What Will I Learn in an Ultrasound Technician School?

Ultrasound technicians must complete a rigorous training program before they can become certified to work as technicians in hospitals or other health care facilities. These programs typically last two to four years, and can be completed at a community college or at a four-year university under an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree. A two-year Associate’s degree is the most common education and training ultrasonographers receive. Those already active in the medical field, such as registered nurses, can opt to complete a shorter one-year certification program to operate ultrasound equipment and perform the procedures. However, it should be noted that one-year certificate programs are not accredited, though most registered nurses that complete an ultrasound technician course are allowed to practice ultrasonography due to their experience in the nursing field. 

Some ultrasound training programs prefer applicants who have experience in the science or health field, such as currently registered nurses, but some others will also accept those with a high school diploma and a strong educational background in mathematics, science, and health, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The course work in ultrasound training programs covers medical ethics, physiology, anatomy, basic physics, medical terminology, and health care procedures. The bulk of the program lessons focus on the student’s area of specialty and how to use and read the ultrasound equipment for that specialization. For example, if the student is looking to specialize in obstetrics, then a large portion of his or her studies will be dedicated to learning female reproductive health, fetal health and development, and other related subjects in addition to learning how to perform the ultrasound procedure and read the images the equipment produces as it relates to pregnancy.

Students will generally be expected to complete about 24 hours of outside clinical training and work for every week they are enrolled in an ultrasound technician program. This will give them experience working in an actual health care facility under the supervision of experienced employees. Most online schools that offer an ultrasound technician program will require students to locate a nearby healthcare facility in which to complete their clinicals. Students should ensure that these facilities are approved by the program so that they will receive proper credit for clinical work.

After completing the training program, prospective technicians are eligible to sit for the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) examination in order to become recognized as official ultrasonographers. This is a standard that most healthcare institutions hold when considering new sonographer applicants, according to the Community College of Allegheny County. To become official ultrasonographers, program graduates must pass a generic physics examination as well as a more specialized examination that focuses on the graduate’s field of choice.