Bachelors Degree in Ultrasound (Diagnostic Medical Sonography)
Career advancement: It’s something most of us strive for as we seek a higher level of stability, challenge, fulfillment and salary. A Bachelors Degree in Ultrasound enables just that – a move up the professional ladder from sonographer to director of an ultrasound department, consultant, an educator of diagnostic medical sonography or other prestigious positions. If you are thinking of going to medical school down the road, then a four year degree in ultrasound would also be an ideal educational foundation.
An Ultrasound Bachelors degree is generally open to those who have already completed an associates degree or certificate program and who are currently certified as a Registered Diagnostic Sonographer through ARDMS or a similar professional association. (Note: Admission requirements vary from school to school. For example completion of any two-year allied health program may suffice or in some cases you can start your Bachelor of Science from scratch, rather than transferring credits from a previous associates/certificate program).
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Advanced Placement Bachelors Programs in Ultrasound
An Advanced Placement Bachelor’s of Diagnostic Medical Sonography is an educational option that allows you to further specialize and ultimately advance your career as a sonographer or ultrasound technician. In many cases, fulfilling a Bachelors Degree in Ultrasound involves transferring your credits from a two-year Associates or certificate program plus completing professional credits specific to the profession of sonography. Such a degree is referred to as a “bachelor’s completion program”.
While pre-requisites for admissions into an ultrasound school vary, generally to be accepted into an Ultrasound Bachelors degree program, you must have already completed a two-year allied health program – in areas such as sonography, radiation therapy or nuclear medicine technology – and be a practicing Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer. Again, not all four year degree in ultrasound programs require this; some schools allow you to complete pre-professional courses at the beginning of your undergraduate degree. But for an Advanced Placement Bachelors Degree in Ultrasound, the emphasis is on professional development and career advancement for existing sonographers and ultrasound technicians.
Coursework delves into biology, physics, lab equipment, medical terminology and patient interaction specially tailored to the field of ultrasound. Many Bachelor’s Degrees in Ultrasound programs offer students the opportunity to specialize in a particular area of diagnostic medical sonography, such as vascular, echocardiography or general (abdominal, obstetrics and gynecology). Usually an Ultrasound Bachelors degree will include clinical or internship experiences, but for an Advanced Placement program this may not be required due to previous work experience.
Should I pursue an Associates or a Bachelors degree in ultrasound?
If you would like to remain as an entry-level sonographer, then an ultrasound associates degree will suffice. If you wish to continuously engage in professional development, further specialize and advance your career, then you should pursue a Bachelors degree in Ultrasound. Also if you plan to go on to medical school, then a bachelor’s degree is a credible, pre-med option.
What jobs will I qualify for with a Bachelors degree?
An Ultrasound Bachelors degree coupled with several years work experience can lead to significant career advancements. The ARDMS describes this professional progression: “A sonographer with 3-5 years of experience can become lead sonographer or director of an ultrasound department. There are also opportunities in consulting, sales, equipment manufacturing, imaging administration and education”. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for diagnostic medical sonographers will continue to grow by 44% through to 2020. This job growth, which is faster than average, also equates to more high-level positions within the ultrasound field.
Can I pursue a Bachelors degree in Ultrasound while working?
Yes in many cases you can. If you are already a registered sonographer, some schools offer bachelor completion courses completely online since you would already have the clinical and lab experience from your vocation and prior education. Other schools offer flexible course schedules during the evenings and weekends.
Will a Bachelors degree make me more competitive in the job market or affect my salary?
Yes. Completing a program that equates to a four year degree in ultrasound will make you more specialized, qualified and more competitive for both entry-level and advanced sonographer positions. In 2010, the median salary for diagnostic medical sonographers was $69,740 per year, according to the BLS. However, the top 10% of sonographers made more than $88,000 annually. By upgrading your education, experience and job title, you will become a part of this top 10%.
Article by Wendy Fanello