A Sonography Bachelor’s Degree program 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 the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) or a similar professional association.
Completing a Bachelors Degree Program in Sonography creates opportunity for a higher level of stability, more challenges, personal fulfillment and potentially a higher salary. Moving up the professional ladder as a sonographer may allow you to become the director of an ultrasound department, a consultant, an educator of diagnostic medical sonography, and other positions.
Bachelor’s Program Coursework
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), and may provide the corresponding coursework. 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.
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 as a sonographer or ultrasound technician. Fulfilling a Bachelors Degree in Sonography often involves transferring your credits from a two-year Associates or certificate program plus completing professional credits specific to the profession of sonography. This type of degree is referred to as a “bachelor’s completion program”.
While pre-requisites for admissions into an ultrasound degree school vary, to be accepted into a Bachelors program, you typically 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 degrees 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 for existing sonographers and ultrasound technicians.
Should I pursue an Associates or a Bachelors degree in ultrasound?
An Associate’s Degree in DMS is sufficient for most sonography positions. However, if you wish to continuously engage in professional development and further specialize in sonography, then you may wish to pursue a Bachelors degree in Ultrasound. Additionally, if you plan to go to medical school, then a Bachelor’s Degree is a credible, pre-med option.
What sonography 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 states that “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”. Additionally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for diagnostic medical sonographers will continue to grow by 19% through 2028. This job growth, which is considered much faster than average, also equates to more high-level positions within the ultrasound field.
Can I pursue a Bachelors degree in Ultrasound while working?
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 that you could attend in addition to working.
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 give you an advantage for both entry-level and advanced sonographer positions. The median salary for diagnostic medical sonographers was $74,320 per year in 2019, according to the BLS (conditions in your area may vary). Additionally, the top 10% of sonographers made more than $100,000 annually. You can increase your salary and become a part of this 10% by upgrading your experience, job title, and education.