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Between college applications, trying to figure out what you want to study, and puzzling through finances for your higher education, the college search can be extremely daunting. But knowing what coursework or certifications are necessary for your chosen field-- and where to find them-- can go a long way in making a stressful situation significantly easier.
If you’re interested in going into the medical field as an ultrasound technician, we’ve pulled together some information on what the field entails-- as well as the colleges with the best ultrasound technician programs.
What is an Ultrasound Technician and How Do You Become One?
Ultrasound technicians have an incredibly important job in the medical field, and it shows-- demand for ultrasound technicians has increased considerably in recent years. Working alongside CT and MRI technicians, radiographers, mammographers, and other medical professionals, they are responsible for conducting ultrasounds on patients in order to help diagnose their medical conditions and get them the correct treatment. This includes locating cancerous cells in various human tissues, assisting in diagnosing heart conditions, and ensuring that patients’ blood flows are normal and nervous systems are healthy.
For many health issues, a properly-performed and interpreted ultrasound procedure can be a matter of life and death-- so if you want to help save lives as an ultrasound technician, it’s important to get a strong grounding in the field.
In order to score a job as an ultrasound technician, you’ll need at least a certification or a two-year associate’s degree. Not all jobs require a four-year bachelor’s degree or higher, so a two-year program may be a great place to start if you are constrained by finances or location.
However, specializing in one or more areas-- such as vascular sonography, gynecologic sonography, neurosonography, and plenty more-- gives you the opportunity to vastly increase your earning potential. These specializations are generally more involved than a two-year track to an associate’s degree. However, if a specific type of ultrasound procedure interests you, it can be worthwhile to consider specializing in it.
Clearly, there are plenty of ways to go about earning the correct qualifications for this field. But where are some of the strongest programs located? Here are some of the best colleges for future ultrasound technicians to attend:
The Best Colleges for Ultrasound Technicians
Oregon Institute of Technology
First on the list of colleges to keep in mind if you’re considering a career as an ultrasound technician is the Oregon Institute of Technology. OIT offers a Bachelor of the Sciences degree at the end of one of its four-year ultrasound tech programs-- students can choose between a major in diagnostic medical sonography or echocardiology. Diagnostic Medical Sonography is an umbrella term that includes obstetric and gynecologic sonography, neurosonography, abdominal sonography, and several other specializations-- and students in this program have the opportunity to choose one of these specializations in order to further develop their knowledge of the field.
OIT also offers an online track for both of its ultrasound tech programs-- so if you aren’t able to attend school in Klamath Falls, Oregon, this school may still be a viable option for you.
Seattle University is home to the first ultrasound tech program in the state of Washington. The four-year program aims to provide students with a well-rounded medical education, plenty of practical experience through internships and lab work, and the opportunity to specialize in general, vascular, or cardiac sonography. Seattle University offers need-based financial aid and considers all applicants for merit-based scholarships, so there are several ways for prospective students to make financing their SU education a little more feasible.
Concordia University Wisconsin
Concordia University Wisconsin offers several tracks for students interested in diagnostic sonography-- this school offers a DMS certification for students with a previous bachelor’s degree as well as either an online or in-person four-year diagnostic medical sonography major. Students who want a well-rounded education beyond the medical field should definitely keep Concordia on their list of colleges to investigate-- this is a liberal arts school, so you’ll have opportunities to branch out in your interests as you complete the core curriculum. Students in the diagnostic sonography program at Concordia can specialize in OB/GYN sonography, abdomen extended sonography, or vascular sonography, and there are opportunities to specialize in cardiac sonography through the school’s partnership with Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center.
Rochester Institute of Technology
The Rochester Institute of Technology is among the top-ranked colleges in the country, and its ultrasound tech program is going strong. The school offers a four-year bachelor’s degree in diagnostic medical sonography, during which students participate in a year of clinical internships in order to solidify their knowledge through hands-on experience. This program provides students with an in-depth understanding of biology and anatomy while also spending considerable time focusing on the ins and outs of patient care. RIT’s full DMS curriculum is published online in order to give prospective students an idea of what their schedule might look like.
University of Texas
The University of Texas offers an extremely competitive two-year program leading to a Bachelor of the Sciences degree in diagnostic medical sonography through the MD Anderson Cancer Center, located in Houston, Texas. Students apply for this program after completing a series of prerequisite courses at the college, and during it, they have the opportunity to gain plenty of practical field experience during extensive clinical internships-- so if you want as much hands-on practice as an ultrasound tech as possible, this is a school to keep in mind.
Upstate Medical University
Similar to the University of Texas, Upstate Medical University offers a two-year ultrasound tech program that begins in students’ junior year of college-- so although entry into the program requires some prior college education, it’s still a good idea to keep this school in mind when choosing what DMS programs you want to apply to. Students can either earn a Bachelor of the Sciences or a Bachelor of Professional Studies in sonography through Upstate Medical University. The program provides students with a well-rounded understanding of medical and scientific concepts while also developing their professional skills and instilling an ethical approach to medicine.
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences offers another competitive and in-depth program in diagnostic medical sonography, and students interested in the field should absolutely keep the school in mind. This program maintains high standards, but provides students with outstanding credentials upon completion-- they must pass the American Registry exams as Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (RDMS), Registered Vascular Technologists (RVT), and Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographers (RDCS) in order to successfully finish the program. With these credentials, the school aims to provide students with as wide a variety of career options as possible-- so keep it in mind if you’re dedicated to building a career in this field.
University of Nebraska Medical Center
The University of Nebraska Medical Center offers a one year sonography program, at the end of which students earn a bachelor’s degree or a post-baccalaureate certification. In this program, students can choose between two specializations-- the General Track, which includes abdominal and OB/GYN sonography, or the Cardiovascular Track. The program involves extensive clinical studies in order to provide students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a safe environment under supervision, despite its short duration-- which makes it a great school to keep in mind if you want a shorter, more focused curriculum.
Those Were the Best Colleges for Ultrasound Technicians
The transition into college can be stressful, and it often requires a lot of adjustment and self-discipline to figure out what you are doing and where you’re trying to go. This becomes more complicated when you’re interested in going into a specialized, competitive field like healthcare and medical services-- it’s sometimes difficult to track down information on what coursework is necessary and how much practical internship experience is ideal.
This list aims at alleviating some of the stress of the college search-- all of the ultrasound tech and sonography programs at the schools listed have great reputations and offer a strong grounding in biology, anatomy, and medical practice that will help graduates perform well in the industry. There are plenty of other great medical schools to continue your education, too-- with so many options available, even a brief overview of what being an ultrasound technician requires and where some of the strongest programs are available can prove incredibly helpful. Try keeping some of these schools in mind during your college search-- and we wish you good luck with your studies!