Using special imaging equipment, medical sonographers (also known as ultrasound technicians) create images and conduct tests to help in the diagnosis and assessment of medical conditions. Some ultrasound technicians are also on hand during surgery to assist physicians and surgeons. As imaging photography continues to improve, demand for qualified medical sonographers could rise nationwide, including in Iowa. This is due to more healthcare companies using ultrasounds as opposed to invasive, less cost-effective procedures.

Iowa Ultrasound Technician Schools

A formal education is needed to pursue a career as an ultrasound technician. There are a number of sonography schools in Iowa that offer degrees or postsecondary certificates in the field. These include:

  • University of Iowa: At the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, students can choose from several different Radiation Sciences and Diagnostic Medical Sonography degree programs. They also offer online courses in a variety of related subjects, such as Abdominal Sonography, Vascular Anatomy, and Obstetrical and Gynecological Sonography.

  • Mercy College of Health Sciences: Mercy College of Health Sciences offers a wide range of medical-based programs, including Diagnostic Medical Sonography. This is an associate degree program that lasts five semesters, and includes practicing in a skills lab, learning in a classroom, and getting hands-on clinical experiences in a number of healthcare settings. The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

  • Allen College: Located in Waterloo, Iowa, St Luke's College provides a range of courses that are dedicated to helping students become registered healthcare professionals. Their Diagnostic Medical Sonography (DMS) program is 21 months long and allows students to focus on diagnostic or general ultrasounds.

  • Eastern Iowa Community Colleges: Consisting of Scott, Muscatine, and Clinton Community Colleges, Eastern Iowa Community Colleges enroll over 8,000 students each fall. A sonography program is offered, which culminates in an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree. There are two tracks offered in this course: Cardiac Sonography or Medical Sonography.

What to Expect from Iowa Sonography Programs

In most sonography programs, students can expect instruction to be divided between classroom-based studies and hands-on training in a clinical environment. These programs typically cover all aspects of becoming an ultrasound technician, with some courses offering students the chance to specialize in a particular area of the field. Many graduates then go on to pursue certification in that specialization.

While specific courses may vary, here are some examples of topics commonly covered in a sonography degree program:

  • Sonographic physics
  • The principles of sonography
  • Clinical procedures
  • Specialist fields, e.g. breast sonography or abdominal sonography
  • Sonographic pathology
  • Sonographic anatomy

Iowa Ultrasound Technician Licensing and Certification

No specific licenses are needed in order to become a sonographer in Iowa. However, most employers prefer candidates who have a professional certification in the field. Many insurance providers and Medicare call for sonographers who are certified to carry out the relevant tests and procedures on their patients. These certifications can be achieved through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) or Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI).

When pursuing these certifications, some students specialize in a particular area, e.g. breast sonography, while others like to remain general with their expertise. In a lot of the certification programs, students will be given the chance to choose a specialist area, with most obtaining at least one of these certificates. Others may go on to achieve several. A Basic Life Support certification that demonstrates a candidate is capable of CPR is also preferred by most employers when they're searching for job candidates.

Resources for Ultrasound Technicians in Iowa

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More Iowa Ultrasound Technician Training Schools

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

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Des Moines
Iowa City
Doctorate & First Professional

Job Popularity in Metro Areas for Sonographers

The map below shows job statistics for the career type by metro area, for Iowa. A table below the map shows job popularity and salaries across the state.

Metro Areas Rated for Popularity for:

Listed below are metro areas ranked by the popularity of jobs for Sonographers relative to the population of the city. Salary data was obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

Metro Area
Annual Median Salary
Iowa City 80 $61,770
Cedar Rapids 80 $63,760
Des Moines 220 $66,060
West Des Moines 220 $66,060
Dubuque 70 $62,600
Waterloo 40 $62,900
Cedar Falls 40 $62,900


  1. Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, Including Vascular Technologists Occupational Outlook Handbook 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/diagnostic-medical-sonographers.htm, accessed October 3, 2016
  2. O*NET OnLine Summary Report for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/29-2032.00, accessed October 3, 2016

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