If you're interested in a career in health care and enjoy working with technology, you may want to consider becoming an ultrasound technician. Also known as sonographers, ultrasound technicians use high-frequency sound waves from an ultrasound machine to create pictures of a patient's internal organs and other tissues. Doctors and other health care professionals use these images to diagnose and treat a variety of medical conditions.
North Carolina Ultrasound Technician Schools
North Carolina offers numerous ultrasound technology programs with accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Students can pursue either a certificate or degree in the field, with a choice between general, cardiac, or vascular sonography specializations.
Here are five North Carolina schools that offer formal education programs in diagnostic medical sonography:
- Cape Fear Community College: At CFCC in Wilmington, students can choose between general sonography and cardiac sonography degree and certificate programs. The graduating class of 2015 earned 100 percent job placement and ARDM certification.
- Johnston Community College: Located in Smithfield, JCC offers students the choice between pursuing a degree in general sonography, cardiac sonography, or vascular sonography. Courses include clinical work at a variety of area hospitals and medical centers.
- South Piedmont Community College: SPCC offers an associate degree program in general sonography. Every graduate from the class of 2014 earned ARDMS certification.
- Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College: This school, located in Asheville, offers two associate degree programs: general and vascular sonography. The graduation rate in 2014 was 100 percent, as was the ARDMS certification rate.
- Southwestern Community College: SCC in Sylva offers the choice between a diploma and an associate degree. Every student graduating with the class of 2015 earned ARDMS certification, as well as job placement.
In addition to completing one of these programs, graduates are advised to pursue certification with the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS).
What to Expect from North Carolina Sonography Programs
CAAHEP-accredited ultrasound technology programs help prepare graduates for ARDMS certification, using state-of-the-art equipment and real-life training. Common course topics include:
- Abdominal Sonography
- Cardiovascular Sonographic
- Doppler Sonography
- Fetal Echocardiography
- Introduction to Sonography
- Obstetrical Sonography
- Sonographic Basics
- Sonographic Physics
- Sonography Clinical Education
- Vascular Sonography
In addition, students pursuing an associate degree in the field typically take general education courses, such as:
Sonography students can also expect to learn skills on patient care, computers, and medical technology. Instruction is often split between classroom-based learning and hands-on training with actual ultrasound equipment. Some programs offer an internship component as well, giving students the chance to apply their skills in an actual health care environment.
North Carolina Ultrasound Technician Licensing and Certification
The state of North Carolina does not require ultrasound technicians to have a license. However, ARDMS certification is strongly recommended as a means of improving employability and increasing earning potential. To obtain these credentials, you must submit a Clinical Verification Form, an application and fee, as well as pass two exams, one on Sonography Principles and Instrumentation (SPI) and the other on your chosen specialty.
Credential choices include:
- Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
- Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer
- Registered Vascular Technologist
- Registered Musculoskeletal Sonographer
Specialty exams include:
- Fetal Echocardiography
- Obstetrics & Gynecology
- Pediatric Sonography
- Adult Echocardiography
- Pediatric Echocardiography
- Vascular Technology
- Musculoskeletal Sonography
When applying, you must include your transcripts or a CME certification of completion of a qualified sonography program. ARDMS returns incomplete applications, but does not reimburse the processing fee.
Resources for Ultrasound Technicians in North Carolina
ARDMS provides sonography students and professional ultrasound technicians the following resources:
In addition, the site offers educational articles and job information.