Sonography technicians are a vital part of a hospital's diagnostic team. Though many people think ultrasound techs concern themselves only with pregnancy cases, they do much more than that. Sonography technicians are needed for other routine -- and less-than-routine -- cases, such as gynecological exams, ophthalmologic diagnoses, and echocardiograms.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Pennsylvania ranks fifth in the country in employment of diagnostic medical sonographers, with 2,480 professionals working in the field as of May 2015. The state also boasts a number of schools with programs specifically focused on sonography.
Pennsylvania Ultrasound Technician Schools
Students interested in pursuing a formal education in sonography will find several options available from Pennsylvania schools. Below are five institutions that offer education programs for future ultrasound technicians:
- Community College of Allegheny County: Located in Pittsburgh, CCAC boasts three separate sonography technician programs: General Ultrasound (Abdomen, Obstetrics, and Gynecology), Cardiac Ultrasound, and Vascular Ultrasound. Each program consists of around 22 credits of coursework.
- Harrisburg Area Community College: HACC offers two sonography technician courses: Cardiovascular Sonography (also known as echocardiography) and Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Graduates may be able to use their experience at HACC as a bridge to Siena Heights University or Widener University, where they can earn a Bachelor's of Science degree.
- Great Lakes Institute of Technology: Based in Erie, Great Lakes Institute of Technology offers a six-semester program focusing on Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Students spend the final year of the program completing an externship at a local clinic or hospital.
- Lackawanna College: Scranton's Lackawanna College offers a two-year program in Diagnostic Vascular Cardiac Sonography. While enrolled, students should plan on attending day, evening, and Saturday classes, as well as completing clinical hours during a summer session.
- Misericordia University: Misericordia U is based in Dallas, and offers a four-year Diagnostic Medical Sonography program. Students can either choose to attend the university full time and earn a Bachelor's of Science, or focus specifically on earning a certificate in sonography.
What to Expect from Pennsylvania Sonography Programs
Pennsylvania's sonography technician programs offer a wide variety of options to prospective students. Some may choose to earn a certificate, and can do so in two years or less. Others might decide to gain a more general foundation of medical knowledge and experience at first, then go on to specialize in a distinct area of sonography in the future.
Regardless of the path prospective sonography students take, programs typically involve coursework in a classroom setting, as well as fieldwork in a hospital, clinic, or other medical facility. To successfully complete the program, students must demonstrate both knowledge of sonography from a theoretical standpoint and efficient clinical skills.
While courses vary by school and program specialty, below are several topics students can expect to study while pursuing a degree in sonography:
- Doppler Physics
- Clinical-Diagnostic Sonography
- Vascular Technology
Pennsylvania Ultrasound Technician Licensing and Certification
Ultrasound technicians are not required by U.S. law to become licensed. However, most sonography schools and programs suggest their graduates become certified technicians. To do so, prospects must sit for exams administered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography or the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. Sonography technicians are required to renew their certification annually.
Resources for Ultrasound Technicians in Pennsylvania