Diagnostic medical ultrasound (or sonography) is a procedure that uses sound waves to create images of soft tissues in the body. These images are used to look for abnormalities, track a pregnancy, or diagnose conditions. Unlike X-rays, there is no radiation involved. Ultrasound is a commonly used tool because it's a cost-effective and safe way to diagnose potential problems. Because of the sophisticated equipment, sonographers take specialized courses along with general health and anatomy classes.
Colorado's sonography programs allow students to specialize in different focus areas within the field. Many of the programs are shorter in length while still delivering quality training. The following three schools offer certificate or degree programs aimed at preparing future ultrasound technicians for entry-level employment:
Sonography is a fast-paced and ever-changing field that requires both the caregiving skills practiced by physicians and nurses, along with the technical skills to operate and maintain specialized equipment. Prospective ultrasound technicians wishing to study and obtain work in Colorado have many options to choose from for both training and job location.
Depending on your interests, many schools allow you to focus your education on a certain area of the body by taking the corresponding classes. Most programs also have a clinical component where students learn from a professional ultrasound technician.
Students can expect to develop valuable skills in operating sonographic equipment, interpreting images, recognizing abnormal images, summarizing results for physicians, and communicating and working with patients. Courses might include:
Employers often prioritize graduates from programs that are accredited by the CAAHEP. Newly graduated sonographers can also apply for certification with the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) or via Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI). These organizations award certifications to professionals who passing the required exams. Students who specialize in a certain area of sonography can apply for an associated certificate, like in cardiac sonography. Most ultrasound technicians obtain at least one post-graduation certification, and many have multiple.
There are no specific licensing requirements for ultrasound technicians in Colorado, however the ARDMS requires those practicing to take one of its exams, either in general sonography (allowing practice in abdominal, breast, OB-GYN, and other areas) or in cardiac sonography, which relates specifically to the heart.
Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
The map below shows job statistics for the career type by metro area, for Colorado. A table below the map shows job popularity and salaries across the state.
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 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; O*NET® 22.1 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, onetonline.org
Annual Median Salary