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 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:
In addition to completing one of these programs, graduates are advised to pursue certification with the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS).
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:
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.
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:
Specialty exams include:
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.
ARDMS provides sonography students and professional ultrasound technicians the following resources:
In addition, the site offers educational articles and job information.
The map below shows job statistics for the career type by metro area, for North Carolina. 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.
2017 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; O*NET® 23.1 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, onetonline.org
Annual Median Salary