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What are the Educational Requirements for Becoming an Ultrasound Technician?

ultrasound technician education requirementsUltrasound technicians spend their career projecting sound waves into a patient’s body in order to capture images of blood flow, organs, or tissues. The images allow physicians to diagnose or monitor a wide array of medical conditions. If you are thinking about entering this healthcare field, continue reading to learn about the required schooling.

What are the Ultrasound Technician Education Requirements?

Students can gain formal training through accredited programs found at junior colleges, teaching hospitals, trade schools, and universities. If you already have a medical degree such as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, you can enroll in a one year certificate program, otherwise, you’ll need to obtain at least an Associate of Applied Science degree. This degree is sufficient for an entry-level position, while a bachelor’s degree will allow you to work as a department head or consultant. If you wish to teach diagnostic medical sonography to students at the university level, you’ll need a graduate degree.

Prerequisite Courses

These can differ from program to program, but usually students begin their education with the following courses:

  • Anatomy
  • College Algebra
  • Introduction to Computer Science
  • Medical Terminology
  • Patient Care
  • Physics
  • Physiology


The ultrasound core courses will depend on your chosen specialty such as:

General Sonography – This type of sonography examines organs, structures, and tissues of the abdomen, cardiovascular system, chest, lungs, and reproductive system. Coursework usually includes:

  • Imaging Techniques for Abdominal Organs, Breasts, Superficial Structures, and Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Interpretation of Sonography
  • Medical Ethics
  • Patient Care Management
  • Pathophysiology
  •  Sonographic Instrumentation
  • Sonographic Sectional Anatomy
  • Ultrasound Physics
  • Vascular Sonography

Cardiac Sonography – Cardiac sonographers obtain images of the heart and the muscles and the veins surrounding it. Courses are likely to include:

  • Adult Echocardiography
  • Anatomy, Pathology, and Cardiovascular Disorders of the Heart
  • Doppler Imaging
  • Echocardiographic Evaluation of Pathology


Pediatric Cardiac Sonography – Many programs include this sub-discipline as part of cardiac sonography. It centers on abnormalities and structures of children, and courses include:

  • Congenital Heart Disease
  • Diagnostic Electrocardiography
  • Neonatal and Pediatric Patient Care
  • Pediatric Electrocardiography Techniques

Vascular Sonography – Over sixty accredited programs offer courses in vascular sonography which specializes in the vascular system, while other programs combine it with general sonography. Courses include:

  • Cerebral Vascular Evaluation
  • Doppler Ultrasound Imaging
  • Hemodynamics
  • Sonography of Soft Tissues and Superficial Glands
  • Vascular Sonography
  • Vascular Technologyultrasound technician education requirements


Nearly every program requires students to complete an externship once they have completed all courses. This allows students to gain hands-on training in a medical facility while being supervised by an ultrasound technician. A drug test is often required before beginning an externship.


Like any degree program, you’ll have to take plenty of exams. Below are some sample questions that will give you an idea of what to expect while studying to become an ultrasound technician.

  • In PW Doppler, aliasing is a potential problem because?
  • The rate of attenuation increases as frequency?
  • What are the basics of scattering?
  • Ultrasound is by definition, sound having a frequency greater than ___ cycles per second, which is above audible range.
  • Which type of blood tissue would have the lowest mean propagation velocity?
  • What type of image is an echogenic one?
  • In color Doppler, what does the packet size refer to?
  • What is the mean propagation velocity for human tissue?
  • What is an anechoic image?
  • What refers to a commonly used process for determining direction in Doppler instruments?
  • The ___ transducer and corresponding field of excitation excites molecules in a pie-shaped field.

Additional Requirements

Students usually have to meet the following requirements:

  • Have the physical strength to move patients and equipment that weigh as much as 600 pounds
  • God eyesight to properly read the sonographic images
  • Good hearing in order to differentiate between the different Doppler sounds

Finding an Accredited School

To find an accredited ultrasound technician program, visit the website for the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.

If you are considering becoming an ultrasound technician, contact us for more information.