If you possess a passion for technology and caregiving, you may be interested in a career in diagnostic medical sonography. The skilled technicians who work in sonography help save lives every day. One way to join their ranks is by earning an online certificate in sonography. Read on to learn more about what you'll encounter while pursuing this useful credential.

What Are the Best Sonography Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top Two:

Rank School Location
1 Washburn University Topeka, KS
2 Jackson College Jackson, MI

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that diagnostic medical sonographers will undergo 19% employment growth between 2018 and 2028. Demand continues to grow for skilled technicians who can use ultrasound imaging techniques to help treat issues like heart disease. Earning an online certificate in sonography can qualify you for an exciting new career that also offers opportunities to specialize your skills to fill an important niche.

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2020 Best Accredited Online Certificate in Sonography Programs

Rank School Location Description Toggle

Washburn University

Topeka, KS

WU serves about 6,500 students each year, many of whom obtain their credentials remotely. The school's academic catalog contains an online diagnostic medical sonography certificate program that spans 12 months and uses a fall start date. Candidates learn to examine parts of the body to detect and help treat heart attacks and vascular disease that can cause strokes.

The 37-43-credit curriculum covers topics like sonography principles and instrumentation, human disease, and abdomen sonography procedures. Students can pursue a generalist education or focus their training on cardiac sonography. Individuals who earn an online certificate in sonography qualify to sit for professional exams offered by Cardiovascular Credentialing International and the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography.

Applicants need relevant work experience. They must also possess an allied health associate degree and a minimum 2.5 GPA on prerequisite coursework.


Jackson College

Jackson, MI

JC delivers more than 70 career-focused academic programs, including an online vascular sonography certificate. Through a 59-credit curriculum, working sonographers gain the specialized skills needed to pursue registered vascular technologist credentials. The competency-based curriculum allows students to fulfill requirements based on course completion and professional experience.

Classes cover topics like sonographic instrumentation; advanced imaging; and vascular anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology. Candidates complete their clinical training with an approved education affiliate. This online certificate in sonography program culminates with an integrative capstone seminar, in which students prepare for the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography exam.

Prospective learners need an associate degree or higher and healthcare work experience. This program is fully accredited by the Commission for Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. The college powers distance education with the Moodle platform.

Online Certificate in Sonography Program Overview

Most online sonography programs focus on ultrasound physics, anatomy, and clinical sonography. Students study the construction and operation of ultrasound equipment, as well as the ultrasonic appearance of the cross-sectioned human body. Learners also study proper patient care, medical terminology, and the history of sonography.

A sonography certificate requires clinical experience, for which students must get department approval. During clinicals, students generally determine which area of sonography, such as vascular technology or echocardiology, they want to pursue as a career.

For some learners, an online certificate in sonography represents a terminal credential. You do not need more than a certificate in diagnostic medical sonography to qualify for entry-level sonographer positions after graduation. However, some employers may prefer learners who have gone on to earn a bachelor's in diagnostic medical sonography.

Common Certificate in Sonography Degree Courses

Introduction to Sonography

This course provides an overview of the field of diagnostic medical sonography. Course topics may include the history of sonographic equipment as a diagnostic medical tool, ergonomic factors, and essential medical terminology used in sonography. Coursework may also address professional and ethical issues related to this field.

Ultrasound Physics and Instrumentation

Students in this class learn about ultrasound principles and instrumentation, with course topics including sound energy and properties of ultrasound waves. Coursework focuses on the construction and operation of ultrasound equipment and transducers, and it prepares learners for national registry examinations on ultrasound physics.

Sonographic Cross-Sectional Anatomy

This course familiarizes students with the appearance of ultrasonically visualized, cross-sectioned human anatomy, as well as how to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy organs, tissues, and blood vessels. The course often focuses on helping students identify isolated structures based on their appearance, echogenicity of tissue, and size relative to surrounding structures.

Clinical Sonography

In this course, students are introduced to the hospital/clinical work setting under the supervision of a clinically credentialed instructor. Typically, this requirement comes in a sequence of courses centering on different areas of sonography, such as obstetrical or echocardiographic, and how to approach them in clinical settings.

Interventional Sonography

Students in this class explore how ultrasound imaging is used to guide special invasive procedures. Course topics include sonography in the operating room, appropriate patient communication, and maintaining sterility during the procedure. Students develop practical knowledge related to room setup and cleanup, as well as various laboratory and proper equipment requirements.

Online Certificate in Sonography Admission Requirements

  • High School or GED Diploma

    While certificate programs vary in their prerequisite academic requirements, most require you to have earned a high school or GED diploma, at a minimum.

  • Completion of a Placement Test

    Some online certificate in sonography programs require you to complete a placement test, such as one of the ACCUPLACER exams. Completion of a placement test gives the school an idea of your existing knowledge of subjects such as math, biology, and English. Based on your exam results, you may need to complete prerequisite coursework.

  • Letters of Recommendation

    Some schools may ask you to submit 1-2 letters of recommendation from previous mentors or teachers, with whom you had a positive working relationship. When asking for a letter of recommendation, give your contacts at least a month's notice.

  • Patient Care Certification

    Programs may show strong preference for applicants who hold professional patient care certification, such as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) credential. These applicants already possess some relevant training, which may qualify them for advanced standing.

  • Previous Health-Related Degree

    Some online sonography certificate programs show strong preference for applicants who have already earned a health-related degree. In these cases, programs usually cater to established healthcare professionals (such as medical assistants) looking to bolster their credentials and/or transfer into a new line of work.

Online Certificate in Sonography Career Paths

Earning an online certificate in sonography prepares you for many careers in the field of diagnostic medical sonography, including vascular technician, echocardiologist, and breast sonographer. However, you may need to continue on and earn a bachelor's in diagnostic medical sonography if you wish to advance to a supervisory position.

An online certificate in sonography also qualifies you to take the Sonography, Principles, and Instrumentation (SPI) exam hosted by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) -- the most widely recognized sonographer credential. Most sonographers are not required to be licensed; however, this is changing in some states, such as Oregon and New Mexico.

Related Careers

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to get a sonography certificate?

Generally, earning your online certificate in sonography takes 1-2 years. Full-time learners often earn their certificate in a little over a year, while nontraditional learners juggling responsibilities while earning their certificate may need to take courses on a part-time basis.

How much does a sonographer make with a certificate?

The BLS reports that the median annual salary for diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians (including vascular technologists) is $68,750.

Is it better to have a certificate or degree in sonography?

A certificate may better serve someone wishing to transfer to an entry-level career in diagnostic medical sonography. Alternatively, an undergraduate degree better serves learners hoping to work in supervisory roles. Both credentials prepare you for the SPI exam offered by ARDMS.

How hard is it to get into a sonography program?

Many online sonography certificate programs admit recent high school graduates and learners who hold a GED diploma. Others may show preference for learners with a health-related degree or certifications, such as the CNA credential. Requirements can vary widely depending on the program.

Is sonography a good career choice?

Sonography is a good career choice for many established healthcare professionals looking to diversify their skills or switch jobs, as well as for recent graduates looking to enter the field without prior experience. Individuals who earn a sonography certificate can pursue a lucrative, in-demand, and personally rewarding career.

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