Best Online Associate in Sonography Programs of 2021

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by Meg Whitenton
Published on December 9, 2021

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Sonographers play a pivotal role in medical diagnostics, capturing internal images of the body for physicians, surgeons, and other healthcare providers. They may specialize in performing procedures including sonograms, ultrasounds, cardiac catheterization, or electrocardiograms. An online associate in sonography prepares graduates for employment in this field.

Most sonographers complete an associate in sonography and pursue professional certification through a national or international credentialing organization. The best online associate in sonography programs meet the clinical requirements needed to earn certification, which is preferred by most healthcare employers.

Top online schools may accommodate aspiring professionals by offering accelerated completion options and in-state tuition rates. Graduates who earn an online associate in sonography are likely to enter a growing field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 15% job growth for medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians from 2020-2030. Additionally, as of May 2020, these professionals earned a median salary of more than $70,000 a year.

What Can I Expect From an Online Associate in Sonography Program?

The field of sonography attracts professionals who can combine their technical and clinical skills to provide a critical medical service. Sonographers require a variety of skills related to technology, medicine, and patient care to perform their jobs. Nearly every field of medicine requires diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technicians.

The curriculum of an online associate in sonography covers anatomy, physics, physiology, and math. The curriculum suits students who are detail oriented, have good hand-eye coordination, and possess strong technical abilities. The best sonographers also have healthy physical stamina and strong interpersonal skills when it comes to patient relationships.

Schools most commonly offer associate of applied science (AAS) degrees in sonography, though some may oversee associate of science programs. The AAS option serves as the standard for this field since its curriculum focuses on preparing students for entry-level employment. Students commonly focus on one of the following sonography specializations:

Most associate in sonography programs feature 60-70 credits and take roughly two years of full-time study to complete, though online degrees sometimes boast completion times less than two years. Students can expect to complete a required internship or clinical practicum as part of this associate degree.

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Featured Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Associate in Sonography Program?

Anatomy and Physiology

This course introduces students to critical human anatomy, including organs, tissues, and cells. Coursework also covers bodily systems like muscular, skeletal, respiratory, digestive, and reproductive systems.

Ultrasound Physics and Instrumentations

Aspiring sonographers study the basics of acoustics, instrumentation, and ultrasound waves during this course. Topics include deciphering acoustic energy, applying Doppler techniques, and developing an understanding of how ultrasound works.

Introduction to Sonography

Students in this course explore the full scope of a sonographer's professional responsibilities. Coursework covers equipment and technology, transducer selection, and patient positioning. Students also learn about cross-sectional anatomy, terminology, and before-and-after examinations.

Patient Care and Professionalism

This course emphasizes best patient-sonographer practices during a diagnostic ultrasound procedure. Coursework also explores communication, ethics, problem-solving, and professionalism in a diagnostic healthcare setting.

Clinical Practicum

Programs typically include a two-part clinical practicum requirement, enabling students to accumulate hands-on sonography experience at a clinic, hospital, or private medical or diagnostic practice.

What Are Admission Requirements for an Online Associate in Sonography Program?

Though requirements vary, gaining admission into an online associate in sonography program starts by submitting an application. Schools may have a unique application or allow students to apply by filling out the Common App.

Online associate sonography programs typically do not require prerequisites. However, they may use placement testing to ensure a student meets certain competency requirements. Many programs require SAT or ACT scores for admission, though these are increasingly becoming optional.

Online programs may require applicants to participate in a virtual interview and submit essays and/or letters of recommendation.

What Can I Do With an Online Associate in Sonography Degree?

Career Outlook

Graduates of an associate in sonography can become medical diagnostic sonographers. They can also pursue work as cardiovascular technicians or technologists. Sonographers commonly earn an associate in sonography to qualify for entry-level jobs in the field. Schools develop their associate sonography programs to include the clinical and technical skills required for employment.

Many sonographers enjoy lucrative careers with job security. The BLS projects much faster than average job growth for diagnostic medical sonographers — 19% growth from 2020-2030, which is more than twice as high as the average projected growth rate for all occupations (8%). Cardiovascular technologists and technicians and vascular technologists are also projected to grow by 14% during that period.

Depending on their specialization and employer, medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians earned median annual wages of roughly $59,000-$76,000 in May 2020.

Career Paths

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Diagnostic medical sonographers capture images of the inside of the body using high-frequency soundwaves. Physicians typically order sonograms or ultrasounds as a first step toward diagnosing disease. Sonographers may specialize in a particular area of the body or type of ultrasound imaging.

Median Annual Salary: $75,920

Cardiovascular Technologist or Technician

These specialists focus on diagnosing issues affecting the heart and lungs. They use procedures like ultrasounds and sonograms, electrocardiograms, and cardiac catheterization. Within this occupation, technicians may further specialize in cardiopulmonary issues and diagnostics.

Median Annual Salary: $59,100

Obstetric and Gynecologic Sonographer

Obstetric and gynecologic sonographers create diagnostic images of a woman's reproductive system. They commonly perform ultrasounds for pregnant women to monitor the health and growth of babies in gestation, looking out for abnormalities or potential birth defects.

Median Annual Salary: $70,380

Abdominal Sonographer

Abdominal sonographers focus on capturing diagnostic images of the abdomen, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen, and kidneys. They may work closely with physicians and/or surgeons to detect metastases or perform biopsies.

Median Annual Salary: $70,380

Breast Sonographer

Breast sonographers specialize in providing advanced diagnostic imaging of breast tissue. A sonogram or ultrasound of the breast can confirm the presence of a tumor or cyst by providing additional visual information beyond a mammogram or physical exam.

Median Annual Salary: $70,380

Sonography Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Continuing Education

Since an associate degree meets the minimum education requirements for sonographers, students rarely earn a higher degree in this major. However, many employers require professional certification through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography, Cardiovascular Credentialing International, or the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.

Students typically need an associate degree accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) to pursue professional certification. Many insurance companies only cover sonograms performed by certified professionals.

How Do I Choose an Online Associate in Sonography Program?

Cost

During the 2020-21 academic year, the average yearly tuition for associate programs ranged from roughly$3,300-$17,300, depending on whether the school is public or private and other factors such. While many schools assign differential tuition rates based on state residency, online programs frequently offer in-state tuition rates to all enrollees.

Program Format

Students can often choose from a variety of learning styles when earning a degree online. An online associate in sonography program may feature synchronous or asynchronous courses, or require a combination of both kinds of participation. Some schools allow students to choose their preferred method. Programs may also offer accelerated completion options.

Location

Learners can take online classes anywhere that offers internet access, but they may still want to consider the location of their associate in sonography program. A school's location can influence tuition rates, and students who attend an online program hosted by a nearby school can often take advantage of on-campus resources.

Accreditation

Accreditation is necessary to validate a school and program as credible among higher learning institutions, and employers typically only recognize credentials from accredited schools. While schools can earn either national or regional accreditation, the latter is typically viewed as more prestigious. Associate in sonography programs may also hold specialized accreditation through CAAHEP.

Student Support

Online programs often offer a host of student support services. Learners can access admissions counseling, academic advising, and tutoring. Online sonography programs may also emphasize career services, such as mentorship opportunities, internship placements, and continuing professional education options.

2021 Best Accredited Online Associate in Sonography Programs

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State Fair Community College true View School Profile Sedalia, MO

State Fair Community College provides a hybrid associate in sonography that includes online didactic classes, campus-based scanning labs, and site-based internships. Students can choose from both general and cardiac degree tracks. Regardless of chosen track, the degree takes 22 months to complete.

Some classes offered in this program include sonography principles and instrumentation, vascular sonography, patient care and health care communication, and allied health career development. Applicants must provide a list of completed prerequisite courses and observation hours alongside a pre-entrance exam and essay.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost-per-Credit: $317 (resident); $437 (non-resident)
  • Program Length: 22 months
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 80.5 credits
  • Instruction Style: Asynchronous
  • Format: Hybrid
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Jackson College true View School Profile Jackson, MI

Located in Michigan, Jackson college provides an online associate in sonography accredited by the Commission for Accreditation of Allied Health Educational Programs. The program curriculum includes sonographic instrumentation, sonographic techniques, abdomen and small parts sonography, and obstetric and gynecologic sonography.

Aside from classes, students complete 1,350 supervised clinical hours in a supervised facility. Students can sit for several different exams after graduating. Admission requirements include completion of prerequisite courses, a 2.0 or higher GPA, and pre-admission exams.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost-per-Credit: $168 (resident); $327 (non-resident)
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 80 credits
  • Instruction Style: N/A
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Sonography Programs

Is an associate degree in sonography worth it? true

Earning an online degree in sonography can prepare students to start their career immediately after graduation. Schools develop associate sonography programs to meet the needs of both aspiring professionals and industry employers. The curriculum covers the specific technical and clinical skills necessary to become a sonographer.

Aspiring sonography technicians and technologists can also build practical skills and make industry connections through an internship, while earning their online associate degree.

How fast can I get an associate in sonography degree online? true

Generally, an associate degree takes two years of full-time study to complete, though some online associate in sonography programs offer accelerated paths to graduation.

Students with previous experience may qualify to apply their transfer credits and life experiences toward program requirements. Others may enroll on a part-time basis, which allows for greater flexibility but extends the graduation timeline.

Is an online associate degree in sonography credible? true

Yes, accredited traditional and online programs are both recognized as valid by employers and higher learning institutions. Online learning options are becoming increasingly prevalent at colleges nationwide.

How much money can I make with an associate in sonography?

Diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians earn median annual wages between $70,000 and $76,000, according to the BLS. Top earners in this field typically work in outpatient care centers. Keep in mind that a worker's experience, location, employer, and specialty area can all influence their income.

Is an associate degree in sonography in demand?

Yes, sonography graduates can pursue in-demand positions in the healthcare industry. An associate degree meets the minimum education requirement for most sonography jobs.

The number of diagnostic medical sonographer positions is projected to increase by 19% from 2020-2030, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. Additionally, cardiovascular technologists and technicians should also see ample growth, with a projected growth of 14% during the same period.

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