5 Best Online Sonographer Trade Schools in 2024

An online Sonography program provides a more flexible education pathway for students who wish to work in the healthcare industry. If you’re interested in using the latest in technology to create images of the internal body, then ultrasound tech schools are the perfect choices.

Ultrasound technicians, also called diagnostic medical sonographers, use special equipment to create ultrasound or sonograms. These technicians are highly trained to work with precision. Sonographers create images that doctors use to provide more accurate diagnoses.

What is Sonography?

Sonography is a type of diagnostic medical test that utilizes high-frequency sound waves or ultrasound waves to create images of organs, tissues, glands, and fluid or blood within the body. Diagnostic medical sonography is often referred to as a sonogram or ultrasound.

Sonography uses a tool called a transducer on the skin’s surface to send ultrasound waves and listen for echoes. A computer then translates these waves into images where trained ultrasound technicians can measure, see, and evaluate structures in the image. Healthcare providers then read these images to help diagnose the problem or issue at hand.

A sonographer, also called a diagnostic medical sonographer or an ultrasound technician, is a medical professional who is highly skilled in operating equipment that creates images of the internal body structure using high-frequency sound waves.

These images, also called ultrasounds or sonograms, play very critical roles in helping physicians to:

  • Diagnose and check medical conditions
  • Monitor the progress of a pregnancy
  • Aid surgeons in specific procedures

Responsibilities of Sonographers

The tasks of ultrasound technicians go beyond just using the machine. A diagnostic medical sonography professional is responsible for:

  • Explaining sonographic procedures to patients, answering their questions, and preparing them for the procedure.
  • Making sure images are very clear for diagnostic purposes and, if necessary, making adjustments to sonographic equipment.
  • Monitoring patients to ensure their comfort and safety during a procedure.
  • Choosing and assessing images, looking for disparities between healthy and pathological areas, and identifying if the scope of the sonographic exam should be extended, based on initial findings.

The median annual wage for diagnostic medical sonography professionals is $81,350. The overall employment of ultrasound technicians, along with cardiovascular technologists, is projected to grow 10% between 2022 and 2032. This translates to 9,600 openings for these technicians each year for the next decade.

Online Programs in Sonography by Type and Level

Sonography students have three major academic paths to choose from. The quickest to completion is the diploma or certificate programs, while the bachelor’s degree programs take the longest to earn. But on top of their time to completion, there are other key differences too, each with specific advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the student’s particular professional and academic goals, one academic path will make far more sense than the other.

Diploma/Certificate Programs in Sonography

Most programs require sonography students to complete a specific number of required courses before they are admitted into the program. These courses cover basic medical topics like physiology, biology, and anatomy. Some programs also require students to have completed their general education courses.

The diploma/certificate program path normally takes the least amount of time to complete; most of them are roughly 12-18 months. Its biggest disadvantage, however, is that since this is the quickest way to complete the program, there will be more non-degree ultrasound technicians looking for post-graduate careers than those holding associate degrees or bachelor’s degrees.

Plus, there are employers that require a college degree before they hire. If they do accept one holding a certificate, chances are, the pay is going to be lower.

Associate Degree

With an associate’s degree, students will add at least another six months to a full year before they can start working as an ultrasound technicians. With this program, they are provided with a well-rounded education before of the general education requirements.

The associate degree is also an advantage for hiring and career advancement. Those who hold associate’s degree credits can transfer these credits to a bachelor of science program to further their education later.

This education level also prepares students for professional certification and credentials and provides them with an opportunity to specialize.

Bachelor’s Degree

Most of the bachelor’s degree programs in sonography are designed for those who are already working as ultrasound technicians and sonographers. This degree level allows them the chance to specialize in a specific field in sonography or learn higher-level management skills that will result in leadership roles within a health organization.

Many on-campus and online bachelor’s degree programs only accept students who not only hold an associate’s degree or certificate programs in medical diagnostic imaging but also have their national certification credentials. This means that those working sonography professionals can easily move on to clinical teaching try on a different field of sonography, or even handle mid-level healthcare management.

Courses in Ultrasound Technician Programs

The coursework of ultrasound technician programs is designed to teach students how to make precise medical images. Ultrasound technicians are required to have an eye for detail, coupled with the ability to troubleshoot technological issues.

Some ultrasound tech programs allow learners to specialize in a particular topic too. For example, there are schools for higher education that offer a concentration in diagnostic obstetrics or medical sonography. While ultrasound technician programs generally vary in length, most of these programs have three common classes.

Patient Preparation

Ultrasound technicians should know how to encourage patient cooperation so they can draw clear images. This class will teach the best communication practices. Students will discover how to physically and mentally prepare patients for an imaging procedure. They will also learn how to accurately a patient’s medical history record for medical professionals to review.

Musculoskeletal System Sonography

Students will study the components of the musculoskeletal system and how to correctly take images of this system. They will also find out about the best practices for dealing with patients going through pain and injury. Part of the coursework covers how to take sonograms of arthritic joints, sprains, and cysts.

Abdominal Sonography

This focuses on capturing images of abdominal organs. Students will discover where the pancreas, spleen, kidneys, and liver are located. They will also be able to identify abdominal abnormalities such as gallbladder stones.


Let us help you find the best online Sonographer trade school program! Each option on our list was picked owing to these impressive features that promise a positive online learning experience.

  • Delivered as an online or hybrid vocational program featuring rigorous coursework and training,
  • Features a comprehensive trade program curriculum that equips future sonographers with the relevant technical skills for the job,
  • Emphasizes the importance of ethical practice, as well as communication and patient care as part of the work that sonographers do,
  • Prepares students for a bachelor’s degree that features an advanced curriculum in the field of sonography,
  • Holds relevant accreditation ensuring that the trade program and trade school meet the specific standards.

5 Best Online Sonography Trade Schools

Boise State University

Boise State University

  • Location: Boise, Idaho
  • Online Delivery Method: Online
  • Time it takes to complete: 12 months
  • Completion Rate: undisclosed
  • Types of Aid: undisclosed

The online Certificate in Diagnostic Medical Sonography program at Boise University is designed to prepare students for the RDMS exam. This online program is a suitable choice for medical professionals who already hold a degree but wish to transition into the field of diagnostic medical sonography. After completing this online certificate program, students are able to:

  • Prepare for the registered diagnostic medical sonographer exam.
  • Develop a culture of safety, identify professional impact related to patient outcomes, and advocate for patients.
  • Demonstrate respectful, appropriate, and effective communication with a diverse of patients, physicians, co-workers, and the community to help improve patient outcomes by doing beyond technical application.
  • Use ethical practices as professional technologists from a compliance, legal, and systems perspective within the healthcare industry.
  • Share data within a healthcare team while keeping patient confidentiality and privacy.

To be qualified for the online certificate in diagnostic medical sonography, students must meet the requirements below:

  • Credentialed and clinically-based healthcare worker matriculated from a regionally accredited institution.
  • Students must have already taken physiology and anatomy to be admitted into the certificate program.

For students who pursue this program and want clinical placement in the Treasure Valley, Idaho, they must apply through the on-campus program.

Washburn University

Washburn University

  • Location: Topeka, Kansas
  • Online Delivery Method: Online
  • Time it takes to complete: 1 year
  • Completion Rate: undisclosed
  • Types of Aid: Federal Financial Aid, Grants, Student and Parent Loans, Student Employment, Scholarships, Tuition Waivers

The online diagnostic medical sonography at Washburn University is offered in three options so students can specialize in specific areas of sonography. Students can choose a one-year advanced certificate in vascular sonography, cardiac sonography, and general sonography.

This coursework can be completed online, followed by clinical in a center close to your home. Before or after completing this fully online program, students are qualified to sit for the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography and the Cardiovascular Credentialing International.

Like most associate’s degree and allied health programs, this online ultrasound technician program has been Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs-accredited since 2006.

The general sonography program takes 12 months to complete and requires 40 credit hours to complete, while the cardiac sonography only requires 34 credit hours. The vascular sonography curriculum is also 34 credit hours.

This is a CAAHEP-accredited sonography program.

William Rainey Harper College

William Rainey Harper College

  • Location: Palatine, Illinois
  • Online Delivery Method: Online
  • Time it takes to complete: 16 credit hours
  • Completion Rate: undisclosed
  • Types of Aid: Federal Financial Aid, Grants, Scholarships

The magnetic resonance imaging certificate online program is designed for those who have already completed either an on-campus or online bachelor’s degree in Radiologic Technology and wish to learn about using cross-sectional images of the body using MRI to diagnose abnormalities that are tough to assess with conventional radiography.

This 16-credit-hour certification program offered by William Rainey Harper College can be completed in just three semesters. Students will take courses in the anatomy of the human body for imaging, MRI principles, applied science, and patient care and procedures. They will also complete an intensive clinical experience while being supervised by a registered radiologic technologist.

This program combines didactic and clinical experiences to provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to become entry-level MRI technologists. Students will learn about the instrumentation and physics of magnetic imaging, patient care and safety, and clinical procedures and protocols. After completing the program, they may sit for the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists MRI registry examination.

Following graduation and successfully passing the MRI exam, graduates can explore career opportunities in healthcare facilities like clinics and hospitals, physician offices, urgent care clinics, and specialized imaging centers.

Bucks County Community College

Bucks County Community College

  • Location: Newtown, Pennsylvania
  • Online Delivery Method: Online
  • Time it takes to complete: 2 semesters
  • Completion Rate: undisclosed
  • Types of Aid: Federal Financial Aid, Scholarships, Grants

Bucks County Community College offers an online certificate program in magnetic resonance imaging. This online program is for post-graduate registered radiologic technologists who wish to learn how to use radio waves and magnetic fields in producing cross-sectional anatomical images of the human body.

This is a two-semester program that consists of a clinical practicum experience and online didactic. nurses. Students are provided with documented clinical experience and theoretical background needed to sit for the MRI Post-Primary Certification examination administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.

There are seven required courses in this program that teach students about patient care in MRIs, cross-section anatomy in medical imaging, MRI procedures, and physics instrumentation. To complete this program, each student is required to complete two clinical experiences.

Following completion of this medical imaging certificate program, students are able to demonstrate professional and appropriate communication skills and develop efficient problem-solving and critical thinking skills. They will also function as competent and qualified entry-level professionals.

While this is open to registered radiologic technologists, those who hold credentials from the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board for Nuclear Medicine or the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography may also apply.

Howard Community College

Howard Community College

  • Location: Columbia, Maryland
  • Online Delivery Method: Online
  • Time it takes to complete: 4 months
  • Completion Rate: undisclosed
  • Types of Aid: grants, scholarships

The diagnostic medical cardiac sonography certificate program offered at Howard Community College is designed for sonographers who are interested in becoming more competitive in the field. This online didactic coursework will prepare students for the ARDMS Cardiac Registry Board exam.

This four-month certificate program is offered in partnership with the school’s Division of Health Sciences.

Students who can complete the program successfully are prepared to enter the field confidently and become more equipped and prepared to sit for the National Board Exam.

This certificate program features the ARDMS SPI Registry Review that aligns with the National Education Curriculum for Sonography provided by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Students will have an extensive review on:

  • Physics Principles
  • Pulse-echo Instrumentation
  • Ultrasound Transducers
  • Hemodynamics
  • Quality Assurance
  • Doppler Principles
  • Patient Care

Primary Types of Ultrasound Technicians Programs

1. Abdomen

This is one of the most common online diagnostic medical sonography programs. In abdominal sonography, students will study everything about the abdominal organs: gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, and liver. After you complete your sonography program, you can easily help doctors diagnose whether a patient has specific conditions like abdominal fluids, blood clots, liver cancer, gallstones, appendicitis, and more.

Sometimes, these sonography technicians might also be asked to assist in minor surgeries to guide and help doctors retrieve tissue for biopsy procedures.

2. Breast

Ultrasound technology is the best option for women who cannot get exposed to radiation imaging technology. Thus, ultrasound technicians can help doctors study and evaluate a woman’s breast when she is under 25, nursing, pregnant, or has silicone implants. Your skills can help determine whether a breast lump might be benign, malignant, intraductal papilloma, fibrocystic masse, or necrotic mammary fat.

3. Fetal Echocardiography

Although this is a separate procedure, fetal echocardiography is still closely related to ultrasound. In fact, this is usually requested following an ultrasound procedure that results in inconclusive results, especially on issues related to fetal heart development. Doctors may also request for this procedure when an ultrasound shows cardiac abnormalities, or if a fetus is in a high-risk group.

For example, a fetus has a family of heart disease, the mother may have used dangerous drugs or alcohol during pregnancy, or of the mother may have specific conditions that could compromise fetal health.

4. Obstetrics and Gynecology

In this area, ultrasound techs will perform pelvic ultrasounds to help doctors evaluate and diagnose the health of a woman’s fallopian tubes, cervix, uterus, ovaries, bladder, and vagina.

5. Pediatric Sonography

Those who love working with children will do well as pediatric sonography technicians. These medical sonographers can help in promoting pediatric health with non-harmful and non-invasive ultrasound procedures that will help diagnose programs in a child’s abdominal cavity. Students complete this specialty with additional knowledge in imaging sciences that detail the child’s abdominal organs and circulatory systems.

6. Vascular Sonography

You need a professional certification and a higher education (associate degree or bachelor’s degree) in this specialty to practice. They will take images of the body’s arteries, veins, lymph vessels, capillaries, and lymph nodes. These professionals also look for blockages that might lead to clots, heart attacks, or problems leading to lymphoma.

7. Adult Echocardiography

This specialty can only be practiced by a registered diagnostic cardiac sonographer who can expertly look at medical imaging of an adult heart by studying the sound wave echo off that major organ. Adult echocardiography helps evaluate patients who may have severe or minor complaints regarding their circulation or heart.

8. Pediatric Echocardiography

Echocardiography is very crucial for children with heart problems. They may have birth defects, heart murmurs, and other conditions.

9. Musculoskeletal

Ultrasound technicians are very helpful in evaluating problems related to the musculoskeletal system. These technicians assess tendons, muscles, nerves, and ligaments to help doctors check for injuries and diseases.

How to Become an Ultrasound Technician

Pursuing a career as an ultrasound technician offers a unique combination of medical diagnostic imaging expertise and patient interaction. Let’s walk you through the whole step towards becoming a professional sonographer.

Attend on-campus or online ultrasound tech schools for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers.

You don’t need a bachelor’s degree or an associate degree to be able to become an ultrasound technician. In fact, ultrasound technician programs from tech schools are enough. To do this, you need to do a lot of research on various programs to assess which ones are the best for you. You need to decide on different things, such as:

  • Whether you want to complete your sonography program in person or through an online program.
  • Whether after your sonography certificate program, you wish to pursue an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree program.
  • The program that you believe will make the best overall fit.

Regardless of the diagnostic medical sonography program you choose, you will learn many things like anatomy, ultrasound physics, patient care, and specialized imaging sciences.

Undergo clinical training.

Hands-on experience is a very crucial aspect in the medical field. Each accredited program incorporates a particular amount of clinical training as part of its sonography and ultrasound programs. Through this real-world experience that is completed in large clinics or hospitals, students are able to use the classroom knowledge in actual medical settings.

Earn the relevant certificates and licensure.

In the diagnostic medical sonography field, licensure requirements vary by state. However, these requirements usually require students to pass a state-administered certification exam after completing a program. Students can earn a certification through various organizations like the ARDMS by passing their exam.

Online Sonographer Trade Schools - fact

Ultrasound Certification and Specialization

Whether you are a registered vascular technologist or a magnetic resonance imaging expert, the journey doesn’t end after you complete your associate or bachelor’s degree program or a degree completion program in sonography. You need to earn a nationally recognized certification too. Not only will this guarantee that you possess the required level of knowledge, but this will also prepare you for future employment requirements.

Here are the most common certification organizations in the field of sonography.

American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (ARDMS)

To earn the ARDMS credential, students must complete their education requirements from accredited programs and have at least 12 months of clinical sonography experience (full-time). Exam specialties in ARDMS include:

  • Abdominal Sonography
  • Breast Sonography
  • Fetal Echocardiography
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Pediatric Sonography
  • Adult Echocardiography
  • Pediatric Echocardiography
  • Vascular Sonography

The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT)

To become American Registry of Radiologic Technologists certified, you need to have an associate or bachelor’s degree from an accreditation of allied health sonography program. The exam specialties include vascular sonography and breast sonography.

Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI)

The Cardiovascular Credentialing International certifications require a combination of clinical experience and education. One must be an expert on basic medical science, vascular sonography procedures, and magnetic resonance imaging physics, among others. CCI Exam specialties include:

  • Advanced Cardiac Sonography
  • Registered Congenital Cardiac Sonography
  • Registered Cardiac Sonography
  • Registered Phlebotomy Sonographer
  • Registered Vascular Specialist

Careers in Sonography

Medical Sonographers

The general sonography program provides students with the chance to support healthcare teams in care plans and diagnosis. The average annual salary of medical sonographers is $78,210.

Diagnostic Medical Sonographers

These ultrasound technicians directly work with healthcare teams in diagnosing abnormalities in body systems. They give their valuable expertise in the field while creating treatment plans and make a difference in providing quick and efficient diagnoses. Their median annual salary is $63,020.

Obstetric Sonographers

These ultrasound techs provide insight into the health and growth of a growing fetus. They usually work in OB-GYN clinics, healthcare facilities, or with doctors, giving expert knowledge of fetal development.

Research and Medical Lab Sonographers

These type of sonographers process and study images and provide ample research support. This career offer job-seekers the chance to practice the field of sonography outside of traditional healthcare center or hospital settings. Workers need an advanced ultrasound technician degree with ample experience to qualify for this position.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will it take to earn a Sonography degree or certification?

Certificate programs in sonography can be completed in as little as a year, provided that you maintain a full-time course load. However, associate degree programs can take two years to complete, while bachelor’s degree programs in sonography can reach up to four years.

What kind of accreditation should you look for in an online Sonography program?

When you scout for online sonography and ultrasound programs, accreditation is very important. A regional accreditation is a minimum standard. However, you need to seek a national certification as well, considering sonography programs will launch your career.

For sonography certificate programs, always look for the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs approval.

Do ultrasound technicians need to be licensed or certified?

In general, employers do not require ultrasound technicians to hold a license. However, most employers still prefer candidates who hold the relevant certification, specifically from the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography.

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