The top 10 accredited online colleges for ultrasound technicians could get you qualified for a new career within a year or build on the experience you’ve already gained in the industry to put better opportunities within your reach.
Prospective sonographers have choices about where they receive their career training. Both traditional universities and accredited online colleges offer current and aspiring ultrasound technicians the chance to pursue higher education.
The benefit of studying fully remotely is that you don’t have to stop working to gain your certification or degree. Specializing in more than one area of sonography can give you access to a wider and more diverse range of job opportunities, so pursuing the education and training needed for building skills in multiple areas could improve your job security for life.
What Level of Education Do You Need to Become an Ultrasound Technician?
Degree programs and certificate programs can be found at both community colleges and universities throughout the nation. You don’t strictly need a bachelor’s degree to become an ultrasound technician; an associate’s degree or postsecondary certificate will meet the minimum education requirements for the industry. In some cases, this means you could complete your sonography studies in as little as a year.
What Will You Learn With a Degree Related to Ultrasound Tech?
In addition to gaining a strong foundation in anatomy and physiology, physics, and math, you’ll typically spend your time learning about and practicing noninvasive procedures relating to cardiovascular or vascular sonography. In most cases, you’ll be expected to complete a set number of hours’ worth of clinical practice experience before graduation.
What Are the Best Ultrasound Technician Degrees?
Accredited Online College uses the most recent data from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Each program is scored individually. It’s then compared to all other universities offering that degree to determine the final score you see by each ranking. Accredited Online College considers affordability, student-to-faculty ratio, and the number of programs offered on campus and online. For more information, see our methodology page.
After completing Washburn University’s diagnostic medical sonography program, students are eligible to sit for the ARDMS or CCI credential examinations. In the course of their studies, enrolled students will choose to pursue one of three concentration tracks: General, Cardiac, or Vascular.
While all medical sonography coursework in Washburn University’s program is available in a distance-learning format, students in this program also need to meet clinical practice requirements. These placements can usually be arranged close to your home or place of study. Thanks to Washburn University’s large network of affiliate sites, students will have the opportunity to study in hospitals, doctors’ offices, clinics, and other locations.
For sonography programs at Washburn University, tuition for the 2019-2020 academic year was around $14,541—$393 per credit hour—for the cardiac and vascular tracks, while general sonography undergraduates paid tuition rates of around $16,899.
Jackson College’s online medical sonography programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs; JC is one of only two institutions in the country to hold this claim. In addition to pursuing the Associate’s in General Sonography, students can study vascular and cardiac sonography.
This program leads to an Associate of Applied Science degree. In addition to completing coursework online, students of JC’s sonography degree programs will practice and apply their knowledge by completing at least 1,350 supervised clinical hours in settings like hospitals and clinics.
Total estimated program costs for the 2021-2022 academic year ranged from $30,846 for in-district students to $45,474 for out-of-state students in the cardiac sonography track. Estimated costs for the general sonography track ranged from $32,850 to $48,432 depending on residency, and for the most expensive track, vascular sonography, program costs ranged from $33,453 to $49,194. There’s also a financial aid and cost calculator available on the university’s website that you can use if you’re interested in working out your own specific costs.
Siena Heights University
Siena Heights University offers a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Technology, which is essentially a degree-completion program. If you’ve already completed an Associate’s in Radiologic Technology—or, alternatively, if you have completed hospital-based training and have two years of work experience—then you can obtain your bachelor’s degree at SHU.
The structure for this BS degree program doesn’t include practical work requirements, so this program can be completed entirely online. SHU does offer an associate’s degree in the subject, and students can add a minor to their degree plan to further specialize. Students who have completed other specialty areas could be awarded credits toward their degree.
SHU’s online learning program has been recognized as one of the top-ranked online programs in Michigan, in addition to other accolades. The undergraduate direct cost of earning a bachelor’s degree at Siena Heights University is estimated at around $40,222 annually, with a list of the most up-to-date fee schedules available on the school’s tuition and fees page.
Ferris State University
For admission into Ferris State University’s certificate program, you’ll need to be a practicing member of the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography or the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. You’ll also need to be spending a minimum of four days each calendar month working as a sonographer, as documented by your employer.
Once enrolled, students will complete a number of core classes that cover venous ultrasound, cerebrovascular ultrasound, and arterial subject matter. As a fully online and reasonably short certificate program, this curriculum is a good fit for working professionals who want to increase their skills and competence in the field of sonography. Undergraduate tuition at Ferris State University is estimated at around $12,740 per year for the 2021-2022 school year. An online learning fee of $12 per credit hour is applied to all remote courses. You can obtain more accurate estimates for this program by using the estimated cost calculator on the university’s website.
Fort Hays State University
Fort Hays State University’s online medical diagnostic imaging program can be completed entirely remotely and leads to a Bachelor’s in Medical Diagnostic Imaging. You’ll have the opportunity to cross-train in numerous areas of imaging, such as cardiovascular interventional technology, mammography, and magnetic resonance imaging. This opportunity is critical, as graduates with specializations in more than one area have the potential to be in greater demand in the job market, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
FHSU’s program comprises 124 credits, around half of which will be used to provide you with a strong foundation in general education. As part of your program, you will need to complete laboratory assignments; however, there is no requirement that sonography students participate in an internship or another kind of clinical placement, which makes this one of the few fully online degree-completion programs of its kind in the nation.
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
The College of Health Professionals at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences offers two degree programs in imaging sciences. There’s a Bachelor of Science program for first-time undergraduate students and a fully online bachelor’s degree-completion program for students who already possess an associate’s degree in a relevant area.
The Bachelor of Science program is a typical 120-credit degree program. The coursework for this program consists of 35 credits of general education coursework and 85 credits of courses from the radiologic imaging sciences curriculum. The degree-completion program, on the other hand, requires fewer credits—since students already have an associate’s degree—and involves practicum courses; more information on both programs can be found on the school’s website.
The total cost of attendance for Arkansas residents for the 2021-2022 school year was estimated at around $32,245, which includes tuition of around $21,250. For non-residents, this rises to around $59,615, owing to the increased cost of tuition.
State Fair Community College
State Fair Community College’s degree in diagnostic medical sonography comprises 80.5 credit hours of study and leads to an Associate of Applied Science degree. After completing this program, you’ll also qualify for professional licensing within the state of Missouri, though you should check whether you’ll be eligible for certification or licensure in other states if you plan on working elsewhere.
Accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, the degree offers general and cardiac tracks, each of which lasts for 22 months. You’ll complete courses online, participate in an on-campus sonography lab, and be expected to complete internships at assigned clinical sites. The general track provides study in subjects including vascular, gynecology, obstetrics, and abdominal areas of health.
SFCC offers some of the lowest online tuition rates around. Base tuition for the medical sonography program for the 2021-2022 school year ranged from $317-$437 per credit, depending on whether you’re a Missouri resident and reside in-district. Additional online tuition rates and technology fees may apply.
Advent Health University
Advent Health University offers a Bachelor of Science in Imaging Sciences degree that in 2021 earned the distinction of being ranked third on a list of national radiology programs with the Best Return on Investment. In this program, you’ll have the option of six specialty tracks, which include Imaging Leadership, Computed Tomography, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Vascular Interventional, Sonography, and an Interdisciplinary track.
In addition to being a fully online program, this curriculum’s duration is flexible; some students complete the program in as little as 18 months of study, but others take longer, balancing their coursework with a busy work schedule. Much like their campus counterparts, all online students also receive structured support, including library access, online tutorials, and counseling.
Fees are low at AHU, with a $20 undergraduate application fee and $300 per trimester matriculation fee. Undergraduate tuition for online programs is charged at a rate of around $540 per credit hour for the 2021-2022 school year. For a more accurate idea of your costs, check out the university’s tuition calculator.
Oregon Institute of Technology
Oregon Institute of Technology offers a fully online Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography that can lead to a role as a qualified diagnostic medical sonographer. Course work in basic medical science is paired with ultrasound courses, and you’ll gain a general education foundation, too.
In order to be eligible for this degree program, you will need to be a Registered Diagnostic Sonographer under the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography, specifically in the specialty areas of obstetrics and abdomen. If you only hold one such credential, you will be required to complete additional coursework.
Oregon Tech’s online tuition rates for the 2021-2022 school year are just $281 per credit for undergraduate students, regardless of residency. You’ll also pay an online course technology fee of $65 per course, which gives you access to the university’s e-learning system, Canvas. There’s also an Online Matriculation fee of $50 due in your first term.
University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College
University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College was one of the first universities to start offering online programs. All University of Cincinnati Online students benefit from studying under experienced and nationally recognized faculty members—the same professors who lead the traditional, campus-based programs.
UC’s Bachelor of Radiation Science Technology degree is suitable for those already working in the field, with leadership training built into the program. You’ll have the opportunity to specialize further in fields like Mammography and Computer Tomography, but there’s also a dedicated Leadership track. Zero campus visits are required, making this an ideal choice for busy, working professionals.
While non-residents pay higher rates of tuition at many universities, the difference between residents and non-residents at UC Online is small. Resident tuition and fees for this program were charged at around $532 per credit for the 2021-2022 school year, while non-residents paid $547. The school’s tuition webpage page has a useful calculator and details all fees that apply, too.
How Much Do Ultrasound Technicians Earn?
According to data from the BLS, diagnostic medical sonographers earned a median salary of around $75,920 per year, or $36 per hour, in 2020. This median pay rate was a little less than double the national average salary for all occupations combined, a fact which demonstrates that the earning potential for this field is clearly very strong.
According to PayScale, salaries for diagnostic medical sonographers can rise as high as around $93,000 for the most experienced candidates. Reaching this high earning level requires a number of years of experience in the field. Candidates looking to increase their earning potential should consider adding other areas of specialization to their skills.
What Do Ultrasound Technicians Do?
Ultrasound technicians, also known as sonographers, work with doctors and other health professionals to help diagnose patients suffering from illnesses. You’ll work primarily with specialist equipment that can harmlessly and non-invasively penetrate the body’s tissues using high-frequency sound waves. This equipment allows you to capture images of a patient’s vital organs to aid in the diagnosis of illnesses.
There’s more to the job, however, than simply operating the equipment. You’ll also prepare and maintain the examination room and equipment, record findings, ensure that patient records are up to date, and communicate with other professionals on your findings so that patients can receive any necessary follow-up care.
While the role involves working as part of an interdisciplinary healthcare team, you may spend periods working alone with little supervision. You need to be highly organized, approachable, and personable, all while maintaining professionalism and confidentiality. You also need to be able to solve problems and make critical decisions.
What Is the Career Outlook for an Ultrasound Technician?
Like most roles in healthcare, the career outlook for these professionals is excellent. According to the BLS, career opportunities for ultrasound technicians and other medical sonographers are predicted to grow by around 19%—a rate that is much faster than the national average — between 2020 and 2030. This projected increase in jobs would amount to around 14,400 new positions being created. Those who qualify and gain certification in more than one area of specialty are predicted to fare even better.
Do Ultrasound Technicians Use Math?
While certificate programs that are usually intended for those already working as an ultrasound technician may not require much math coursework, some degree of math will typically be integrated into your associate’s or bachelor’s degree program. When you start working as a sonographer, you’ll need to use basic math in your day-to-day role. College algebra is often a prerequisite, but you’re unlikely to need to use much calculus as a practicing sonographer. Quantitative job duties may include reporting on numbers and comparing results against ranges.
What Classes Do Ultrasound Technicians Take?
In most cases, you will need to meet certain requirements to gain admission to a diagnostic medical sonographer degree program. (Check out our list of 10 Accredited Online Colleges for Diagnostic Medical Sonography.) These requirements typically include having earned an average GPA of around 2.5 across all courses, including anatomy and physiology, general physics, English composition, medical terminology, college algebra, some social sciences, and biology.
Most ultrasound technician programs will include a general education component, which may form up to half of the credits that make up your final degree. The remainder of your coursework will usually be a split between medical imaging courses and a practicum or internship to gain clinical experience.
Can You Become an Ultrasound Technician With a Radiography Degree?
If you’re a health professional who already has a radiography degree and some amount of experience working as a radiographer or technician, then you may be able to gain sonography experience through on-the-job training. That said, some medical imaging degree programs cover both disciplines.
Bear in mind that it’s likely you will need to gain further licensure or credentials depending on the state in which you wish to practice. If you lack the needed skills or experience in sonography, the good news is that you could become qualified in as little as one year. Certificate programs are offered by many accredited online colleges, which can be completed quickly.
If you’re interested in pursuing higher education, then you should check out the 30 Accredited Online Colleges in Health Science and the 30 Accredited Online Colleges in Health Informatics!