Skip to content
Home » Blog » How Long is Ultrasound Tech School?

How Long is Ultrasound Tech School?

The length of ultrasound technician school can vary depending on the program and the level of education you pursue. Generally, there are a few common pathways:

Program TypeDuration
Certificate Programs1 year
Associate’s Degree Programs2 years
Bachelor’s Degree Programs4 years

Certificate Programs

Certificate programs in ultrasound technology are typically designed for healthcare professionals who are looking to specialize in ultrasound or for those who want to change their career path within the healthcare industry.

Certificate programs offer a focused and expedient way for healthcare professionals to gain specialized skills in sonography, leading to career advancement opportunities in the medical imaging field.

Duration and Structure

Certificate programs usually last about 12 months, but this can vary slightly based on the institution and the specific program. These programs are often intensive, as they are designed to build on existing healthcare knowledge and experience.

Admission Requirements

 To enroll in a certificate program in ultrasound technology, candidates often need to have a background in a related healthcare field. This could include being a registered nurse, radiologic technologist, or medical technologist. Some programs may also require prerequisites in science courses such as anatomy, physiology, or physics.


The curriculum generally focuses on teaching students how to use diagnostic medical ultrasound equipment and interpret the images produced. Core subjects often include anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, sonographic physics and instrumentation, and patient care. There is also a strong emphasis on practical skills through clinical rotations and hands-on training.

Clinical Experience

An essential component of these programs is the clinical practicum or externship. This hands-on experience takes place in hospitals, clinics, or other healthcare facilities and gives students the opportunity to apply their classroom learning in real-world settings under the supervision of experienced sonographers and medical professionals.

Certification Preparation

Many certificate programs are designed to prepare students for certification exams, such as those offered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). Passing these certification exams is often a requirement for employment in the field.

Career Opportunities

Graduates of certificate programs in ultrasound technology typically work as diagnostic medical sonographers or ultrasound technicians. They can find employment in various settings including hospitals, medical clinics, physicians’ offices, and diagnostic laboratories.


For individuals who already have a healthcare background, certificate programs offer a quicker path to specializing in ultrasound technology compared to pursuing a new associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

Ultrasound Associate Degree Programs

Associate degree programs in ultrasound technology, also known as diagnostic medical sonography, are popular pathways for individuals seeking to enter the field as ultrasound technicians or sonographers. These programs typically require two years of full-time study and are widely available at community colleges, technical schools, and some universities.

An associate degree in ultrasound technology provides comprehensive training, combining theoretical knowledge with practical skills, preparing graduates for a career as a sonographer. This pathway is well-suited for individuals starting their healthcare careers or those seeking a career change within the healthcare field.

Duration and Structure: Most associate degree programs in ultrasound technology are designed to be completed in about two years of full-time study. This typically includes both classroom instruction and clinical experience. The curriculum is structured to provide a balance of general education courses, core sonography courses, and hands-on clinical practice.

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements can vary by program, but generally, applicants need a high school diploma or GED. Some programs might require prerequisite courses in areas like anatomy, physiology, physics, and math, or healthcare experience.


The curriculum in an associate degree program for ultrasound technology usually covers a broad range of topics, including:

  • Anatomy and Physiology: Understanding the human body and its systems.
  • Physics and Instrumentation: Learning the principles of ultrasound technology and how to operate the equipment.
  • Pathophysiology: Studying diseases and how they affect the body, which is crucial for understanding ultrasound images.
  • Patient Care: Skills in interacting with patients, including communication and ethical considerations.
  • Specialized Sonography Courses: Focused studies in areas such as abdominal, obstetric, gynecological, vascular, or cardiac sonography.

Clinical Experience

A significant component of these programs is the clinical practicum. Students gain hands-on experience in healthcare settings under the supervision of experienced professionals, applying their classroom knowledge in real-world scenarios.

Certification Preparation

Graduates of associate degree programs are typically well-prepared to sit for certification examinations, such as those offered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS), the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), or Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI).

Career Opportunities

Completing an associate degree in ultrasound technology can lead to employment as a diagnostic medical sonographer in various settings, including hospitals, outpatient care centers, medical and diagnostic laboratories, and physicians’ offices.


It’s important for students to choose a program that is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation ensures the quality of the program and is often required for certification eligibility.

Transferability to Bachelor’s Programs

Some students may choose to further their education by transferring to a bachelor’s degree program in sonography or a related field. Credits from an accredited associate degree program are often transferable to these four-year programs.

Ultrasound Bachelor’s Degree Programs

Bachelor’s degree programs in ultrasound technology, also known as diagnostic medical sonography, offer a comprehensive and in-depth education in the field. These four-year programs are typically housed in universities and provide a blend of extensive academic coursework and practical clinical training.

A bachelor’s degree in ultrasound technology offers a more extensive and thorough education compared to certificate or associate degree programs. It provides a solid foundation in both the technical and theoretical aspects of sonography, along with enhanced opportunities for specialization, research, and career advancement. This path is suitable for individuals aiming for higher-level roles or a more in-depth understanding of the field.

Duration and Structure

Bachelor’s degree programs in ultrasound technology generally take four years to complete when attended full-time. The curriculum often includes general education requirements, advanced sonography courses, and extensive clinical training.

Admission Requirements

Admission to these programs usually requires a high school diploma or equivalent. Competitive programs may look for strong backgrounds in science and math. Some programs may also require completion of prerequisite courses in subjects like anatomy, physiology, and physics.


The curriculum in a bachelor’s program is more comprehensive than that of associate degree programs. It covers:

  • Advanced Sonography Techniques: In-depth study of ultrasound principles and instrumentation.
  • Specialized Areas of Sonography: Education in specialized fields like vascular, cardiac, pediatric, or musculoskeletal sonography.
  • Patient Care and Ethics: Advanced training in patient interaction, medical ethics, and healthcare laws.
  • Healthcare Management and Leadership: Courses that may cover aspects of healthcare administration and leadership skills.
  • Research and Methodology: Some programs include components of research methodology, enhancing the student’s ability to contribute to the field’s body of knowledge.

Clinical Experience

Bachelor’s programs typically include more extensive clinical training than certificate or associate degree programs. This hands-on experience is crucial for developing practical skills and is often conducted in various healthcare settings.

Certification Preparation

Graduates are well-prepared for certification exams by organizations like the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). Holding a bachelor’s degree may also provide an advantage in the certification process.

Career Opportunities

A bachelor’s degree can open doors to more advanced positions in the field, such as lead sonographer, manager, or educator roles. It may also offer greater flexibility in choosing specializations within sonography.


As with other medical programs, accreditation is important. Prospective students should look for programs accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

Further Education and Career Advancement

Graduates of bachelor’s programs in ultrasound technology are well-positioned to pursue further education, such as master’s degrees in healthcare administration, education, or a related field, which can further enhance career opportunities and potential for advancement.

Research Opportunities

Bachelor’s programs often provide more opportunities for research in the field of sonography, contributing to advancements in ultrasound technology and techniques.

Work to Boost Chicago

We partner with only premier sonography schools in the Chicago area. Find a course near you.
Apply. Complete your program. Help us achieve our vision!