Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Techni
Training & Qualifications
Diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians, including vascular technologists, need formal education, such as an associate's degree or a postsecondary certificate. Many employers also require professional certification.
Colleges and universities offer both associate's and bachelor's degree programs in sonography and in cardiovascular and vascular technology. One-year certificate programs also are available from colleges or hospitals.
Sonography, cardiovascular, and vascular education programs usually include courses in anatomy, medical terminology, and applied sciences. Most sonography programs are divided into the specialized fields that correspond to the relevant certification exams, such as abdominal sonography or breast sonography. Cardiovascular and vascular programs include coursework in either invasive or noninvasive cardiovascular or vascular technology procedures. In addition to classroom study, most programs also include a clinical component in which students earn credit while working under a more experienced technologist in a hospital, physician's office, or imaging laboratory.
High school students who are interested in diagnostic medical sonography, cardiovascular technology, or vascular technology should take courses in anatomy, physiology, physics, and math.
Diagnostic imaging workers can earn certification by graduating from an accredited program and passing an exam. Most of the certifications are for specialties in diagnostic imaging; for example, a sonographer can earn a certification in abdominal sonography. Most diagnostic imaging workers have at least one certification, but many earn multiple certifications.
In addition, many employers prefer to hire candidates who have a Basic Life Support certification, which shows they are trained to provide CPR.
Few states require diagnostic medical sonographers to be licensed. Professional certification is typically required for licensure; other requirements vary by state. Contact state medical boards for more information.
Detail oriented. Diagnostic imaging workers must follow precise instructions to obtain the images needed to diagnose and treat patients. They must also pay attention to the screen while scanning a patient's body because the cues that contrast healthy areas with unhealthy ones may be subtle.
Hand-eye coordination. To get quality images, diagnostic imaging workers must be able to accurately move equipment on the patient's body in response to what they see on the screen.
Interpersonal skills. Diagnostic imaging workers must work closely with patients. Sometimes patients are in extreme pain or mental stress, and they must get cooperation from the patient to create usable images.
Physical stamina. Diagnostic imaging workers are on their feet for long periods and must be able to lift and move patients who need assistance.
Technical skills. Diagnostic imaging workers must understand how to operate complex machinery and computerized instruments.