California Sonography Tech Careers and Degrees
Receiving Your Sonogram Technician Training in California
After obtaining a high school diploma, the first step in becoming a sonogram technician is to obtain an associate degree from an accredited sonography program. These diagnostic medical sonography programs are typically 12 months or longer, combining classroom education in subjects such as anatomy, pathology, ultrasound equipment, and patient care with clinical experience in medical centers. Upon completion of your degree, you may be eligible to sit for certification examinations by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS).
California has several programs in diagnostic medical sonography. Some of these sonography programs will accept applicants with a high school diploma or GED. Others have college course prerequisites, so be sure to check each program for its specifics. Completion of one of these sonography programs, as opposed to an unaccredited program with a much shorter duration, may prepare you more fully for a career as a diagnostic medical sonographer, provide you with clinical experience before your job search, and ensure that you can sit for your examination straight out of the program.
If you have already completed a bachelor’s degree or higher, you still need to complete 12 months of clinical experience before you can become certified. This can be accomplished through completing a sonography program, or possibly by finding a job that will allow minimal experience if you have a related degree.
Sonography Technician Licensing in California
To become a sonogram technician, California requires credentials from an organization such as the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography. A few states have passed sonography licensure laws, but California is not one of them. This may change in the future. Documented completion of a sonography program, usually in the form of a transcript or certificate, and a government-issued ID are required to take the examination for certification.
If you have completed an accredited sonography program, you need to pass the ARDMS examination to become certified. You may also sit for the examination if you have a qualifying combination of education and clinical experience (in nearly all cases, 12 months of experience is required). Regardless, once you have become certified, you can begin your job search as a highly qualified and in-demand sonogram technician.
Career Outlook for Sonogram Technicians in California
Ultrasound imaging technology is being used more and more as patients choose it over procedures that are invasive or involve radiation exposure. Further, the aging baby boomer generation’s increasing need for diagnosed medical conditions and healthcare shift towards outpatient care ensures that your occupation may remain in high demand for years to come. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, sonographer technician employment is expected to increase by 17% between 2016 and 2026, which is far higher than the expected increase in job openings in other fields (2018).
Nearly 80% of medical sonographers work in hospitals (state, local, and private), but others work in physician’s offices, medical and diagnostic laboratories, and a small percentage work in outpatient care centers (BLS, 2018). Sonographer technicians usually work full-time, and much like most healthcare occupations, you can expect to occasionally work on evenings, weekends, or overnight.
Finally, the nature of ultrasound imaging grants give you many options for specialization: obstetrics and gynecology, breast, cardiac, or ophthalmologic are just a few possibilities. With experience and additional sonography credentials, sonogram technicians may also grow to become chief technologists, supervisors, or consultants. Similarly, the addition of a bachelor’s or master’s degree could also grant you the ability to become an educator. Diagnostic medical sonography is a thriving occupation with plenty of opportunity for growth, and if you want to work directly with patients in the healthcare sector, this could be the right job for you.