Whether you’re an incoming college student or a career changer, setting career goals and finding a school that will help you reach them requires a lot of research. You may have decided to study sonography because it offers a promising and impactful career, or because you’d like to be one of the technicians earning $81,350 per year. Maybe you’re enticed by the promise of growing job opportunities over the next decade. Whatever your reason, the first step is finding an ultrasound tech school in Florida that offers a program that fits your budget, interests, and needs.
Sifting through the websites of dozens of individual sonography schools in Florida can be tedious and time-consuming, especially if you’re not quite sure which factors separate the good programs from the bad. In this guide we’ll walk you through some of the most popular ultrasound tech schools in Florida, the features that matter most, and the requirements you’ll have to meet post-graduation to get your career off the ground.
Standout Sonography and Ultrasound Tech Schools in Florida
Whether you’ve called Florida home for a month or a lifetime, you may find yourself in need of guidance when it comes to finding the best sonography schools in Florida. We’ve profiled three standout programs below to give you a big-picture perspective of what matters most when deciding where to pursue your education.
Keiser University (KU) offers an Associate of Science degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (DMS) accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) at their Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Melbourne, and New Port Richey campuses. Students can choose from one of two tracks, focusing on either an abdomen-extended/obstetrics and gynecology concentration or an abdomen-extended, obstetrics/gynecology, and vascular concentration.
To complete the program, students must earn between 81 and 91 credit hours depending on the track they’ve selected. Before being accepted into the program, students must pass a background check and drug screening, complete lower division general education classes with a minimum grade of C in each, and hold a cumulative grade average of 3.0. The program’s total cost ranges from $22,000 to $26,000, but can be offset by any number of the financial services KU provides. To get a clearer picture of how much you’re likely to pay at KU, check out the Net Price Calculator (NPC) tool on their website.
Nova Southeastern University Florida
Nova Southern University (NSU) Florida offers a 27-month, CAAHEP-accredited Bachelor’s in Medical Sonography degree. Students spend 15 months attending lectures and 12 gaining hands-on experience through clinical externships at facilities like Broward Health and Veterans Affairs Hospital. While NSU’s sonography program is not offered fully online, it does offer a hybrid approach that allows students to take courses like epidemiology, ethics, leadership, and conflict resolution online.
To be eligible for admission to the program, students must complete 30 semester hours of prerequisite courses, including social and behavioral sciences, anatomy, physiology, basic terminology, physics, and math with a minimum GPA of 2.75. The tuition cost for first and second-year students is $23,117 and$7,705 for third-year students, before scholarships, program discounts, or any other financial aid offered by NSU.
Valencia College offers a two-year, six-semester CAAHEP-accredited Diagnostic Medical Sonographer Associate in Science (AS) degree. Students must complete 77 credit hours with a minimum grade of C to graduate the program. Valencia offers a combination of theoretical lectures and clinical rotations to help students solidify their knowledge and gain practical experience. The program’s admission requirements include 24 credit hours in prerequisite courses, including anatomy, physiology, physics, and general psychology (some of which can be completed online) and a Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) score under two years old.
Graduates of the program are eligible to sit for the national certifying exams administered by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS), and conversely those who have already earned their credential as a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS) credential are eligible to receive credit towards this A.S. degree. Students pay $1,475 in fees and materials costs, in addition to instruction fees of $369.06 per credit hour. They must also pay distance learning fees of $8 per credit hour, and $750 for the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) examination.
The Ultimate Checklist for Choosing the Right Sonography School
It can be tempting to choose the sonography schools you plan to apply to in Florida based solely on popularity, but we can guarantee you’ll be better off doing so based on factors that matter to you and your future career. Below is a checklist of features you can assess to find the right ultrasound tech school in Florida for you:
Answering Your Questions About Sonography Programs in Florida
We’ve covered a lot of ground so far, but you may still have some unanswered questions regarding Florida sonography schools, which is to be expected. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common questions among prospective sonography students for you to review:
Are there online sonography programs in Florida?
Finding institutions that offer fully online sonography programs in Florida might be challenging given how inherently hands-on sonography is. However, schools such as Valencia College offer hybrid programs that allow you to complete some prerequisite courses online and others on campus.
Can I get an advanced degree in sonography?
Advanced degrees are uncommon in sonography. Most practicing sonographers hold an associate degree, while others pursue a bachelor’s degree. Sonographers require more in-depth training than ultrasound technicians and can go on to complete programs like Eastern Florida State College’s Advanced Technical Certificate (ATC) in Vascular Sonography or Echocardiography.
How do I get certified?
Students who wish to earn the necessary certification to practice must sit a Sonography Principles and Instrumentation (SPI) examination and a corresponding specialty exam according to their desired accreditation. Unlike RDMS, Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS), Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT), and Registered Musculoskeletal Sonographer (RMSKS) certifications that require SPI examinations, a Midwife Sonography Certificate requires a Midwife (MW) Sonographer examination.
How much does a sonography and ultrasound tech program cost?
The cost of online sonography programs in Florida can vary significantly and cost as much as $48,000. Associate degrees are significantly less expensive than bachelor’s degrees, although tuition also varies according to your residency status. A bachelor’s degree in Medical Sonography at NSU Florida costs $23,117 for the first and second year (a fairly standard price across Florida programs) and $7,705 for the third.
What is the difference between a sonographer and an ultrasound technician?
It’s common for people to use the titles sonographer and ultrasound technician interchangeably, as they both operate ultrasound machines to monitor body organs and systems. Although the difference is mostly semantic, sonographers are required to complete additional training and certifications.
What prerequisites do I need before I start a sonography program?
The prerequisites typically vary depending on the school and degree level you’re pursuing. Some schools may just require a high school diploma, whereas other institutions require students to have completed a certain number of credit hours in courses like anatomy, physics, and math, among others. For example, NSU Florida’s admission requirements include 30 credit hours in prerequisite courses, including social and behavioral sciences.
What jobs can I get after graduation and how well do they pay?
Completing an online sonography program in Florida makes you eligible to work at a variety of medical facilities. In 2020, 60% of diagnostic medical sonographers worked in local, state, or private hospitals, 20% worked in physician’s offices, and 15% worked in either laboratory settings or outpatient care centers. While sonographer salaries vary according to your education, experience, and location, diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists (two of the most popular positions among Florida sonography school graduates) make an average of $78,210 annually.
A Deeper Look at Ultrasound Tech Requirements in Florida
The requirements to work as an ultrasound tech typically depend on your certification and location. Explore the requirements for sonography and ultrasound students in Florida below:
ARDMS provides a list of clinical and academic prerequisites applicants must meet before sitting for their certification exams. Applicants with backgrounds in another allied health field need 12 months of full-time clinical ultrasound experience, while those who have completed an accredited sonography program do not require any additional clinical experience to earn their certification.
Continuing Education, Renewal & Career Advancement
The ARDMS credentials you’re applying for determine your future Continuing Medical Education (CME) requirements. For example, the continuous education requirements to maintain your certification as a Registered Musculoskeletal Ultrasound Sonographer are 10 ARDMS-accepted CME credits in musculoskeletal ultrasound and 20 more ARDMS-accepted CMEs in any other specialty.
There are several educational pathways you can follow to become a sonographer. Both an associate degree and a bachelor’s degree prepare you to sit for your Sonography Principles and Investigations (SPI) and associated specialty examinations.
Examination & Certification Requirements
Examination requirements differ slightly depending on the specific certification you’re pursuing. To earn your RDMS credential, you must meet the academic and clinical prerequisites we’ve discussed above and pass a physics exam, plus a corresponding specialty examination in abdomen, breast, fetal echocardiography, obstetrics and gynecology, or pediatric sonography, within five years.
Scope of Practice and Regulations
As an ultrasound and sonography technician in Florida, you will be subject to various state-specific regulations. For example, Florida’s Senate and House of Representatives passed a bill mandating all gluteal fat grafting physicians to use ultrasound technology to guide their injections. Regulations governing the specific roles and responsibilities sonographers can perform typically differ depending on the region. Nationally, sonographers’ scope of practice is limited to performing invasive procedures in collaboration with licensed practitioners, conducting diagnostic and therapeutic ultrasound procedures under the instruction of licensed practitioners, and ensuring optimal performance of ultrasound equipment. Employers set more specific guidelines regarding sonographers’ roles according to state laws, facility accreditation standards, and insurance reimbursement laws.
Career & Salary Outlook for Sonographers in Florida
The job outlook for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers in Florida shows a projected 10% growth in the availability of new jobs, with a total of 14,200 new jobs expected to become available between 2022 and 2032.
Your potential salary as a sonographer depends largely on the city you work in, your education, and your level of experience. On average, though, you can expect your salary to be somewhere in the range of $57,820 to $83,310. Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island offers the highest average salary at $80,550, while Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach offers the lowest at $60,550. Keep in mind that completing an advanced online sonography program in Florida can increase your earning potential.