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Sonography and Ultrasound Tech Schools in NC: Best Online/Campus

Even if you know you want to become a sonographer, selecting the right program can be difficult. Use this guide to learn more about your North Carolina sonography and ultrasound tech school options.

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Are you dreaming of a career as an ultrasound technician or sonographer in North Carolina? Do you imagine spending your days performing ultrasounds on pregnant patients to check on their growing babies, or working with physicians to diagnose and treat heart defects?

Whether you’ve just graduated high school or have been weighing the possibility of changing careers for as long as you can remember, you can be confident that there are plenty of amazing in-person and online sonography programs in NC to choose from.

If you’re struggling to narrow down your options, consider asking yourself a few questions. Do you want to attend college physically or virtually? Do you meet the admission requirements of the NC programs that interest you? Does a sonography program fit into your current budget? Keep reading to get answers to these questions and more so you can feel confident about choosing the right sonography and ultrasound technician school for you.

When researching sonography programs in NC, both online and on-campus, it’s essential to understand their curriculum details, costs, admission requirements, and accreditations. It’s enough to make your head spin, but analyzing and comparing these factors can help you select the perfect program for you and help turn your dreams into a reality. Take a look at some of the most popular sonography and ultrasound technician schools in NC featured below to get a better idea of what to look for in other programs.

Central Carolina Community College

Central Carolina Community College (CCCC) offers a five-semester, on-campus General Medical Sonographer Associate Degree program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Students must take 74 semester credit hours to graduate, during which time they take classes in cross-sectional anatomy and introductory vascular, abdominal, and obstetrics/gynecology sonography, among others. By the end of this program students are equipped to work in hospitals, surgical clinics, doctor’s offices, outpatient imaging centers, and obstetric clinics. The program is significantly less expensive for NC residents, who can expect to pay roughly $9,912, than for out of state-students, who pay more than twice that.

Once students complete the program, they become eligible to sit for American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) exams. In 2022, 100% of job-seeking CCCC students landed jobs after completing the program. To qualify for admission to this program, students must have a cumulative GPA of 2.0; pass the 6th or 7th edition of the Assessment Technologies Institute Test of Essential Academic Skills (ATI TEAS) exam; and complete this online Health Science Information Session.

Johnston Community College

Over the course of Johnston Community College’s five-semester, CAAHEP-accredited Medical Sonography Degree, students take a number of courses in cross-sectional anatomy, which teach them to identify normal and abnormal anatomy via sonography. They also cover abdominal, OB/GYN, and introductory vascular sonography, enabling them to diagnose diseases in abdominal structures, monitor fetal growth, and visualize blood vessels, respectively. The total cost of attendance ranges from $16,290 to $24,394 for NC residents, $21,421 to $29,525 for out-of-state students, and $14,145 to $24,394 for military or military-dependent students.

To qualify for admission to this program, students must maintain a 2.8 cumulative GPA, take the ATI TEAS exam, and complete pre-requisite courses in basic anatomy and physiology, public speaking, statistical methods, and conceptual physics.

In 2021, 80% of students in the program graduated, all of whom also secured jobs.

Wake Technical Community College

Wake Technical Community College offers another five-semester, CAAHEP-accredited Medical Sonography degree. Students must complete 75 credits to graduate from this 21-month program with their Associate of Applied Science, after which they can sit for ARDMS exams. Students attend classes at the college’s Perry Health Science campus, where they learn anatomy and physiology, physics, and techniques in vascular, abdominal, and OB/GYN sonography. While the college doesn’t offer sonography programs online in NC, they do offer a hybrid program, allowing students to get a mix of online and in-person learning.

Students gain experience through night and weekend sonography rotations at different healthcare facilities, where they interact with patients and other healthcare providers. In-state students can expect to pay between $15,764 and $23,576, while out-of-state students can expect to pay between $21,010 and $28,813. WTCC offers financial aid and tuition payment plans to help students manage their finances.

Sonography & Ultrasound Tech Program Checklist

Developing a checklist of must-have features can help you quickly and efficiently identify the best ultrasound tech or sonography school in NC for you. This checklist should include the factors that are most important to you. Maybe you want a school that will help you advance your career, find a clinical placement, or receive support. Explore the items we’ve included on our checklist (and consider adding them to yours).

Accreditation

Accreditation shows that educational institutions provide a level of education that meets acceptable standards and levels of quality. CAAHEP is the leading accrediting body for medical sonography programs. Attending CAAHEP-accredited sonography schools in NC allows you to learn the skills you need to pass your exams and become a sonographer.

Certification Preparation

When selecting suitable sonography programs in NC online or on-campus, look at whether they offer support and resources to prepare you for your certification exam(s). These resources include practice exams, notes, textbooks, and free tutoring. Not only do these resources improve a college program’s academic quality, they also increase the likelihood of you passing your exams, and launching your sonography career, on the first try.

Clinical Opportunities

Choosing an ultrasound tech or sonography school in NC that offers quality clinical placements can improve your clinical skills and help you build connections with practicing sonographers. A 2016 study showed that 75% of students who had the opportunity to complete a clinical placement had a pleasant learning experience, and 60% felt that they enhanced their clinical skills.

Comprehensive Curriculum

A comprehensive curriculum guarantees that students receive the appropriate theoretical and practical training to create high-quality images through ultrasound. According to Fitchburg State University, a good curriculum ensures that students stay up to date on global trends in their field and creates measurable benchmarks and learning outcomes.

Specialization Opportunities

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the need for diagnostic sonographers capable of diagnosing conditions in the United States’ aging adult population is increasing. As a result, specializing, and attending a sonography program in NC that gives you the opportunity to do so, is becoming more important. Programs that offer specialization opportunities train students to diagnose conditions that affect different systems, including the heart, abdomen, and musculoskeletal system.

Student Support & Job Placement Resources

Attending an ultrasound tech or sonography school in NC that gives you academic and professional support empowers you to secure a top job after graduation. Look into whether or not potential college matches hold job fairs, help students improve their soft skills, and organize on-campus mock interviews to prepare them for real-world job interviews.

FAQs About Ultrasound and Sonography Programs

You probably have several questions about applying for ultrasound tech and sonography programs in NC that we haven’t addressed yet. Whether you’re still curious about college costs, certifications, online programs, prerequisites, or potential jobs after college, the following FAQs about sonography and ultrasound tech schools in NC hold the answers you need:

Are there online sonography programs in North Carolina?

While there are no full-time online sonography programs in North Carolina, there are hybrid programs, such as the Medical Sonography Associate in Applied Science degree at Wake Technical Community College. If you’re looking for an online ultrasound tech school in NC, you might consider studying mammography at Pitt Community College — a two-semester certificate program that can help you become a registered mammographer.

Can I get an advanced degree in sonography?

Most sonography schools in NC offer an associate degree in diagnostic medical sonography, which allows students to apply for registration with the ARDMS. According to the ARDMS, most practicing sonographers earn their certification through an associate degree program, suggesting you don’t necessarily need a bachelor’s or advanced degree to work as a sonographer. In fact, master’s programs in sonography in NC are uncommon. If you want to gain a deeper understanding of the field, consider pursuing a Bachelor of Health Sciences with a concentration in Diagnostic Medical Sonography, like the one offered at South College Asheville.

How do I get certified?

To get certified as a medical sonographer, you must take the appropriate ARDMSexams, which can vary depending on your specialty of interest. For example, if you want to become a cardiac sonographer, you’d apply for the Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS) credential. You can also take specific exams to become a vascular, musculoskeletal, or diagnostic medical sonographer.

How much does a sonography and ultrasound tech program cost?

According to DataUSA, the median tuition cost for diagnostic medical sonography programs across the top five institutions was $4,050 for in-state students and $28,080 for out-of-state students, as of 2021. The average tuition for in-state students at sonography schools in NC ranges from $9,912 at Central Carolina Community College to $24,394 at Johnston Community College.

What is the difference between a sonographer and an ultrasound technician?

According to ARDMS, the terms “sonographer” and “ultrasound technician” are used interchangeably, but sonographers undergo additional training and gain extra certifications. Both use sound waves to visualize organs and diagnose disease. This imaging method differs from others because it uses sound instead of radiation to visualize organs.

What prerequisites do I need before I start a sonography program?

Those interested in sonography should take physiology, anatomy, mathematics, and physics in high school. These prerequisites can vary slightly between sonography schools in NC. For example, CCCC wants students with a 2.0 cumulative GPA who have completed the ATI TEAS exam. In contrast, Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College requires students to take additional basic anatomy, physiology, and health sciences classes.

What jobs can I get after graduation and how well do they pay?

After you graduate, you can apply for entry-level jobs in hospitals, physician offices, medical laboratories, and outpatient care centers, the largest employers of medical sonographers in 2022. Diagnostic medical sonographers earn a median annual salary of $81,350, with those in outpatient care centers earning as much as $107,970.

North Carolina Licensing & Regulatory Requirements

After attending a sonography program in NC online or on-campus, you will need to get certified as a registered medical sonographer before you can land your first job. You’ll also need to fulfill various criteria such as minimum hours or months of clinical experience, sit specific examinations, and gain CME credits regularly to maintain your certification. Learn more about the regulatory requirements for this career path below:

Clinical Experience

According to the ARDMS, if you want to sit their exams and get registration, you need at least 12 months of full-time clinical ultrasound or vascular experience. This clinical experience applies to all students sitting their first set of exams before graduating from a sonography program, including students in North Carolina. To register, you need a letter from a supervising registered sonographer or physician attesting that you have 12 months of clinical experience, including dates, as well as a completed, signed clinical verification form.

Continuing Education, Renewal & Career Advancement

To maintain your registration as a medical sonographer, you must gain CME credits from a professional organization they recognize. The number of credits you need depends on your specialty. For instance, a diagnostic medical sonographer needs 30 CME credits per year, while a registered musculoskeletal sonographer needs 10 CMEs in musculoskeletal sonography and 20 CMEs in any other specialty area. Sonographers earning these credits from organizations like the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (SDMS) and the American Society of Echocardiography (ASE).

Educational Pathways

Students interested in becoming medical sonographers or ultrasound technologists can get associate and bachelor’s degrees in this field. Most sonography schools in NC offer an associate degree in medical sonography, allowing students to qualify to sit ARDMS exams, gain registration, and practice as general or specialist diagnostic medical sonographers.

Examination & Certification Requirements

According to the ARDMS, aspiring sonographers must take the Sonography Principles and Instrumentation (SPI) examination in addition to a specialty exam to become registered sonographers. Students must take these exams within five years of completing their programs to qualify. Students can take specialty exams on the abdomen, breast, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatric sonography, or fetal echocardiography. To specialize in cardiology, you must take the SPI and the adult, pediatric, or fetal echocardiography exams.

Scope of Practice and Regulations

According to the SDMS, diagnostic medical sonographers do not practice independently—they work under physicians. They use ultrasound to perform abdominal, breast, cardiac, OB/GYN, pediatric, phlebology, and vascular sonography. As a sonographer or ultrasound technician, you must show competency through certification with recognized credentialing organizations, such as the ARDMS. You must also adhere to clinical standards related to patient assessment and communication, diagnostic examination, result evaluation, documentation, quality of care, ethics, self-assessment, collaboration, and maintenance of professional certification, among others.

Job Prospects & Salary Insights for Sonographers in North Carolina

According to the BLS, the overall employment for diagnostic medical sonographers is expected to increase by 14% in the coming years, from 83,800 in 2022 to 95,800 in 2032 — that’s 12,000 new medical sonographer jobs! This data indicates that job prospects for medical sonographers are only getting stronger over the next 10 years.

Diagnostic medical sonographers earn a median salary of $81,350, with the potential to make as much as $107,970. In North Carolina, sonographers earn a median of $75,000, with the potential to earn as much as $100,990, depending on where they live. Review the potential job prospects and salary insights for sonographers in NC in greater detail below.

Note: Sonography students can go on to fulfill a variety of roles, but this is one of the most popular and a great starting point to get an idea of what they can expect to earn. The data below was pulled from Projections Central.

Occupation NameNew Jobs (2020-2030)Average Annual Openings (2020-2030)
Diagnostic Medical Sonographers550240
Area10th PercentileMedian90th Percentile
North Carolina$58,150$75,000$95,110
Asheville, NC$49,330$75,000$100,990
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC$60,500$78,070$97,360
Fayetteville, NC$47,450$61,220$78,260
Greensboro-High Point, NC$59,640$75,000$94,690
Greenville, NC$47,580$60,500$76,730
Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC$47,850$61,030$79,360
Raleigh, NC$53,030$75,380$95,220
Rocky Mount, NC$57,280$61,990$78,870
Wilmington, NC$58,860$61,790$78,670
Winston-Salem, NC$59,910$75,440$95,360