Diagnostic Medical Sonography

Train to Work as an Ultrasound Technician

SJVC’s Diagnostic Medical Sonography program in Bakersfield prepares students to work as an entry-level general sonographer. Students learn how to perform ultrasound scanning examinations and record the data for interpretation by a physician. Graduates are prepared to provide effective oral and written communication to the healthcare team as it pertains to diagnostic results.

What Does an Ultrasound Technician Do?

Ultrasound Techs use special imaging equipment to create images of internal organs. On the job, sonographers and ultrasound technicians can expect to:

  • Prepare patients for procedures by taking a patient’s history and answering any questions about the procedure
  • Prepare and maintain imaging equipment
  • Operate equipment to get diagnostic images of areas in the patient’s body
  • Analyze images to provide preliminary findings for physicians
  • Record findings and keep track of patients’ records

Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program Details

Skills Students Learn

Our Diagnostic Medical Sonography students learn:

  • Fundamentals and professional aspects of sonography
  • Principles and instrumentation of ultrasound
  • Abdominal ultrasound imaging
  • Obstetrics, gynecology and vascular imaging

Program Course Examples

Courses* taken by our Diagnostic Medical Sonography students include:

Orientation to Ultrasound Imaging Seminar
This instructional seminar is a prerequisite to the DMS program. This seminar provides an overview of the scope and content of the DMS program. It focuses upon the elementary operational principles of diagnostic medical ultrasound, basic ultrasound terminology specific to the profession, anatomic imaging planes and body directions used in ultrasound imaging, and the image orientation on the ultrasound display. A grade of “C” or better is required to earn credit for this course.

Abdominal and Small Parts Ultrasound Imaging
This course covers the aspects of abdominal and small parts ultrasound scanning required for employment as an entry-level sonographer. Emphasis is placed upon basic anatomy and physiology, normal and abnormal appearances of the organs of the abdominal cavity, retroperitoneum, breast, thyroid, parathyroid, prostate, and testes. The student will develop competency in assessing the ultrasonic appearance of normal versus abnormal images through the use of PowerPoint slides and studies. Clinical indications for ultrasound examination of the abdomen and small parts, and differential diagnoses will also be presented and considered. A grade of “C” or better is required to earn credit for this course.

Obstetrics and Gynecology Ultrasound Imaging
This course is an in-depth study of the normal and abnormal conditions that affect the reproductive organs of the female pelvic cavity and the developing fetus, including cross-sectional anatomy, physiology, pathology, and pathophysiology. Emphasis is placed upon ultrasonic identification and assessment of the normal and pathological conditions of the uterus, ovaries and fetus. The sonographer’s role in determining fetal biometry measurements, age, weight, and well-being is covered. Clinical indications and differential diagnoses for OB/GYN ultrasound examinations are also discussed. A grade of “C” or better is required to earn credit for this course.

*Course listings are subject to change. Reference the SJVC College Catalog for the  most current program information.

Program Outcomes

How to Become an Ultrasound Technician in California

Our Diagnostic Medical Sonography (DMS) students can earn an associate of science degree in approximately 17 months.

The law does not require that a diagnostic medical sonographer be licensed or ARDMS certified in order to work as a sonographer, but some employers do require that potential employees be ARDMS certified, or eligible to sit for the ARDMS certifying examination within one year after hire.

Graduates of the SJVC DMS program who hold a B.S. or B.A. degree or higher will be eligible to sit for the ARDMS certifying examination immediately upon completion of the program.

Graduates who have prior education in a two year allied health care field (single subject) that is patient-care related will be eligible to sit for the ARDMS certifying examination immediately upon
completion of the program. A two-year allied health education program is defined as (1) 24 consecutive calendar months OR (2) 60 semester credits OR (3) 84 quarter credits. Examples of such allied health occupations include, but are not limited to radiologic technologist (RT), registered
nurse (RN), respiratory therapist or occupational therapist.

Graduates who hold an active certification with Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI), or American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), or Australian Society of Ultrasound in Medicine (ASUM), will be eligible to sit for the ARDMS certifying examination immediately upon completion of the program.

Graduates who do not have these prior educational prerequisites must work for one year (1680 hours) as a diagnostic medical sonographer before they are eligible to sit for the ARDMS examination.

To obtain more information about the ARDMS certification examination, contact The American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, 51 Monroe Street, Plaza East One, Rockville,
MD 20850. Visit their website at www.ardms.org.

The SJVC DMS Program is designed as a general concentration in the performance of diagnostic medical ultrasound. When you graduate from this program, the education received will prepare you to sit for the Abdominal and Small Parts and/or the OB/GYN RDMS specialty examinations.

The program is not designed as a complete preparation to sit for the Registered Vascular Technologist certifying examination upon graduation. The Vascular course is intended as an
introduction to vascular ultrasound imaging. At least six months of additional training is required prior to sitting for the RVT credential.

The time frame, in regard to your eligibility to sit for the ARDMS examination, is based upon your prior educational background.

Program Availability

SJVC’s Diagnostic Medical Sonography program is available at the Bakersfield campus.

Career Opportunities

Employers are looking for graduates who are prepared to work as an Ultrasound Technician or entry-level Sonographer in a variety of settings such as hospitals, radiology imaging centers or clinics. Other career opportunities include working for a registry service or equipment manufacturer.

Admission Requirements and Prerequisites

How long is Ultrasound Tech school?

Diagnostic Medical Sonography is a 17-month program consisting of three 24-week terms (including summers). Classes meet Monday through Friday and vary based on clinical schedules. Working is discouraged while enrolled in the program, as no special concessions are made for working students.

Admission Requirements
Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and have completed the necessary prerequisite courses. Prerequisites must be completed at an institution accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and students must have a GPA of 2.0 or higher.

Prerequisite Courses:

  • Reading & Composition
  • Intermediate Algebra or higher
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Medical Terminology

Applicants must also meet the technical standards (physical requirements) to be considered for the program. Technical standards provide a reference against which candidates for enrollment are evaluated by the Admissions Committee.

Physical Requirements for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers

The following is a list of physical requirements related to the job duties of an ultrasound technologist.

  1. Possess visual skills necessary to adequately differentiate between subtle shades of gray, and color distinctions.
  2. Possess auditory skills necessary to distinguish audible sounds of a Doppler signal, communicate with patients, and communicate with other health care professionals.
  3. Possess sufficient oral and written skills in English to communicate with patients and other health care professionals.
  4. Stand, walk, and sit for up to 30 minutes at a time.
  5. Stand and walk for up to 8 hours during an 8-hour shift.
  6. Lift or move a maximum of a 290-pound patient in a 2 person or 3 person transfer.
  7. Move loads of up to 50 pounds up to 25 times per hour.
  8. Push a patient confined to a wheelchair or gurney up to 300 feet or more, depending upon the structural design of the medical facility.
  9. Bend, crouch, or stoop up to 20 times per hour.
  10. Reach forward up to 18 inches while holding an object weighing 15 pounds.
  11. Push ultrasound equipment on wheels weighing up to 300 pounds or more.
  12. Possess manual dexterity to manipulate and operate all diagnostic medical sonography equipment.

Application Process

The Diagnostic Medical Sonography program has a highly-selective application process in which only the most qualified candidates are chosen to fill available seats per cohort start.

Admission is determined based on a point scale of the following:

  • Wonderlic BST assessments, to be administered during the application process
  • Postsecondary education (attainment, GPA)
  • Healthcare work experience
  • Application panel interview

Download applicant information.
*Official transcripts of all completed prerequisite courses must be sent to SJVC with the application prior to the deadline.

Foreign Institutions & Transfer of Credit
Applicants who have completed coursework outside of the United States must have their transcripts evaluated by the International Education Research Foundation, Inc. (IERF) or equivalent organization. An official copy of the Academic Detailed Report from IERF or an equivalent organization must be included with the application. All applicants must include course descriptions of prerequisite coursework in the application packet.

For additional information regarding the application process, please contact the DMS Admissions Advisor at (866) 544-7898 or email admissions.dms@sjvc.edu.

Accreditation and Approvals

Institutional Accreditation

San Joaquin Valley College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges, 10 Commercial Blvd., Suite 204, Novato, CA 94949, (415) 506-0234, an institutional accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education. Additional information about accreditation, including the filing of complaints against member institutions, can be found at www.accjc.org.

Questions or requests to review documents pertaining to accreditation should be directed to:

Crystal G. VanderTuig, Accreditation Liaison Officer
San Joaquin Valley College
3828 West Caldwell Avenue, Visalia, CA 93277
(559) 734-9000

State Approvals

SJVC is a private institution and is approved to operate as an accredited institution by the California Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE). Approval to operate means that SJVC has been found in compliance with the standards set forth in the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009 (as amended) and Title 5, Division 7.5, – Private Postsecondary Education of the California Code of Regulations. As a prospective student, you are encouraged to review this catalog prior to signing an enrollment agreement. You are also encouraged to review the School Performance Fact Sheet, which must be provided to you prior to signing an enrollment agreement.

A student or any member of the public may file a complaint about this institution with the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education by calling (888) 370-7589 or by completing a complaint form, which can be obtained on the Bureau’s internet website (www.bppe.ca.gov).

View additional State Approvals for SJVC.