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Ultrasound Technician Certification

Ultrasound Technicians who wish to improve their employability and earnings potential  can pursue voluntary certification in their field of medical sonography. Certification is simply a “stamp of approval” from a credible sonography organization. Having documented proof of one’s expertise helps ultrasound technicians stand out to employers, allows them to advance faster and lets them earn higher salaries than uncertified sonographers.

The most well-known organization responsible for the certification and registration of diagnostic medical sonographers is the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). The ARDMS certifies ultrasound technicians through the SPI (Sonography Principles and Instrumentation) Examination, plus a specialty exam corresponding to the sonographer’s area of expertise.

ARDMS Ultrasound Certifications

The designations offered by the ARDMS are:

  • Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS)
  • Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS)
  • Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT)

Each of the credentials above involves passing the SPI Exam. This exam is 2 hours long and contains 120 multiple-choice questions covering basic ultrasound principles and instrumentation knowledge.

The ARDMS also offers the credential of Registered Physician in Vascular Interpretation (RPVI), for physicians specializing in vascular diagnosis. This credential involves passing a different exam.

RDMS Certification

This is a general medical sonography certification, and is available in 5 areas of specialty:

  • Abdomen
  • Breast
  • Fetal Echocardiography
  • Neurosonology
  • Obstetrics & Gynecology

To gain one of the RDMS credentials, a sonographer needs to pass both the SPI Exam and a separate exam corresponding to the specialty in question. The specialty exams are three hours long and contain 150-170 multiple-choice questions based on specialty knowledge for that area of sonography.

RDCS Certification

The RDCS certification is available in 3 areas:

  • Adult Echocardiography
  • Fetal Echocardiography
  • Pediatric Echocardiography

Like the RDMS designation, the RDCS requires passing the SPI as well as a specialty exam in the sonographer’s area of expertise. Specialty exams are 3 hours long, containing 150 multiple-choice questions.

RVT Certification

This certification is only available in the specialty of Vascular Technology, and involves passing the SPI as well as a separate test focused on vascular sonography skills and knowledge. The vascular technology specialty exam is three hours long, containing 170 multiple-choice questions.

ARDMS Certification Eligibility

To be eligible for ARDMS certification, ultrasound techs must meet the organization’s education and experience requirements. These requirements fall under 5 prerequisite categories involving various combinations of education, work experience and documentation. The prerequisite categories are as follows:

Prerequisite 1

  • Education: A 2-year Allied healthcare degree in an area od patient care
  • Experience: 12 months of full-time ultrasound experience
  • Documentation: Transcripts, school credential, letter of proof of experience, appropriate forms

Prerequisite 2

  • Education: Graduation from an ultrasound program accredited by an agency recognized by CHEA, USDOE or CMA
  • Experience: No additional experience required
  • Documentation: Transcript of diploma, letter of proof of graduation

Prerequisite 3A

  • Education: Bachelor’s degree in any field
  • Experience: 12 months of full-time ultrasound experience
  • Documentation: Transcript or diploma, letter of proof of experience, appropriate forms

Prerequisite 3B

  • Education: Bachelor’s degree in Medical Sonography
  • Experience: No additional experience required
  • Documentation: Transcript or diploma, letter of proof of experience, appropriate forms

Prerequisite 4A1

  • Education: MD or MO degree and Ultrasound residency or fellowship
  • Experience: At least 800 documented studies required
  • Documentation: Diploma, letter of proof of completion of 800 studies, student log of the studies, appropriate forms

Prerequisite 4A2

  • Education: MD or MO degree
  • Experience: 12 months of full-time ultrasound experience
  • Documentation: Diploma, letter of proof of experience, appropriate forms

Prerequisite 4B1 (Outside US)

  • Education: MD or MO degree and Ultrasound residency or fellowship
  • Experience: At least 800 documented studies required
  • Documentation: Letter stating equivalency of foreign degree to US MD or MO, letter of proof of completion of 800 studies, student log of the studies, appropriate forms

Prerequisite 4B2 (Outside US)

  • Education: MD or MO degree and Ultrasound residency or fellowship
  • Experience: 12 months of full-time ultrasound experience
  • Documentation: Letter stating equivalency of foreign degree to US MD or MO, letter of proof of experience, appropriate forms

Prerequisite 5

  • Education: Active certification form a similar certifying agency
  • Experience: No additional experience required
  • Documentation: Copy of certification or license, appropriate forms

ARDMS Certification Costs

Each ARDMS exam for the RDMS, RDCS and RVT credentials is $200, and includes a non-refundable $100 processing fee. The fee is charged at the time the exam is scheduled.