Radiography, sonography, surgical technology, and medical assisting are growing healthcare careers that you can pursue with only 1 to 4 years of training and education. In recent posts, we’ve explored the responsibilities and skills needed in these fields, and today we’re looking closer at the education and certification they require.
Diagnostic Medical Sonography Requirements
Earning an associate degree is the most common path to becoming a diagnostic medical sonographer. However, if you aspire to progress into management, a bachelor’s degree can equip you with additional decision-making, analytical, and leadership skills to help you climb the ranks. Before entering a sonography program, you may need to complete clinical observation hours to get a better understanding of the profession.
According to government reports, most employers prefer to hire sonographers who graduated from programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and who hold professional certification.
“Accreditation speaks to the quality of the program. When a program is accredited, a group of professionals have ensured that you are receiving a quality education and that your program will prepare you to enter the workforce upon graduation,” Asheville Campus President Lisa Satterfield explains. “In certain careers, your program must be accredited for you to pursue the certifications required for employment.”
South College Sonography Programs: After graduating from our CAAHEP-accredited* Associate of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography program, you can apply to take the certification exam through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers. Successfully completing this exam will enable you to practice as a registered sonographer. You may also decide to continue and expand your education in our Bachelor of Science in Health Science with Concentration in Diagnostic Medical Sonography program.
Radiologic Technology Requirements
Radiologic technology careers traditionally require at least an associate degree. To become a registered technologist, you’ll need to graduate from an accredited program and pass a certification exam from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Observation hours may also be required when applying to radiology programs.
Those interested in pursuing leadership roles in radiography or imaging sciences in the future should consider earning a bachelor’s degree in addition to the associate degree. “While our bachelor of science in radiological science program focuses on radiography, we also place a lot of emphasis on management and leadership,” Dr. Satterfield notes.
South College Radiography Programs: Our Associate of Applied Science in Radiologic Technology degree program prepares you to apply to sit for and complete the ARRT certification exam. You may also decide to continue your studies in our Bachelor of Science in Radiological Sciences degree program.
Surgical Technologist Requirements
Surgical technologists may enter the field with a certificate, diploma, or associate degree, with certificate and diploma programs offering the fastest path to completion. To become a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) via the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA), you’ll need to complete a program accredited by CAAHEP or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
South College Surgical Tech Programs: Our Certificate in Surgical Technology program is CAAHEP accredited*, prepares students to sit for national certification, and can be completed in just 1 year.
Medical Assistant Requirements
Most medical assistants have either an associate degree or a certificate or diploma. After pursuing their education, medical assistants can increase their employment opportunities by becoming certified. Some states require medical assistants to graduate from an accredited program, pass an exam, or both.
South College Medical Assisting Programs: Our 9-month, CAAHEP-accredited* Medical Assisting certificate program prepares graduates to sit for the Certified Medical Assistant exam from the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). “We are the only local program where graduates can take the AAMA certification, which is what’s in-demand in the Asheville area,” says Dr. Satterfield.
After completing the Medical Assisting certificate, South College students can choose to continue their education for three more quarters to earn an Associate of Applied Science in Medical Assisting.
What to Expect in Our Healthcare Programs
No matter what your area of focus, all of the healthcare programs at South College include a mix of rigorous classroom instruction and coursework, laboratory training and practice, and off-campus clinical experiences.
“The clinical aspect is what really prepares students for the hands-on work in their chosen fields. They learn it in the classroom and then apply it in the clinical setting. Clinicals are all about the application of the skills learned in class,” says Dr. Satterfield. “The labs also help students learn to apply these skills before they even get to a clinic. Each of our labs has state-of-the-art equipment that matches what is found in a hospital, clinic, or doctor’s office, so that too prepares students to go into the workforce.”
Our blog series explores (with more insight from Dr. Satterfield) the skills required for each of these roles and the diverse career paths you can take upon entering the healthcare field.