How to become a sonographer in the UK?

In the UK there are several different routes into sonography. Historically, most sonographers have come from a radiography or other healthcare professional background (such as physiotherapy or midwifery). In order to progress into ultrasound, applicants would need to possess a relevant undergraduate degree, graduating with a at least a 2:2 (honours), and have an appropriate clinical placement.  Generally speaking, these post graduate courses would involve undertaking a postgraduate certificate (PgC), postgraduate diploma (PgDip) or Masters Degree (MSc) in Medical Ultrasound which normally takes 1-2 years and involved at least 2-3 days per week on clinical placement. These courses should be accredited by the Consortium for the Accreditation of Sonographic Education (CASE) 

More recently, other avenues have opened up into ultrasound training and qualifications. Partially, in response to growing shortage of qualified sonographers, but also to reflect the changing times we live in where ultrasound is becoming increasingly utilised in a range of different settings.

Direct Entry (Postgraduate)

In the last few years several courses have begun offering direct entry ultrasound training. These are postgraduate and highly competitive and are full-time over the course of two years. Currently, the university of Cumbria and the University of Derby offer such courses but this is likely to change in the coming years. The main benefit of these courses is that clinical placements put in place as part of the course and that entrants to do not necessarily have to be from a health professional background.

More information on the University of Cumbria ultrasound course can be found by clicking here.

More information on the University of Derby ultrasound course can be found by clicking here.

Undergraduate Entry

A new programme by Birmingham City University offers a three year undergraduate programme which leads to a BSc (Hons) Medical Ultrasound with the main benefit being that clinical placements are agreed and managed by the university itself. In addition, normal undergraduate student loans are available where appropriate. More information on the Birmingham City University course can be found by clicking here.

Vascular Scientist

Vascular Scientists are regulated by the Society for Vascular Technology of Great Britain and Ireland (SVTGBI).  Routes into becoming a vascular scientist are typically advertised as a training post and come with full employment and salary throughout the training period. Therefore, applicants would not normally apply direct to a university but would look for trainee posts on the NHS website or  Society for Vascular Technology website.  Trainees will normally undertake full training through the employer/training mentor while completing a range of written and practical exams stipulated by the SVT over a minimum of three years. Trainees may also complete post graduate ultrasound study, although currently this is not a prerequisite to completion of training. More information of the SVTGBI can be found by clicking here.

STP and ACHS

Some specialisms within the Scientific Training Programme (STP) or Academy for Healthcare Sciences (ACHS) fall under the remit of ultrasound. Like Vascular Scientists, STP and ACHS trainees will usually be employed by an NHS Trust for the duration of their training.  Entrants will normally complete an MSc in Clinical Science which integrates work-based learning and training with part-time academic study that will cover a range of different areas around your chosen specialism, usually vascular ultrasound or echocardiography.