1) Echo sonography
There's sonography and there's echocardiography (and other subspecialties of sonography). Here's a great page on the work and education of sonographers:
and more information about the career from the American Society of Echocardiography:
There are six schools in NC that offer a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (the official name for this field) degree. You should check with each one about the types of support that they give their students (such as small classes, individual attention, extra help for testing, writing, and math, etc.):
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College - Asheville
Caldwell Comm College & Tech Institute - Hudson
Forsyth Technical Community College - Winston-Salem
Johnston Community College - Smithfield
Pitt Community College - Greenville
South Piedmont Community College - Polkton
2) An Occupational Therapist must have at least a bachelor's degree (until 2007, when a master's degree will be required):
But you can be an Occupational Therapy Assistant with an associates degree.:
There are four schools in NC that offer that degree:
Cabarrus College of Health Sciences
Cape Fear Community College
Durham Technical Community College
Pitt Community College
3) The differences and similarities between the two (and why one may be better for you).
a) Occupational therapists (and assistants and aides) work hands-on with clients - it's a physical job that requires a reasonable amount of strength, flexibility, dexterity, endurance, balance, etc. Sonography is a job you can often do sitting down.
b) They're both helping professions of course, but in occupational therapy you often work with a client one-on-one and for longer term and so get to know them and their situation. A sonographer may not even actually talk to the person for whom they have done the diagnostic test and even when they do, it is often a one-time thing.
c) Both fields require certification. This is one way of being able to tell the quality of the education you're getting - find out how many of their students pass the certification exams.
d) Go to the links above and look at the classes you have to take to compare which you think would be harder based on your skills (are math skills your strong suit? lab skills? Etc.)
Bottom line: the best way to find out what the right program and school is for you is to interview them directly and press them for as much information as possible. Tell them you have a hard time in school and find out what they’ll do for you. Ask them if they have a list of former students who are working as sonographers or occupational therapists that you can talk to, then interview them about their school and work experience.
You can get more information about these two fields (and look for more ways to get specific information from these two professional associations:
Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography
The American Occupational Therapy Association