Diagnostic medical sonographers are healthcare professionals who use special equipment to generate sonographic images, also known as ultrasounds, for medical purposes. These specialists often photograph, record or transmit sonograms — the reflected images produced when high frequency sound waves are directed into select areas of a patient’s body.
Sonographers maintain sonography equipment and work closely with patients throughout the procedure. In addition to administering sonograms, these professionals also work with physicians to select the best images for diagnostic purposes. Sonographers may work in hospitals, private care clinics and other facilities, and specialize in several areas such as:
Diagnostic medical sonographers may work full-time for one employer or part-time for multiple healthcare providers. These professionals should have expert knowledge of the equipment, procedures and diagnostic practices associated with medical sonography.
Diagnostic medical sonographers with on-the-job training may be eligible for certain entry-level positions. Many employers prefer personnel with advanced degrees and extensive training in diagnostic medical sonography. Professionals seeking high profile opportunities may benefit from an associate or bachelor’s degree in diagnostic medical sonography from an accredited online or on-site institution.
Although licensing isn’t typically required at the state level, some employers may seek sonographers with credentials from professional organizations such as The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). Depending on their area of specialty, some sonographers may also benefit from continuing education programs or specialized training.
The salary for a diagnostic medical sonographer may vary often depending on his or her specific work setting, location and area of expertise. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the median annual wage for a diagnostic medical sonographer was $64,380 in May 2010. Professionals on the lowest end of the pay scale earned an average of $44,900 annually while those on the highest end averaged $88,490 per year for this same period.
The job outlook is considered very favorable for diagnostic medical sonographers, with 18 percent growth expected through 2018. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects this strong growth due to the projected increase in the use of sonograph technology among healthcare providers.