Sonographers operate diagnostic imaging equipment, which uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of the human body. Although it is most commonly associated with pregnancy, sonographic images can be used to evaluate and treat many different medical diagnoses.
In addition to interacting with patients, sonographers must also maintain equipment and keep detailed patient records. Many sonographers specialize in a certain area of medicine, such as obstetrics, neurology or cardiology. While most are employed in hospitals or other large healthcare facilities, some sonographers travel to the patient to perform diagnostic services.
Sonographer candidates with formal education and training in the field are in highest demand. Training is offered through many hospitals, vocational schools and colleges. Sonographers can also receive training through the Armed Forces. Accredited associate and bachelor’s degree programs include coursework in physiology, anatomy, physics, patient care and medical ethics.
In addition to education and training, most employers prefer hiring sonographers who are registered with the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Prior to being registered, sonographers must meet minimum educational and work requirements before they are eligible to take the exam. Even after passing the exam, they must participate in continuing education to maintain their credentials.
Sonographers play an important role in the diagnosis of a medical condition. Before taking the sonogram, sonographers meet with the patient to explain the procedure and gather pertinent medical history. Sonographers also take measurements and analyze data for the physician.
Individuals interested in sonography could gain experience in performing the following tasks:
Sonographers work in clean healthcare facilities, often spending much of their time in dark rooms where they analyze images. When working directly with patients, they may stand for long periods of time.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of sonographers should increase by 18 percent through the year 2018. This increase is largely due to an aging population and increased use of ultrasound imaging over radiologic methods.
According to a May 2008 government report, the median salary for a sonographer was just under $62,000 with salaries ranging from $43,500 to $84,000.