Diagnostic medical sonographers use sound waves to generate images used for assessing and diagnosing various medical conditions.
Many people associate sonography with pregnancy. It’s how a fetus can be seen in the womb. But this technology has many other applications in the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions in the abdomen, breast, heart and blood vessels and, more recently, in diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal problems. Diagnostic medical sonography is an imaging modality that can work in conjunction with other imaging modalities such as x-ray, MRI, CAT scans and nuclear medicine studies.
Most full-time sonographers work about 37 hours a week; they may have evening and weekend hours and times when they are on call and must be ready to report to work on short notice.
Salary Range and Outlook
Diagnostic medical sonographers earn a median salary of $64,380 per year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor in 2010.
There are several avenues for entry into the field of diagnostic medical sonography. Sonographers may train in hospitals, vocational-technical institutions, colleges and universities or the military. While some educational programs prefer applicants with a background in science or experience in other health professions, others will consider high school graduates with courses in math and science as well as applicants with liberal arts backgrounds.
Colleges and universities offer both two- and four-year programs, culminating in an associate or bachelor’s degree. Two-year programs are most prevalent. Look for a program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
For information on how to become a registered diagnostic medical sonographer, see the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography.
Learn More About a Career as a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
- Watch the video profile, “Diagnostic Medical Sonographers,” (which is located in the Health Science category).
- Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography
- American Society of Echocardiography
- Society for Vascular Ultrasound
- American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography