Sonography, or ultrasonography, is a branch of diagnostic imaging that is used to diagnose medical conditions. Sonography uses sound waves to generate images for the assessment and diagnosis of medical conditions. Many people associate this technology with obstetrics,X-Ray, or medical assisting, but there are many other applications for sonography.
Additionally, while hospitals remain the principal employer of diagnostic medical sonographers, employments is expected to grow more rapidly in clinics, physicians’ offices and in laboratories and diagnostic imaging centers. If you need more reasons to consider a career as an ultrasound technicians, the following list provides seventeen excellent reasons:
1. Hands-on technology: Sonographers learn how to operate, adjust and maintain the equipment. Even if you feel you aren’t technically inclined, you may soon learn that employers seek this skill. Learning how to maintain sonography equipment will empower you in your job search.
2. Patient Interaction: For those who want to work with patients, but who do not want to become doctors or nurses, this job provides plenty of interaction. Sonographers usually explain the sonographic procedure to patients and direct patients in how to move to obtain the best images.
3. Staff and Medical Personnel Interaction: You may interact with physicians and nurses as well as with other staff as you diagnose a patient with your equipment. Physicians may consult you as to what you see in your images.
4. Medical Records: Your account of patient activity, appearance and other relevant information, including information about the actual sonograph, goes into patient records to edify the doctors and nurses who care for that patient. This activity can prepare you for job advancement.
5. Personal Best: Your images, produced as photographs, videotape or transmitted for review and diagnosis by a physician, are representations of your skill. You often get to choose the best images for the physician to review, and you must know what you’re looking for to get that “personal best” image.
6. Variety of Jobs: Ultrasound techs may specialize in obstetric and gynecologic sonography or branch out into abdominal sonography, cardiovascular sonography, mammography or ophthalmic sonography. To branch out into these fields, all you need is further education and certification (see below).
7. Variety of Skills: Sonographers also may prepare work schedules, evaluate equipment purchases or manage a diagnostic imaging department. This type of work signals a managerial position and a move up the career ladder.
8. Not Stuck Behind a Desk: Ultrasound technicians constantly are on the go, which requires stamina. You may need to help patients move or you may need to move equipment. You may be on your feet a lot, which some people see as a good thing.
9. Short Training Period: Ultrasound technicians need at least a high school diploma, but most employers prefer applicants who have formal education. Ultrasound technicians usually complete training programs at vocational and technical schools, community colleges, universities, hospitals, and the military. Training or earning an associate’s degree often takes two to four years, depending upon your career goals.
10. Training on the Job: As sonographic techniques change, so must your knowledge about these diagnostic tools. You or your employer may suggest further training through seminars, classes or on the job at another facility. Take advantage of these learning opportunities, as they will help keep you on top of your game. In addition, you have plenty of support from other ultrasound technicians through groups such as the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (SDMS).
11. Good Beginning Salaries: Ultrasound technicians with less than 1 year experience earned an average salary of $39,000 in January 2010, while lead ultrasound technicians can earn up to $60,000 per year. Your salary will vary, depending upon your skill levels, your position, your specialties, where you work, your work environment, and the number of years you have on the job.
12. No License Required: No state requires licensure of diagnostic medical sonographers, but some are beginning to do so (Ohio may achieve this goal in 2010). Additionally, many employers may not hire you if you have not achieved certification in your specialty. Some organizations such as the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) certify the competency of ultrasound technicians. To keep your registration current, you must complete continuing education to stay abreast of advances in this field.
13. Live in the City: If you like living in the city, then you’ll be in heaven, because rural jobs for ultrasound technicians are rare. Almost seventy-five percent of ultrasound technicians work in urban areas.
14. Good Job Growth Potential: The need for sonographers is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations over most of the next decade. This job growth is being driven by the aging of the population, the increasing demand for diagnostic imaging, and the desire of patients to use alternatives to radiological procedures.
15. No Limitations: No matter your gender, race or ethnic background, you are welcome into this field. You are not limited by lack of growth, lack of available fields to work in nor by skill level. You can start with a minimal education and certification and work your way up with continuing education and on-the-job training.
16. You Improve Other Peoples’ Lives: Sonography is fast becoming the ‘go-to’ method for diagnostic imaging. It is safer, accurate and helps to diagnose medical problems that the doctor cannot see without surgery. Your job may help to eliminate unnecessary surgery or help facilitate more accurate surgery, thereby helping people live healthier and more productive lives.
17. Job Safety: Since you’re working with sound waves, this type of diagnostic imaging is much safer than radiographic technology or X-rays. That said, work-related injuries include one reason why some sonographers leave this career. A focus on ergonomic issues and preventative health will keep you as safe here as in any other job, especially since your odds of working in a sanitary environment are high.
As a nationally registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, I take issue with so many points in this article. First of all, while there are some sonographers who learned on the job many years ago, most of us have at least a 2 year degree. Mine is 3 years. And there are also Bachelors degrees as well as pot-graduate degrees. Also, there a national registry for sonographers which most employers require after a year, if it’s not obtained at time of hire, because insurance companies require registered techs in labs for reimbursement. In order to obtain a registry, it is required to sit for two exams; the first is the Sonography Principles and Instrumentation exam, dedicated to the physics of sound. It’s a 3 hour exam. Everyone must pass this to move on. The second exam is based on your specialty and is another 3 hour exam.
The money is good in this field. But it is hard work. You earn every penny of it. And you put up with a lot of garbage.
This article does a great disservice to our professionals. It doesn’t paint an accurate picture of how hard we have worked to get our jobs and it doesn’t really paint an accurate picture of what we do.
I’m not sure if this author actually spoke to any registered sonographers, but I’d suggest next time he does.
Oh, and for the record, I work in a hospital in rural Washington.