How To Become a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer Career
Median Salary $64,380/year or $30.95/hour
Education Requirements Associate’s degree
Professionals Employed 53,700
10 Years Job Outlook 44%
10 Years Job Growth 23,400

Many people, especially women who have had children, are familiar with obstetric and gynecologic sonographers as those who perform the ultrasounds that made sure that their babies were developing normally while they were pregnant. However, there are medical sonographers that diagnose medical problems in other parts of the body such as the breast, the abdomen and the musculoskeletal system.

What is a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer?

Using specialized machines that create images by directing sound waves into a patient’s body, diagnostic medical sonographers can check for various medical conditions. They have to know the difference between normal images and images that indicate a need for further testing.

Sonographers have to be good at paying attention to details. Much of the job involves recognizing the difference between a normal image and an abnormal one. Medical sonographers work with special machinery, which means that having good hand-eye coordination is important.

As members of a medical team, sonographers must have good interpersonal skills. They work closely with doctors, as well as with patients, to ensure that they are able to obtain a proper diagnosis of whatever problem a patient might have. Communication skills are important as well because they have to be able to speak with other medical staff as well as with patients in a way that is clear and concise.

In addition to other skills and qualities a sonographer should have, he or she needs to have a lot of stamina. The job of a sonographer is physical and involves standing most of the day, as well as some lifting.

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer Salary

Although the average sonographer can expect to earn $64,380 a year, this number will vary based on the location he or she works at. Diagnostic sonographers who work at outpatient centers tend to make the most money. Also, sonographers make more in some states than in others. The highest paid sonographers make about $88,490 while the lowest paid earn about $44,900. With experience and education, those sonographers on the lower end of the pay scale can often expect to start earning more than they start out making.

How to Become a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

If you are interested in becoming a diagnostic medical sonographer, most employers require you to have at least an associate’s degree. Colleges offer bachelor’s and associate’s programs. There are also certificate programs available, but you need to be either working in the field or have some education in the field to qualify for these programs.

Once you graduate from a program, you can take a test to become certified. Some employers require certification and licensure before hiring sonographers.

High school students who wish to become diagnostic medical sonographers should take on anatomy, advanced math, and physiology.

Occupational Outlook and Job Opportunities

With an expected growth of 44 percent between 2010 and 2020, diagnostic medical sonographers can expect to find many opportunities for employment. As with many other careers in the medical field, the increase in demand for sonographers is partially due to the growing aging population.  They will need to have medical conditions like blood clots and tumors properly diagnosed.

Most sonographers work in hospitals. Doctor’s offices and medical laboratories offer other opportunities for sonographers to find work.