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Radiology

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Career data updated last on 10/8/2014
Diagnostic Medical Sonographer Diagnostic medical sonographers use ultrasound equipment to produce images of the interior structures of the body. Ultrasound technology produces high frequency sound waves (like sonar) that are reflected by internal organs in varying patterns. These are then converted by a computer into a moving picture, or image, which sonographers and other medical personnel are trained to interpret. Physicians use these images in diagnosing medical abnormalities or in viewing the development of a fetus in a pregnant woman.
Salary $38.03 hourly- $79,110
Significant Points Sonographers should experience somewhat better job opportunities than other radiologic technologists, as ultrasound becomes an increasingly attractive alternative to radiologic procedures.
Specializations Diagnostic medical sonographers may specialize in obstetric and gynecologic sonography (the female reproductive system), abdominal sonography (the liver, kidneys, gallbladder, spleen, and pancreas), neurosonography (the brain), or ophthalmologic sonography (the eyes). In addition, sonographers may specialize in vascular technology or echocardiography.
Work Environment Most full-time sonographers work about 40 hours a week. Hospital-based sonographers may have evening and weekend hours and times when they are on call and must be ready to report to work on short notice. Sonographers typically work in healthcare facilities that are clean and well lighted. Some travel to patients in large vans equipped with sophisticated diagnostic equipment. Sonographers are on their feet for long periods and may have to lift or turn disabled patients. They work at diagnostic imaging machines, but also may perform some procedures at patients' bedsides.
High School Prep A high school diploma or equivalent is required; courses in mathematics and science are recommended.
Academic Requirements Sonographers may train in hospitals, vocational-technical institutions, colleges and universities, and the Armed Forces. Some training programs prefer applicants with a background in science or experience in other health professions, but also will consider high school graduates with courses in mathematics and science, as well as applicants with liberal arts backgrounds. The Commission on Accreditation for Allied Health Education Programs accredits most formal training programs. Although no state requires licensure in diagnostic medical sonography, organizations such as the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) certify the competency of sonographers through registration. Because registration provides an independent, objective measure of an individual's professional standing, many employers prefer to hire registered sonographers. Registration with ARDMS requires passing a general physics and instrumentation examination, in addition to passing an exam in a specialty such as obstetric and gynecologic sonography, abdominal sonography, or neurosonography. To keep their registration current, sonographers must complete continuing education to stay abreast of technological advances related to the occupation.

Schools/Organizations

University of Colorado Denver - Anschutz Medical Campus
Certificate Degree Certificate

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