Sonogram technicians operate special equipment to create images and perform medical tests, such as the ultrasounds to monitor the development of a fetus. Sonogram technicians are required to have an associate's or bachelor's degree and be certified to work as a sonogram technician. Job growth is predicted to be much faster than average for this field through 2024.
Sonogram technicians, or sonographers, use ultrasonic imaging tools to produce scans used in the detection and diagnoses of abnormalities and diseases. A career in sonography entails strong communication skills, as well as technical expertise and basic medical training.
|Required Education||Associate's or bachelor's degree in sonography (certificate programs available for those with healthcare experience)|
|Other Requirements||ARDMS Certification|
|Projected Job Growth* (2014-2024)||26%|
|Median Salary* (2015)||$68,970|
*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Career Profile of a Sonogram Technician
Sonogram technicians are trained to operate ultrasound equipment, which uses sound waves to form images of internal organs and body masses. During the imaging process, sonogram technicians discuss the procedure with patients and direct them into proper positions. After images are taken, sonogram technicians review the results and choose the best images to present to doctors. Doctors then use these images to make diagnoses and develop treatment plans for patients.
In addition to the technical aspects of diagnostic imaging, sonogram technicians often complete clerical tasks. They collect patient information and maintain files, such as patient histories and sonography results. They might also maintain sonography equipment inventory. Some technicians supervise other diagnostic staff members and may be responsible for writing work schedules and other administrative tasks. Sonography technicians may choose to specialize in one aspect of the discipline, like obstetric and gynecologic sonography, neurosonography or vascular sonography.
Sonogram technicians typically learn the skills needed for this career through formal education or on-the-job training. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employers tend to prefer sonogram technicians who have graduated from accredited postsecondary programs or completed training in accredited healthcare programs (www.bls.gov). Formal education programs are typically available through colleges, universities and vocational schools, while on-the-job training can be obtained through healthcare facilities or the military.
Aspiring sonogram technicians may choose to earn certificates, associate's degrees or bachelor's degrees in sonography. Certificate programs are typically intended for students who are already experienced in healthcare and seeking additional skills. Associate's degree programs are the most commonly pursued degrees among sonogram technicians. These programs typically include classroom, laboratory and clinical instruction focused on ultrasound physics, imaging techniques, physiology and healthcare ethics. Students are usually required to gain hands-on training through clinical practicums.
Sonogram technicians may choose to demonstrate professional skills and improve employment chances by becoming certified. The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography offers the Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer credential to qualified technicians. This credential is available in the specialties of obstetrics and gynecology, abdominal, breast and vascular sonography, fetal echocardiography and neurosonology. To become certified, candidates must pass a written exam in sonography principles and instrumentation followed by a specialty exam.
Career Outlook and Salary Information
The BLS does not present information on sonogram technicians, but it does provide statistics on diagnostic medical sonographers. In the 2014-2024 decade, the BLS predicts a 26% job growth for diagnostic medical sonographers. These professionals earned $68,970 as a median annual salary in 2015, according to the BLS.
The job growth projections for sonogram technicians is expected to be strong through 2024, which means that qualified applicants should have many options when entering this career field. Completing an associate's or bachelor's degree is required, and sonogram technicians must also be certified by ARDMS by passing a written exam. ARDMS offers a general certification as well as certifications in specialty areas such as gynecology or abdominal sonography.