Ultrasound Radiology Careers: Job Option and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed for a career in ultrasound radiology. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about job duties, specializations and salary to find out if this is the career for you.

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As advances are made with ultrasound technology, the demand for qualified diagnostic medical sonographers has increased. Diagnostic medical sonographers use ultrasound radiology to generate images of organs inside a patient's body. This technology eliminates the need to admit patients to the hospital for tests because it's noninvasive, which is part of the reason qualified diagnostic medical sonographers are experiencing strong job growth within their career field.

Essential Information

Ultrasound radiology, or sonography, uses sound waves to create images of the internal organ systems in the body. Sonographers can have a job in general sonography or they may specialize in a particular area of medical diagnostics.

Required Education Associate's degree
Other Requirements Professional certification may be required or preferred by employers
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 19% for all diagnostic medical sonographers
Median Salary (2018)* $72,510 for all diagnostic medical sonographers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Ultrasonography Career Options

Ultrasound radiology (sonography) is the use of sound waves to create a medical diagnostic image. There are many specialized areas in the medical industry, lending to a variety of career options in ultrasonography. Although it is possible to be a general sonographer, there are specialized areas of medicine requiring specific types of sonographers.

Obstetric and Gynecologic Sonographers

The word sonogram is most commonly associated with the field of obstetric and gynecologic sonography and the ability to view an unborn child. Ultrasounds also allow the gynecologists and obstetricians to diagnose other potential reproductive problems in the female body.

Neurosonographers

Focusing specifically on the nervous system, a neurosongrapher has an intimate understanding of this system and its function. The work of neurosonographers helps to identify tumors and further academic study of the brain.

Cardiac Sonographers

In order to monitor the function of the heart, cardiac sonography is an important tool for cardiologists when making a precise diagnosis. Ultrasounds of a heart produce images of the chambers and valves, which can determine a patient's treatment options and the necessity for heart surgery.

Abdominal Sonographers

The vital organs located in the abdomen can cause patients strange symptoms and immense pain, making sonography in this region of the body crucial to patient care. Abdominal ultrasound radiologists are highly trained to ensure that the images collected aide in diagnosing problems, such as those in the kidneys, gallbladder or male reproductive system.

Education and Certification

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), sonographers may obtain training in a number of ways, but most complete a two-year training program for an associate's degree. Educational programs verified by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) are the best choice for someone in search of a program in ultrasonography.

Certification as a sonographer is voluntary. Professional organizations, such as the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS), provide sonographers with all types of certification options. Gaining a certification requires passing an examination and increases employment opportunities. The designation also makes job candidates more competitive in the medical diagnostics imaging field.

Salary and Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicated that diagnostic medical sonographers made a median salary of $72,510 per year in 2018. The BLS projects a 19% employment increase for sonographers between 2018 and 2028, a rate far higher than the average for all professions. Emerging ultrasound technology and a preference for outpatient care and noninvasive procedures are noted as causes for this anticipated growth trend.

A career in ultrasound radiology as a diagnostic medical sonographer involves using ultrasound technology to generate images of organs inside a patient's body for diagnostic purposes. Some diagnostic medical sonographers specialize in a specific field of medicine, such as monitoring heart functions, or monitoring the development of a fetus and assessing the female reproductive system. Diagnostic medical sonographers typically complete an associate's degree; voluntary certification is an option, but may increase job prospects for those entering this field.

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