Career Advancement in Sonography

Sonographers use diagnostic imaging equipment to aid physicians in diagnosing medical conditions. They may advance their careers by specializing in echocardiography, working on systems to archive diagnostic images, training future ultrasound techs, or managing imaging professionals.

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Career Growth Opportunities for Sonographers

Sonographers play an important role in the diagnosis and evaluation of a range of medical conditions. They are trained in the use of high-frequency sound waves to create images on a screen, which can then be interpreted by a physician. After working in the field, some sonographers may wish to advance their career. They might specialize in conducting ultrasounds of the heart as an echocardiographer, oversee other sonographers as a diagnostic imaging manager, educate future sonographers as a clinical educator, or organize image databases as a picture archiving and communication systems administrator.

Job Title Median Salary (2018)** Job Growth (2016-2026)* Education or Experience
Echocardiographer $62,027 23% (diagnostic medical sonographers) Echocardiography certification
Picture Archiving and Communication Systems Administrator $72,218 13% (medical records and health information technicians) Certification
Clinical Educator $73,896 26% (postsecondary teachers, health specialties) Master's degree
Diagnostic Imaging Manager $79,953 20% (medical and health services managers) Bachelor's degree and experience

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **PayScale.com

Career Information

Echocardiographer

One avenue by which a sonographer may grow their career is to focus upon a particular sonography specialty. One route you may consider is gaining a certification as an echocardiographer. These professionals focus on performing sonographic evaluations of the heart, heart valves, and blood vessels. They may specialize in care for adult, pediatric, or fetal patients. To qualify as an echocardiographer, the sonographer must pass two exams offered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS).

Picture Archiving and Communication Systems Administrator

Sonographers are familiar with the challenges of properly storing ultrasound images so they can be used in patient care. One career path to address this avenue of their work is that of a picture archive and communication systems administrator. The work of these professionals is a crossover between the fields of information technology and clinical medical care. They focus upon the storage and retrieval of diagnostic healthcare images, ensuring that the databases are properly secured to protect patient privacy, yet are accessible to the appropriate medical personnel.

Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS) Administrators must fully comprehend physician orders for diagnostic images and be able to communicate with a range of medical professionals. To become a radiology systems administrator, the candidate must first ensure knowledge of the technology utilized in diagnostic informatics. They should then seek Certified Picture Archive System Associate certification through the PACS Administrators Registry and Certification Association (PARCA) or Imaging Informatics Professional certification through the American Board of Imaging Informatics (ABII).

Clinical Educator

Some sonographers may wish to advance their career by undertaking a role training future ultrasound technicians. These professionals may consider a role as a clinical educator. Clinical educators instruct students in their particular field of expertise. They should be familiar with adult learning theories and a range of teaching strategies. They plan a series of experiences that will expose the students to the range of functions in the sonography field, and assess their performance on written or practical assessments. Those who wish to become clinical educators should earn a minimum of a master's degree in sonography or in health professions education.

Diagnostic Imaging Manager

Some sonographers may want to further their careers by managing others who are working in the ultrasound field. A role as a diagnostic imaging manager may be considered. These managers are responsible for the daily activities within a radiology department. They ensure that all regulations are followed and that high-quality images are produced by technicians. Diagnostic imaging managers typically will hold a bachelor's degree and have experience in the sonography field.

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