A sonographer uses medical equipment to create an image of a patient's internal structures using sound waves. Sonogram technology is a very science-intensive major. In order to enroll, students must have a high school diploma with a strong educational background in math and science. Students learn to use appropriate medical equipment to collect the necessary sonographic images that are required by a doctor, including X-ray machines and CT scanners.
Courses are designed to teach students to communicate with patients, follow diagnostic procedures and document results for physicians. In most cases, a 4-year bachelor's program in diagnostic medical sonography prepares students for professional certification.
Bachelor's Degree in Sonogram Technology
Students who wish to go into medical sonography may begin their training on-the-job or earn a certificate at a vocational school or community college. Some students enter a university right out of high school and complete an associate or bachelor's degree program.
Courses taken during a program in sonogram technology will focus on topics such as anatomy, physics, mathematics, physiology and patient care. Hands-on training is required by most programs and will generally take place in a hospital or clinic setting. Students learn to use appropriate medical equipment to collect the necessary sonographic images that are required by a doctor, including X-ray machine and CT scanners. Some courses may include:
- Patient care
- Sonography introduction
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) employment for diagnostic medical sonographers is expected to increase 26% from 2014 to 2024. This medical field should grow due to the advances in sonographic technology and its benefits over X-rays. There were 61,250 sonographers employed in May of 2015. Most of these were employed in general and surgical medical hospitals, with the remaining working in doctors' offices, laboratories and outpatient care facilities. The median annual salary for a diagnostic medical sonographer in May 2015 was $68,970.
Continuing Education Information
This is no requirement for licensure as a sonographer; however, many hospitals prefer to hire those who are registered. The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) offers this registration, and those sonographers who qualify are called Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (RDMS). The registration process requires the person to pass an examination and complete continuing education to maintain his or her registration status. Sonographers may go on to specialize in certain fields, such as cardiovascular and obstetric sonography. Opportunities for advancement also exist in research and education.
Students who earn a bachelor's degree in sonogram technology will be prepared to enter a job market growing rapidly at 26% over the next decade. The median salary in the field is nearly $70,000, and students can increase their employment prospects by becoming a qualified RDMS.