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Career Guide: Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Career Guide: Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Some sonographers work as contract employees and may travel to several health care facilities in an area. Similarly, some sonographers work with mobile imaging service providers and travel to patients and use mobile diagnostic imaging equipment to provide service in areas that otherwise do not have the access to such services.

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.

More on Diagnostic Medical Sonography


Salary: $$40,960 - $$77,520
Min. Education: Associate's, Bachelor's
Related Careers: Cardiovascular Technologist, Radiologic Technologist

Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement

Diagnostic medical sonography is an occupation where there is no preferred level of education and several avenues of education are widely accepted by employers. Although no level of education is preferred, employers do prefer sonographers who trained in accredited programs and who are registered.

Education

There are several avenues for entry into the field of diagnostic medical sonography. 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 care professions. Some also may consider high school graduates with courses in mathematics and science, as well as applicants with liberal arts backgrounds, but this practice is infrequent.

Colleges and universities offer formal training in both 2- and 4-year programs, culminating in an associate or a bachelor’s degree. Two-year programs are most prevalent. Course work includes classes in anatomy, physiology, instrumentation, basic physics, patient care, and medical ethics.

A few 1-year programs that may result in a certificate also are accepted as proper education by employers. These programs typically are satisfactory education for workers already in health care who seek to increase their marketability by training in sonography. These programs are not accredited.

The Commission on Accreditation for Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) accredited 147 training programs in 2006. These programs typically are the formal training programs offered by colleges and universities. Some hospital programs are accredited as well.

Certification and Other Qualifications

Although no State requires licensure in diagnostic medical sonography, organizations such as the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) certify the skills and knowledge of sonographers through credentialing, including registration. Because registration provides an independent, objective measure of an individual’s professional standing, many employers prefer to hire registered sonographers. Sonographers registered by the ARDMS are Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (RDMS). Registration with ARDMS requires passing a general physical principles and instrumentation examination, in addition to passing an exam in a specialty such as obstetric and gynecologic sonography, abdominal sonography, or neurosonography. Sonographers must complete a required number of continuing education hours to maintain registration with the ARDMS and to stay abreast of technological advancements related to the occupation.


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