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Career Guide: Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Career Guide: Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

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

Sonographers need good communication and interpersonal skills because they must be able to explain technical procedures and results to their patients, some of whom may be nervous about the exam or the problems it may reveal. Good hand-eye coordination is particularly important to obtaining quality images. It is also important that sonographers enjoy learning because continuing education is the key to sonographers staying abreast of the ever-changing field of diagnostic medicine. A background in mathematics and science is helpful for sonographers as well.


Sonographers specializing in one particular discipline often seek competency in others. For example, obstetric sonographers might seek training in abdominal sonography to broaden their opportunities and increase their marketability.

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Sonographers may also have advancement opportunities in education, administration, research, sales, or technical advising.


Diagnostic medical sonographers held about 46,000 jobs in 2006. More than half of all sonographer jobs were in public and private hospitals. The rest were typically in offices of physicians, medical and diagnostic laboratories, and mobile imaging services.

Job Outlook

Faster-than-average employment growth is expected. Job opportunities should be favorable.

Employment Outlook

Employment of diagnostic medical sonographers is expected to increase by about 19 percent through 2016—faster than the average for all occupations—as the population ages, increasing the demand for diagnostic imaging and therapeutic technology.

Additional job growth is expected as sonography becomes an increasingly attractive alternative to radiologic procedures, as patients seek safer treatment methods. Unlike most diagnostic imaging methods, sonography does not involve radiation, so harmful side effects and complications from repeated use are less likely for both the patient and the sonographer. Sonographic technology is expected to evolve rapidly and to spawn many new sonography procedures, such as 3D- and 4D-sonography for use in obstetric and ophthalmologic diagnosis. However, high costs and approval by the Federal Government may limit the rate at which some promising new technologies are adopted.

Hospitals will remain the principal employer of diagnostic medical sonographers. However, employment is expected to grow more rapidly in offices of physicians and in medical and diagnostic laboratories, including diagnostic imaging centers. Healthcare facilities such as these are expected to grow very rapidly through 2016 because of the strong shift toward outpatient care, encouraged by third-party payers and made possible by technological advances that permit more procedures to be performed outside the hospital.

Find out more about Diagnostic Medical Sonographer careers!

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