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Career Q&A: Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

In Demand: Careers in Health Care, Career Voyages, U.S. Dept. of Labor

What will I do?

You will operate special equipment that uses sound waves to produce images that detect a medical problem or monitor a patient’s condition

Ultrasonography during pregnancy is the best-known use of these tests, but sonography is also used to check many other parts of the body.

Sonographers position patients on the exam table to obtain the best view and they often spread a special gel on the skin to help the equipment pick up sound waves. They select what images to show the doctor, they take measurements, and they write a basic report on their findings.

Many sonographers work in hospitals, but it’s also common for them to work in labs or medical centers.

What training do I need?

Many hospitals, vocational-technical schools, and colleges offer training in diagnostic medical sonography. Another training option is the Armed Forces.

High school graduates with math and science skills are good prospects.

How can I get it?

Colleges and universities offer two- and four-year degree programs, but two-year programs are most common. Sonographers who train in a special area, such as pregnancy ultrasound, often train in other areas as well.

States generally don’t require a license for diagnostic medical sonographers, but employers usually hire those who have taken a recognized test that registers them with organizations such as the American Registry for Medical Sonography.

What will I get paid?

Pay for diagnostic medical sonographer careers is comparable to other health occupations requiring a two-year degree. The medium range is about $52,000 annually. The lowest 10% of salaries were less than $37,800 while the highest topped out at more than $72,000.



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