How Can I Become a Sonogram Technician?

Explore the career requirements for sonogram technicians. Get the facts about education and licensure requirements, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Diagnostic Medical Sonography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Sonogram Technician?

Sonogram technicians, also known as diagnostic medical sonographers, operate equipment that uses high-frequency sound waves to create sonograms, which are images of internal body structures. Afterward, they write up analytical reports to go along with the images. Their findings are then used by doctors to diagnose and develop treatment plans for illnesses, injuries and disorders. Some sonogram technicians specialize in a particular area of the field, such as pediatric sonography, obstetric/gynecologic sonography or abdominal sonography.

The following chart provides information about this career.

Degree Required Certificate, associate's or bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Sonography, cardiovascular and vascular education
Key Responsibilities Take patient history; prepare, maintain and operate sonography equipment; obtain and analyze images; prepare reports for physicians
Licensure or Certification Some states require licensure; most employers prefer professional certification
Job Growth (2014-2024) 26%
Median Salary (2015) $68,970

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Would I Do as a Sonogram Technician?

As a sonogram technician, you would be in close contact with patients, using a tool placed on the skin to observe the organs below. Many sonogram technicians work in the field of obstetrics, monitoring fetal growth and development, but you could also specialize in abdominal, breast or neurological sonography. Doctors and their teams use the images that you create to aid in diagnosis and treatment. Most sonography jobs are in hospitals, but you could also work in private practices or clinics.

What Education Do I Need?

You will need some formal training to begin work as a sonogram technician, the most prevalent of which are 2-year associate's degree programs. The Commission on Accreditation for Allied Health Education Programs accredits associate's and bachelor's degree programs in diagnostic medical sonography (www.caahep.org). In a training program, you will study anatomy, medical terminology and the fundamentals of sonography. You may also practice in a supervised clinical setting in order to gain practical experience before you begin working as a sonogram technician.

What Is the Job Outlook?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment for diagnostic medical sonographers is projected to increase by 26% from 2014-2024, which is much faster than average for all other occupations (www.bls.gov). Sonography procedures are expected to increase due to the technology's relative safety and growing capabilities.

How Could I Advance My Career?

The BLS notes that job prospects are best for sonogram technicians with one or more certifications, so you may choose to seek a professional credential. The American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers offers the Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer designation as well as more specialized credentials (www.ardms.org). You are eligible to take the certification exam after you have met the education and experience requirements.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Another option for individuals who are interested in diagnostic imaging is a job as a radiologic technician. These professionals specialize in using x-rays, scanners and other radiation-based equipment to produce images that doctors can use to identify diseases and injuries in their patients. You could also consider becoming a nuclear medicine technologist. In this job, you would prepare radioactive pharmaceuticals, administer them to patients and help create images that doctors can use for diagnosis based on abnormalities in the location of the radioactive drugs in the body. To become a radiologic or nuclear medicine technologist, you usually need to complete an associate's degree. Nuclear medicine technologists must also be licensed in some states.

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