Sonogram Technician: Career Summary, Occupational Outlook, and Educational Requirements

Research what it takes to become a sonogram technician, or diagnostic medical sonographer. Learn about job duties, outlook, salary and education requirements to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Diagnostic Medical Sonography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Sonogram Technician?

As a sonogram technician, you'll use non-invasive imaging techniques to help doctors diagnose and treat various medical conditions. This involves maintaining and operating imaging equipment. Before a procedure, a sonogram technician will learn more about the patient's medical history and give information about the procedure. They must also look over the images and tests to give the physician an analysis and relevant information.

The following chart provides an overview of this career.

Degree Required Associate's or bachelor's degree usually required
Education Field of Study Diagnostic medical sonography
Key Skills Using a sonogram, interpreting images, taking medical histories
Certification Available
Job Growth (2014-2024) 26% (for diagnostic medical sonographers)*
Average Salary (May 2015) $70,880 (for diagnostic medical sonographers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Sonographer Do?

A sonogram technician, also known as a diagnostic medical sonographer, uses a sonogram to create images of the internal parts of a human body in a non-invasive manner. These sound waves are sent into the body. When they reverberate off soft tissues and organs, they product images of those organs. As a sonographer, you'll create these sonograms or ultrasounds to help physicians diagnose their patients' medical conditions.

While sonograms are usually best associated with obstetrics, they are being used more frequently to determine other internal conditions. You'll first examine the images, look for irregularities or problems, and then provide the images to physicians who will interpret them. You'll also keep patient records, take down medical history and position the patient on the exam table to obtain the best image results.

What Type of Education Do I Need?

If you want to become a sonogram technician, you'll need an associate's degree in diagnostic medical sonography. This degree program is available at many colleges and universities, and offers courses such as anatomy, physiology, instrumentation, medical terminology, basic physics and medical ethics. Although you'll learn about various fields, you will be able to select a specialty such as obstetric and gynecologic sonography, abdominal sonography, neurosonography or breast sonography.

Once you've earned your degree, you may gain certification by taking the Sonography Principles and Instrumentation Examination offered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (www.ardms.org). Upon earning this certification, you can then test for specialty exams that lead to certification as a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS), a Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS) or a Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT).

What Can I Earn in This Career?

The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that between 2014 and 2024 job opportunities for sonographers is expected to grow by 26% (www.bls.gov). Most sonogram technicians were employed by hospitals, and those workers earned an average annual salary of $70,500 in May 2015, according to the BLS. The top-paying industries for this occupation were outpatient care centers with an average annual salary of $83,600, followed by management of companies and enterprises at $82,860 a year.

The BLS reported the top-paying states for sonogram technicians were California, with an average annual salary of $95,880, followed by District of Columbia at $88,230 a year. Overall, sonogram technicians earned an average salary of $70,880 in May 2015, according to the BLS.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Other career options similar to a sonogram technician include a radiation therapist or radiologic and MRI technologist position. Like a sonogram technician, both options require an associate's degree and the use of advanced medical equipment. As a radiation therapist, you would use X-rays to treat patients with radiation. Radiologic and MRI technologists use X-rays and MRI technology to take images of the body for the purpose of diagnosis by a physician.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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