What Are the Education Requirements for Sonographers?

Diagnostic medical sonographers use ultrasound equipment to produce internal images of the body. Read on to discover the education and certification requirements needed to become a sonographer. Schools offering Diagnostic Medical Sonography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Overview of Sonography Work

As a diagnostic medical sonographer, you'll be responsible for operating specialized equipment to take images of patients' organs for diagnosis. The equipment you'll work with emits sound waves and interprets the echoes to create these diagnostic images. Generally, you'll use sonography to examine the female reproductive system, the heart, tissue and blood vessels. Other duties may include obtaining patients' medical histories, analyzing sonographic images for irregularities and reporting your findings to physicians for diagnosis.

You'll most likely work in a hospital, although you may also find employment in a group practice or medical center that specializes in diagnostic imaging. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that diagnostic medical sonographers earned a median annual wage of $72,510 in May 2018 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also noted that this is a booming field, with employment of sonographers expected to increase by about 23% between 2016 and 2026.

Important Facts About Sonographers

Key Skills Attention to Detail, Hand-Eye Coordination, Interpersonal Communication
Work Environment Laboratory Setting
On-The-Job Training None
Similar Occupations Clinical Laboratory Technician, Nuclear Medicine Technologist, MRI Technologist

Earn an Associate's Degree

The BLS reports that associate's degree programs are the most commonly available educational programs for medical sonographers, although you may choose to enroll in a hospital certificate program if you have relevant healthcare experience. A 4-year bachelor's degree program is offered also. You'll generally complete an associate's degree program in two years. Your classes will cover topics in:

  • Sonographic physics
  • Doppler Vascular Sonography
  • Medical Terminology
  • Cardiovascular Phlebotomy

Some programs allow you to concentrate in imaging a certain part of the body, such as the abdomen, cardiovascular system or reproductive system. In addition to classroom instruction, your program will also require you to complete clinical practicum hours. You'll use these clinical hours to gain hands-on experience with different sonography techniques, equipment and images.

Become Certified

The BLS reports that you are not required to earn a license to practice as a sonographer; however, you may increase your employment chances if you become certified. The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography offers the Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer credential to specialists in the field (www.ardms.org). Candidates must take the Sonography Principles and Instrumentation exam, as well pass an exam in a chosen specialty, such as obstetrics and gynecology, abdomen, breast, fetal and neurosonology.

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