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What Are the Job Duties for a Sonographer?

Sonogram technicians, also known as diagnostic medical sonographers, use equipment to direct high frequency non-ionizing sound waves into a patient's body. The sound waves echo back to equipment, which collects the data and forms images that are interpreted for diagnosis by a physician.

Career Overview

A sonographer uses sound waves to view inside patients' bodies. Sonography is used to diagnose diseases or medical problems or to view a fetus. Before beginning a procedure, sonographers review a patient's medical history and explain the procedure to the patient. According to the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (www.sdms.org), sonographers use a transducer on the body that sends a stream of high-frequency sound waves into the body, where they bounce off the affected area. Sound waves are reflected differently by bones, organs, and physical structures. The sounds and images are analyzed by a computer and can be recorded for further study.

Important Facts About Sonographers

Required Education Associate's degree most common; bachelor's degree and certificate programs also available
Key Skills Attention to detail, good hand-eye coordination, ability to interact well with others, physical endurance, technologically savvy
Work Environment Hospitals, physician's offices, and diagnostic laboratories
Similar Occupations Nuclear medicine technologist, radiologic and MRI technologist, medical and clinical laboratory technologist

Duties and Responsibilities

Sonographers should be in good shape in order to complete their duties. In addition to knowing how to use the transducer and other machinery, sonographers should be able to perform these typical tasks:

  • Routinely lift 50 pounds
  • Stoop and bend
  • Have complete range of motion in shoulders, hands, and wrists
  • Good hearing in order to distinguish sounds from monograms
  • Stand for a long time
  • Help patients onto and off exam tables
  • Perform the sonogram in the appropriate sequence

Areas of Specialization

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) highlights several specialty areas of sonography. Most areas of the body may be diagnosed via sonography, but certain types of sonography may be used more frequently than others. These areas of sonography include:

  • Neurosonology - brain and spinal cord
  • Ophthalmology - eye
  • Diagnostic mammography - breast
  • Soft tissue of the abdominal cavities
  • Vascular technology, echocardiography - blood flow of the abdominal blood vessels or of the heart
  • Obstetric sonography - female reproductive system

Employment and Salary

The employment of diagnostic medical sonographers will likely grow by 23% between 2016 and 2026, predicts the BLS. Sonographers earned an average of $73,860 a year in 2018, reported the Bureau, which noted that those employed by outpatient care centers averaged salaries of $88,820 the same year.