What's the Difference Between Ultrasound and Sonography?

Sonography and ultrasonography describe a type of diagnostic medical technology used by sonographers to create images of the human body. If you're interested in learning more about these procedures or the training needed to begin a career in this field, read on. Schools offering Diagnostic Medical Sonography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Sonography and Ultrasound Explained

The terms sonography and ultrasonography are both used to refer to the diagnostic medical procedures that use sound waves to create visual images of internal organs. These images are much like X-rays. But unlike X-ray procedures, ultrasounds and sonograms do not expose patients to radiation. They can also be more cost effective than other types of medical imaging technologies.

Ultrasound or sonogram procedures can be used in several specialty fields, such as obstetrics or cardiology. For example, as a sonographer, you might use ultrasound to look at the development of unborn babies. You could also use ultrasound to look for abnormalities in the heart, abdomen or brain. Typically, these procedures are used to diagnose health problems, but they can also be used for preventative measures. There are multiple types of ultrasound procedures, including transvaginal and transabdominal ultrasounds.

Important Facts About This Field

Key Skills Hand-eye coordination, technical, detail oriented, and interpersonal skills
Similar Occupations MRI technologist, radiation therapist, nuclear medicine technologist
Required Education Programs typically consist of courses in medical terminology, anatomy, and applied sciences
On-the-Job Training Clinical internships available

Career Information

As a sonographer, you'll prepare patients for ultrasounds by updating their medical histories and explaining procedures to put them at ease. You'll also set up the equipment and adjust it as needed to capture the clear and concise images needed to help physicians make proper diagnoses. Employment in this field can be found with hospitals, doctors' offices and public health clinics. You might also work as independent contractor and travel to multiple facilities.

Salary Expectations and Job Growth Predictions

The BLS noted that the median annual wage for diagnostic medical sonographers was $72,510 in May 2018. Employment in this occupation was predicted to increase by 23% from 2016-2026, much faster than for other occupations, the BLS said. Sonography will increasingly replace more costly and invasive medical procedures, according to the BLS.

Career Preparation

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), to become a sonographer, you can complete a 2- and 4-year degree program or receive training through the armed forces. Individuals with relevant healthcare experience can sometimes complete a 1-year certificate program offered by a hospital.

The BLS also states that, while you don't usually have to be licensed to work in this field, employers often prefer job applicants who are registered through a professional association, such as the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). The Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer credential is available to applicants who meet education and experience requirements and pass an exam. The ARDMS also offers the option of becoming registered in a specialty area, such as obstetrics and gynecology, fetal echocardiography or neurosonology.

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