Become an Ultrasonographer: Job Description, Salary & Education

Get to know what a career as an ultrasonographer entails. Learn more about the education and certification requirements, the day-to-day tasks, projected job growth, and median income for this profession. Schools offering Diagnostic Medical Sonography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information at a Glance

Ultrasonographers are responsible for operating advanced medical equipment in order to construct images of the human body. They must prepare the images and write summaries of their findings to aid in a physician's diagnosis of a patient. In the table below, you'll find the education and certification requirements, the projected job growth, and median income of ultrasonographers.

Education Required Associate's degree or bachelor's degree from a CAAHEP-accredited program; or the completion of a two-year health-related program accompanied by the necessary work experience
Education Field of Study Sonography, patient-care related allied health education
Certification Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS) certification or Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS) certifications
Projected Job Growth (2016-2026) 23%*
Median Income (2017) $71,410*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does an Ultrasonographer Do?

Ultrasonographers, also known as diagnostic medical sonographers, operate medical machinery that uses high-frequency sound waves to construct images of the body's organs and tissues. They work directly with patients while carrying out their procedures and are required to ensure that patients are safe and comfortable throughout the process. Ultrasonographers are responsible for then analyzing the images and relaying the technical information to the doctor via written or oral summary reports. Their findings aid a physician's ability to draw accurate diagnoses for their patients.

What Are the Education Options for Becoming an Ultrasonographer?

There are many universities and colleges that offer two-year associate's degree programs or four-year bachelor's degree programs in sonography. In order to earn the certification required by most employers, ultrasonographers must earn a degree from a program that is approved by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Coursework in these fields includes general courses in medical terminology, anatomy, and applied sciences along with courses in specializations of sonography use. If this type of formal post-secondary education has not been completed, candidates can also become eligible for certification by completing a two-year patient-care related allied health education program and gaining a year of experience of clinical ultrasound work experience.

What Certification Is Required?

Most employers prefer to hire ultrasonographers that have earned a certification through the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). The two standard certifications for ultrasonographers are the Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS) certification and the Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS) certification. Both of these certifications require that candidates meet the aforementioned education requirements as well as pass a generalized exam on Sonography Principles and Instrumentation (SPI). Both certifications also require that candidates pass an additional exam in a specialized field.

What Are the Types of Specializations?

In order to become a certified RDMS, candidates must specialize in one the following areas: Abdomen (AB), Breast (BR), Fetal Echocardiography (FE), Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN), or Pediatric Sonography (PS). After passing the foundational SPI exam, an individual must also pass an exam in one of these given specialties in order to become certified. For the RDCS certification, candidates must specialize in one of the following areas: Adult Echocardiography (AE), Fetal Echocardiography (FE), or Pediatric Echocardiography (PE) and pass the exam specific to that specialization. These specializations correspond with the types of patients and images that a sonographer interacts with on a daily basis.

What is the Salary, Career Outlook, and Job Prospects for Ultrasonographers?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), diagnostic medical sonographers earned a median income of $71,410 as of May 2017. Employment for individuals in this industry is expected to grow by 23% between 2016 and 2026. As the U.S. population continues to grow and age, the demand for medical procedures and diagnoses is projected to increase as well. The BLS also states that diagnostic medical sonographers with more than one type of certification are expected to experience the best opportunity for employment.

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:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools