Prenatal Sonography Technician: Requirements, Education & Salary
Check out the information about becoming a prenatal sonography technician. In this article, you will find out about the requirements, education, salary, job duties and more.
Career at a First Glance
A prenatal sonography technician, often referred to as an obstetric ultrasound technician, performs ultrasound imaging on pregnant mothers to develop pictures of the fetus or embryo (developing baby). This can be to determine the development of the embryo or fetus and diagnose several types of disorders or abnormalities. Check out the chart below for more information:
|Degree Required||Associate's degree|
|Education Field of Study||Sonography|
|Job Duties||Prepare patients for procedure; operate ultrasound machine; monitor pregnant mother and unborn infant|
|Certification/Licensure||Certification through ARDMS|
|Median Salary (2020)||$75,920 per year (all diagnostic medical sonographers)*|
|Job Outlook (2020-2030)||19% Growth (all diagnostic medical sonographers)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Does a Prenatal Sonography Technician Job Entail?
A prenatal sonography technician conducts a procedure on pregnant women to check for a variety of issues. These issues can include assessing whether or not there is truly a living fetus inside her, determining how far along a mother is in her pregnancy, assessing the unborn child's or multiple children's growth, checking for any abnormalities and evaluating the position of the child in the uterus.
Additionally, there is a Doppler ultrasound, which can be operated by a prenatal sonography technician, in which the technique evaluates the blood flow of the umbilical cord, fetus or placenta. It can also determine the blood flow through the arteries, organs and veins in the abdomen, legs, arms and/or brain.
What Education Is Required?
You will need to get your associate's degree in sonography at the minimum; however, there is also the route of gaining a one-year certificate or a bachelor's degree in sonography. You will want to check with the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) for approved programs. In these programs you will be taking courses in applied sciences, anatomy and medical terminology. Furthermore, at the beginning of these programs you will take classes that correspond to your specialty of prenatal care.
Most programs will also require that you attend clinical placements during your education which will help you gain professional experience in an imaging laboratory, hospital or physician's office. While certification isn't required, it is highly recommended as most employers want to see sonographers with certification from the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS).
How Much Will I Earn?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary of diagnostic medical sonographers is $75,920 per year as of May 2020. The highest mean wage was found for those working in outpatient care centers, with a mean of $102,070. Most work full-time hours, but some may work weekends, evenings and overnight shifts depending the type of facility that they work in.
What Are the Important Qualities for a Prenatal Sonography Technician?
A prenatal sonography technician should have proficient interpersonal skills because they have to work closely with patients. They must be able to communicate effectively when discussing the procedure with patients and the images with physicians and other staff members. Good hand-eye coordination is also important due to the fact that they have to take pictures for certain parts of the body and those images have to appear accurately on the screen.
Physical stamina and technical skills are other great abilities to have for this kind of work because sonography work may involve helping to lift patients and being on your feet for long hours during the day. Lastly, prenatal sonography technicians will need to be detailed oriented for the purpose of providing adequate instructions to treat patients.
What Are Some Alternative Careers?
A registered nurse (RN) gets to coordinate patient care, educate individuals and provide advice to patients and families; this would require an associate's or bachelor's degree. Radiologic and MRI technologists perform diagnostic imaging such as x-rays; similar to a prenatal sonography technician, these positions only require an associate's degree.
You could also study to become a medical and clinical laboratory technologist or technician. These workers can do a variety of tasks, including analyzing blood samples and body fluids, operating required equipment, logging data for medical testing and performing detailed manual tests. This type of work would also require a bachelor's degree; however, some programs can be completed in two years or less.