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Diagnostic Medical Sonographer Job Description, Career as a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training Training in accredited program preferred

Salary Median—$57,160 per year

Employment Outlook Good

Diagnostic medical sonographers use diagnostic imaging to help physicians diagnose ailing patients. They use special equipment that projects sound waves into areas of the patient’s body to generate an image for assessment and for diagnosing certain medical conditions. In addition, diagnostic medical sonographers keep patient records, prepare work schedules, maintain the equipment, evaluate equipment needs, and may even manage an imaging department.

Diagnostic medical sonographers usually specialize in one or more of the seven specialties offered which include obstetrics and gynecology; breast; abdomen; echocardiography; vascular technology; ophthalmology; and, neurosonology.

Diagnostic medical sonographers usually work in healthcare facilities including hospitals, laboratories, mobile imaging services, and physician offices. They must possess strong interpersonal skills to be able to work with patients, be organized, and have ample knowledge of diagnostic imaging equipment.

Education and Training Requirements

Although there is no preferred education for diagnostic medical sonographers, it is recommended they be registered and have some training through an accredited program. Training can be obtained within hospitals, through vocational and technical institutions, universities and colleges, as well as through the Armed Forces. Other preferred requirements include a background in science, as well as healthcare experience.

Colleges and universities offer two- or four-year programs which earn either an associate degree or a bachelor degree. Most diagnostic medical sonographers choose two-year programs and earn an associate degree upon entering the workforce.

Getting the Job

Interested candidates should apply directly to the employer, check local newspaper employment listings, or online job search companies for possible employment opportunities. Colleges and universities with degree and certificate programs may also post jobs or refer students to area employers looking for candidates.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

The employment outlook for diagnostic medical sonographers is expected to be very favorable through the year 2016. As the population grows, there will be a greater need for diagnostic imaging, increasing the number of open positions. Sonography is expected to become more popular and may even replace radiologic procedures since it does not involve radiation and patients do not experience side effects from this type of treatment. Hospitals are expected to remain the principal employer; however, other facilities such as diagnostic imaging centers and laboratories will also seek diagnostic medical sonographers.

For advancement opportunities, most diagnostic medical sonographers who specialize in one discipline may add another discipline to their resume. Others may seek job opportunities within education, research technical advising, administration or sales.

Working Conditions

Diagnostic medical sonographers generally work in healthcare facilities which are clean and well-ventilated. Within the facility they spend most of their time in dark rooms working with diagnostic imaging machines. Sometimes they work on their feet and have to lift and/or turn disabled patients.

Due to the nature of their work, diagnostic medical sonographers stand a greater chance of having musculoskeletal disorders such as neck and back strain, carpel tunnel syndrome, and eye strain. However, the invention of ergonomic equipment has helped minimize the risks substantially.

Their usual work week consists of 40 hours per week, with the possibility of evenings and weekends for those working in hospitals. Diagnostic medical sonographers may also be on call for the hospital in case of emergencies.
Most diagnostic medical sonographers are regular full-time employees within healthcare facilities, however, in some cases they work as contract employees or with mobile imaging service providers, traveling day-to-day to and from several facilities in a particular area.

Where to Go for More Information

Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography
2745 Dallas Pkwy., Ste. 350
Plano, TX 75093-8730

American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography
51 Monroe St., Plaza East 1
Rockville, MD 20850-2400

American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine
14750 Sweitzer Lane, Ste. 100
Laurel, MD20707-5906

Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography
2025 Woodlane Dr.
St. Paul, MN 55125-2998

Commission on Accreditation for Allied Health Education Programs
35 E. Wacker Dr., Ste. 1970
Chicago, IL 60601

Earnings and Benefits

Diagnostic medical sonographers are typically employed by public or private hospitals, physician offices, laboratories and mobile imaging services. Salaries vary depending on the number of specialties practiced, the geographical location of the facility, as well as years of experience in the field.

The median salary for diagnostic medical sonographers was $57,160 in May 2006. Those who work in physician offices and general hospitals generally earn slightly lower salaries.

Diagnostic medical sonographers receive typical benefits, which usually include paid vacations, health and life insurance, as well as a pension plan.

Additional topics

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