Medical imaging is important in diagnosing many health problems. While x-ray and magnetic resonance machines were once the most popular forms of medical imaging, today sonography is growing in popularity. Sonography has traditionally been used to check the developing fetus during pregnancy, but it can also be used to produce images of organs, muscles, and other parts of the body. As this becomes more widely used in the medical world, the demand for diagnostic medical sonography professionals will only continue to rise. Could this be the right job for you?
Diagnostic medical sonographers typically choose one of several specialties to help focus their talents. The most common sonographer careers include:
Obstetric and gynecologic (OB-GYN) sonographers are among the most popular in this career field, as they use sonography to monitor pregnancies, which is the safest imaging option for the fetus. Abdominal sonographers, on the other hand, specialize in diagnosing conditions of the liver, kidneys, gallbladder, stomach, pancreas, and spleen. Occasionally, abdominal sonographers also use sonographic technology to scan the chest, though other machines are often more popular for diagnosing conditions in this area.
One growing area of diagnostic medical sonography is neurosonography. Professionals who work in this area of medical imagining use sonographic equipment to scan the brain and other parts of the nervous system. The machines used by neurosonographers use different frequencies and beams to create images. Another type of sonography that uses different frequencies and beams is the breast sonographer, which studies tissue through high-frequency beams. Breast sonographers diagnose breast cancer, which affects millions of women — and some men — every year.
To work as a diagnostic medical sonographer, no matter what specialty you choose, you need a solid education to help you find a job. Some employers hire and train those with just a high school diploma, but this is becoming increasingly rare. There are also one-year training programs, which provide you with a certificate for sonography, but these programs are not accredited with the Commission on Accreditation for Allied Health Education Programs. However, there are nearly 150 two-year and four-year programs that are accredited, and most employers like to see one of these programs on your resume.
According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 53,700 sonographers in the United States as of 2010, mostly working state, local, and private hospitals, and earning a median salary of $64,380. Between 2010 and 2020, employment for medical sonographers is expected to rise about 44 percent, which is faster than average expected job growth across all industry. That means that today is the perfect time to consider a diagnostic medical sonographer career. Be sure that the program you choose is properly accredited to ensure that your degree will be accepted by future employers.
If you already have a job and don't have time for rigid class schedules, earning a degree online is the way to go. With the degree programs listed below, you can earn your health services degree by attending classes with flexible schedules. Although there aren't any specific sonography degrees online, a related health services degree is just what you need to jump start your career as an ultrasound tech.
Purdue University — The Associate of Applied Science degree in medical assisting from Purdue University is not a sonography program, but might make a good background for the field . It provides an entry-level education perfectly suited for those wishing to go into a career in diagnostic medical sonography. Students of this program will learn all the basic skills required of any medical assistant.
Herzing University — Herzing University has an associate's degree in medical assisting program, which is not the same thing as an ultrasound technologist program, but is very similar, that is focused on preparing students to become the next generation of healthcare leaders with knowledge of advanced medical technologies, such as health systems databases, songraphy equipment, and more.
Use our degree finder, and we'll help you find a degree program suitable for sonographers.