Exploring A Health Services Career? What To Know About Becoming A Sonographer

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The American medical system successfully offers specialized care for millions of patients of all ages each year. This is because doctors are supported by a variety of specific technical fields staffed by specialized and professional technicians. These technicians are able to provide the important tests doctors need to successfully diagnose and treat their patients. 

Sonography is one of these specialized fields that doctors depend upon to help them provide quality care for their patients. Medical technicians who want to enjoy a health services career can do so by opting to become a certified medical sonographer. If you are interested in pursuing a career in the health industry, the following information can help you decide if it is the right choice for you. 

What type of education is needed to become a medical sonographer? 

A career as a medical sonographer is an excellent choice for those who enjoy learning and have a good grasp of math and science. While licensing is not required in all states to become a sonographer, becoming certified through either an accredited one-year course or a two-year associate's degree program provides an excellent foundation for this career path. In addition to this type of training, sonography students also participate in hands-on training and may be required to take specific classes to help them specialize in a certain type of sonography, such as that directed at the breast, abdominal area, or cardiovascular system.

What type of pay scale is typical for a sonographer and is the industry expected to grow? 

While pay rates can vary widely, depending on where the sonographer works and the actual demand for their level of skill, the median annual pay rate for medical, diagnostic, cardiovascular, and vascular sonography technicians in the U.S. was $65,620, according to statistics provided by the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. This figure translates to an average hourly pay rate of $31.55. 

These same statistics also show that the sonography industry is expected to continue to grow at a good pace over the next several years. In fact, the number of sonography jobs in 2016 is shown as 122,300, but the outlook for growth through 2016 is estimated to be 17 percent, which is a faster job growth rate than that found in many other industries. 

Where do sonographers typically work? 

While sonographers are in demand by small clinics, practices, and regional care centers, many go on to work at larger hospital facilities and treatment centers capable of providing care for thousands of patients each year. Trained sonographers who prefer more variety their work environment can also sign up for contract positions through medical staffing agencies, often at premium per hour pay rates. 

What are some typical duties a sonographer might perform in the average day? 

Sonography technicians use specialized imaging machines to test patients. While doing this type of work with a specific patient, a typical sonographer might: 

  • take the patient's medical history and pertinent information necessary for their medical records and billing
  • use specific sonography equipment to obtain images and test results, as ordered by a physician or other medical care provider
  • review the results of the tests and images, and provide a report for the ordering physician or medical care provider
  • update patient files and records with the results of the testing

In addition to working with patients and their files and medical records, sonographers also help to prepare the imaging equipment for each test, as well as perform regular maintenance tasks to protect its functionality. 

To learn more about joining the exciting field of medical sonography, contact your high school or college guidance counselor or a sonographer continuing education staff member in your area. 

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3 July 2018

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