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Sonographer Education Requirements and Career Information

Job Descriptions February 13, 2013

Special medical equipment is used by sonographers in transmitting sound waves into the body to make medical diagnostic images, which will be used by doctors to identify possible problems. Two or four year degrees may be earned by prospective sonographers.

Sonographer Educational Requirements

A medical sonographer could enter this career field via on-the-job training in a sonography practice, which carries accreditation from American Institution of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM – www.aium.org). Students could also train through a combination of either on-the-job and formal training or a formal education program. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) there is an increase in companies who are interested in employing registered sonographers that have training via a formal education program. The programs are available through the military along with vocational schools and community colleges. Students who want to prepare themselves in this profession during high school should consider coursework in health, math, and science. Formal education programs are available as either a bachelor or associate degree. The most popular programs are the two-year program. Sonographers’ coursework includes instrumentation, physics, patient care, medical terminology, and human anatomy. In 2008, there were over one hundred fifty accredited sonographer training programs according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Sonographers Certification Requirements

State licensure is not mandatory, but sonographers would benefit by seeking credentials offered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). Registration requirements include passing an examination after which these professionals will be known as Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (RDMS). The ARDMS mandates that registration must be maintained through continuing education. Many specialty areas of credentialing are available including vascular, cardiac, abdomen, breast and nervous system sonography.

Sonographer Career Information

Machinery is used by a medical sonographer to generate sound waves in creating an image of the body for use in diagnosis. Obstetricians visualize the fetus during pregnancy mainly by using sonography (or ultrasonography). A sonographer is a trained professional who is adept at discriminating between diseased and healthy areas. Suspected abnormalities of any kind are brought to the notice of a physician for diagnosing. Sonographers also maintain equipment and patient records, and travel to a patient’s location as and when required, while being employed in a healthcare facility. Once they earn competency in a focus area, sonographers can expect to advance in their careers. Multiple credentialing is also possible that could help these professionals achieve supervisory or administrative positions.

Sonographer Career Outlook

Job growth of eighteen percent has been projected for sonographers during the period from 2008 to 2018 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). The optimistic projection is due to the increasing job opportunities forecast in diagnostic labs and doctors’ offices apart from hospitals. In May 2008, sonographers earned an average annual salary of $62,660 (www.bls.gov).

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