The role of diagnostic medical sonographers is to use a form of imaging that utilizes sound waves, or ultrasonography, to create photos or videos of body tissues and organs. The purpose is for disease to be identified by physicians. The most common option usually taken to pursue this career is Associate of Science (A.S.) degree programs in medical sonography.
A.S. Programs in Medical Sonography
Students enrolled in an associate degree program in the field of diagnostic medical sonography are trained in the accurate use of instrumentation to produce images that show specific areas of the human body, with emphasis usually placed on small, including abdominal and obstetric, body parts. More advanced instruction is required to impart training in vascular areas or echocardiography. It takes between 18-24 months to complete associate degree programs that combine classroom lectures with clinical experiences.
Admission criteria in most associate degree programs in medical sonography require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma, apart from some work experience in health care environments. Only medical professionals with current licensure are accepted by some programs and passage of special entrance examinations is sometimes required. Schools may also consider college entrance exam scores and review prior science and math courses done.
Apart from specific training in the areas of cardiac, vascular, abdominal and obstetric/gynecological sonography, Coursework may also include topic areas such as:
Job and Wage Outlook
A faster-than-average job growth rate of 39% has been projected for medical sonographers during the decade from 2012 to 2022 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). This growth is expected to be driven by an aging population. In 2012, medical sonographers took home an average annual wage of $60,350.
Medical sonographers may boost their careers through voluntary certifications, such as cardiology or abdominal. By meeting professional experience and education standards along with passage of a certification exam, interested candidates may accomplish a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS) certification. While such certification is not mandatory, employers prefer candidates who hold the RDMS credential. The certification procedures for general sonographers and individuals who hold specialization is overseen by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Those seeking higher wages and responsibilities can pursue bachelor’s degree programs in the field.