Ultrasound technicians or sonographers, also called diagnostic medical ultrasound technologists, truly provide a window into the inner workings of your body. Using specialized wands, these professionals use sound waves to generate 2D or 3D images of organs or embryos that can be viewed on a monitor screen. These images can be photographed or videotaped for diagnostic review by a radiologist or physician. Ultrasound and sonography technicians also take measurements, make calculations, and analyze ultrasound results for reports. Finally, they explain these procedures to patients and confirm medical record data.
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How to Become an Ultrasound and Sonography Professional
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are a number of paths to a career in ultrasound and sonography. These include:
- Hospital training programs
- Vocational or technical schools
- 4-year colleges
- The Armed Forces
While training length varies, the BLS notes that 2-year ultrasound and sonography programs through technical schools, which typically result in associate degrees, are the most prevalent. Some professionals choose to earn a 4-year bachelor's degree from a college instead. Still others enroll in a less common 1-year program for certification, though these programs are not certified by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.
According to the BLS, the median annual salary of diagnostic medical ultrasound technologists was $61,980 in May 2008, with the middle 50 percent earning between $52,570 and $73,680. While no state requires certification, this voluntary credential can boost employment and salary potential.
Job opportunities for ultrasound and sonography technicians are expected to grow faster than the national average through 2018, thanks to an aging population plus increased demand for diagnostic imaging.