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Become A Sonographer

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Working As A Sonographer

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Getting Information
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Repetitive

  • $79,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Sonographer Do

Diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians, including vascular technologists, operate special imaging equipment to create images or conduct tests. The images and test results help physicians assess and diagnose medical conditions. Some technologists assist physicians and surgeons during surgical procedures.

Duties

Diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians, including vascular technologists, typically do the following:

  • Prepare patients for procedures by taking a patient’s medical history and answering any questions about the procedure
  • Prepare and maintain diagnostic imaging equipment
  • Operate equipment to obtain diagnostic images or to conduct tests
  • Review images or test results to check for quality and adequate coverage of the areas needed for diagnoses
  • Recognize the difference between normal and abnormal images and other diagnostic information
  • Analyze diagnostic information to provide a summary of findings for physicians
  • Record findings and keep track of patients’ records

Diagnostic medical sonographers specialize in creating images of the body’s organs and tissues. The images are known as sonograms (or ultrasounds). Sonograms are often the first imaging test performed when disease is suspected. Diagnostic medical sonographers may work closely with physicians or surgeons before, during, and after procedures. The following are examples of types of diagnostic medical sonographers:

  • Abdominal sonographers specialize in imaging a patient’s abdominal cavity and nearby organs, such as the kidney, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, or spleen. Abdominal sonographers may assist with biopsies or other examinations requiring ultrasound guidance.
  • Breast sonographers specialize in imaging a patient’s breast tissues. Sonography can confirm the presence of cysts and tumors that may have been detected by the patient, physician, or a mammogram. Breast sonographers work closely with physicians and assist with procedures that track tumors and help to provide information for making decisions about the best treatment options for breast cancer patients.
  • Musculoskeletal sonographers specialize in imaging muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints. These sonographers may assist with ultrasound guidance for injections, or during surgical procedures, that deliver medication or treatment directly to affected tissues.
  • Pediatric sonographers specialize in imaging child and infant patients. Many of the medical conditions they image are associated with premature births or birth defects. Pediatric sonographers may work closely with pediatricians and other caregivers. 
  • Obstetric and gynecologic sonographers specialize in imaging the female reproductive system. Many pregnant women receive sonograms to track the baby’s growth and health. Obstetrical sonographers work closely with physicians in detecting congenital birth defects.

Diagnostic sonography uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the inside of the body. The sonographer uses an instrument called an ultrasound transducer on the parts of the patient’s body that are being examined. The transducer emits pulses of sound that bounce back, causing echoes. The echoes are then sent to the ultrasound machine, which processes them and displays them as images used by physicians for diagnosis.

Cardiovascular technologists and technicians create images, conduct tests, or assist with surgical procedures involving the heart. The following are examples of types of cardiovascular technologists and technicians:

  • Cardiac sonographers (echocardiographers) specialize in imaging a patient’s heart and use ultrasound equipment to examine the heart’s chambers, valves, and vessels. The images are known as echocardiograms. The echocardiogram procedure may be done while the patient is either resting or after being physically active. Cardiac sonographers also may take echocardiograms of fetal hearts so that physicians can diagnose cardiac conditions during pregnancy. Cardiac sonographers work closely with physicians or surgeons before, during, and after procedures.
  • Cardiovascular invasive specialists or cardiac catheterization technologists, also known as cardiovascular technologists, monitor patients’ heart rates and help physicians in diagnosing and treating problems with patients’ hearts. They assist with cardiac catheterization, which involves threading a catheter through a patient’s artery to the heart. They also prepare and monitor patients during open-heart surgery and during the insertion of pacemakers and stents. Technologists prepare patients for procedures by shaving and cleansing the area where the catheter will be inserted and administering topical anesthesia. During the procedure, they monitor the patient’s blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Cardiographic or electrocardiogram (EKG) technicians specialize in electrocardiogram (EKG) testing. EKG machines monitor the heart’s performance through electrodes attached to a patient’s chest, arms, and legs. The tests can be done while the patient is at rest or while the patient is physically active. For a stress test, the patient walks on a treadmill and the technician gradually increases the speed to observe the effect of increased exertion.

Vascular technologists (vascular sonographers) are closely related to cardiovascular technologists and their duties are similar to those of diagnostic medical sonographers. Vascular technologists create images of blood vessels and collect data that help physicians diagnose disorders affecting blood flow.

Vascular technologists often measure a patient’s blood pressure and the volume of blood in their arms, legs, fingers, and toes to evaluate blood flow and identify blocked arteries. They complete noninvasive procedures using specialized ultrasound instruments or blood pressure cuffs to record information, such as the blood flow in arteries and veins, blood pressure (blood volume), oxygen saturation, and the presence of blood clots in the body. Vascular technologists may work closely with physicians or surgeons before, during, and after procedures.

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How To Become A Sonographer

Diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians, including vascular technologists, need formal education, such as an associate’s degree or a postsecondary certificate. Many employers also require professional certification.

Education

Colleges and universities offer both associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs in sonography and in cardiovascular and vascular technology. One-year certificate programs also are available from colleges or hospitals.

Employers typically prefer graduates of programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

Sonography, cardiovascular, and vascular education programs usually include courses in anatomy, medical terminology, and applied sciences. Most sonography programs are divided into the specialized fields that correspond to the relevant certification exams, such as abdominal sonography or breast sonography. Cardiovascular and vascular programs include coursework in either invasive or noninvasive cardiovascular or vascular technology procedures. In addition to classroom study, most programs also include a clinical component in which students earn credit while working under a more experienced technologist in a hospital, physician’s office, or imaging laboratory.

High school students who are interested in diagnostic medical sonography, cardiovascular technology, or vascular technology should take courses in anatomy, physiology, physics, and math.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most employers prefer to hire diagnostic imaging workers with professional certification. Many insurance providers and Medicare pay for procedures only if a certified sonographer, technologist, or technician performed the work. Certification is available from the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Credentialing International.

Diagnostic imaging workers can earn certification by graduating from an accredited program and passing an exam. Most of the certifications are for specialties in diagnostic imaging; for example, a sonographer can earn a certification in abdominal sonography. Most diagnostic imaging workers have at least one certification, but many earn multiple certifications.

In addition, many employers prefer to hire candidates who have a Basic Life Support certification, which shows they are trained to provide CPR.

Few states require diagnostic medical sonographers to be licensed. Professional certification is typically required for licensure; other requirements vary by state. Contact state medical boards for more information.

Important Qualities

Detail oriented. Diagnostic imaging workers must follow precise instructions to obtain the images needed to diagnose and treat patients. They must also pay attention to the screen while scanning a patient’s body because the cues that contrast healthy areas with unhealthy ones may be subtle.

Hand-eye coordination. To get quality images, diagnostic imaging workers must be able to accurately move equipment on the patient’s body in response to what they see on the screen.

Interpersonal skills. Diagnostic imaging workers must work closely with patients. Sometimes patients are in extreme pain or mental stress, and they must get cooperation from the patient to create usable images.

Physical stamina. Diagnostic imaging workers are on their feet for long periods and must be able to lift and move patients who need assistance.

Technical skills. Diagnostic imaging workers must understand how to operate complex machinery and computerized instruments.

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Do you work as a Sonographer?

Average Yearly Salary
$79,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$36,000
Min 10%
$79,000
Median 50%
$79,000
Median 50%
$79,000
Median 50%
$79,000
Median 50%
$79,000
Median 50%
$79,000
Median 50%
$79,000
Median 50%
$170,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Aurora Health Care
Highest Paying City
Williston, ND
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
5.0 years
How much does a Sonographer make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Sonographer in the United States is $79,180 per year or $38 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $36,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $170,000.

Real Sonographer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Dedicated Lab Sonographer I, Research Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland Oakland, CA Jun 28, 2015 $111,550 -
$132,879
Dedicated Lab Sonographer I, Research Children's Hospital and Research Center Oakland Oakland, CA Jun 28, 2011 $104,050 -
$116,188
Dedicated Lab Sonographer I, Research Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland Oakland, CA Jun 28, 2010 $104,050 -
$118,809
Chief Obstetrical Sonographer-Fetal Therapy The Johns Hopkins Hospital Baltimore, MD Oct 06, 2014 $86,674
Sonographer Pro-Sound Portable Image Milwaukee, WI May 07, 2015 $80,725
Sonographer Pro-Sound Portable Image Milwaukee, WI Dec 11, 2015 $74,173
Sonographer Pro-Sound Portable Image Milwaukee, WI Jan 07, 2016 $74,173
Sonographer Carondelet Health Network Tucson, AZ Nov 08, 2011 $64,396
Research Sonographer Columbia University New York, NY Jun 23, 2011 $64,350
Clinical Research Sonographer University of Nebraska Medical Center Omaha, NE Dec 01, 2012 $60,062

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Top Skills for A Sonographer

  1. Invasive Procedures
  2. Small Parts
  3. Ultrasound
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Performed various ultrasound examinations including invasive procedures.
  • Performed abdomen, obstetrics and gynecology, and small parts ultrasound examinations.
  • Answered patient questions regarding various procedures, ultrasound exam, preoperative and postoperative care.
  • Performed high quality ultrasound procedures in the areas of abdomen, gynecology, breast, thyroid, testicular, and pediatrics
  • Performed ultrasound examinations for a mobile company and presented my findings to an interpreting Radiologist

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Top 10 Best States for Sonographers

  1. Alaska
  2. Hawaii
  3. Rhode Island
  4. Wisconsin
  5. New Hampshire
  6. Washington
  7. Massachusetts
  8. Maine
  9. Oregon
  10. Connecticut
  • (16 jobs)
  • (11 jobs)
  • (13 jobs)
  • (76 jobs)
  • (42 jobs)
  • (94 jobs)
  • (129 jobs)
  • (25 jobs)
  • (37 jobs)
  • (57 jobs)

Sonographer Resume Examples And Tips

The average resume reviewer spends between 5 to 7 seconds looking at a single resume, which leaves the average job applier with roughly six seconds to make a killer first impression. Thanks to this, a single typo or error on your resume can disqualify you right out of the gate. At Zippia, we went through over 5,496 Sonographer resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Create A Top Notch Sonographer Resume

View Resume Examples

Sonographer Demographics

Gender

Female

73.1%

Male

14.0%

Unknown

12.9%
Ethnicity

White

60.4%

Hispanic or Latino

15.7%

Black or African American

11.6%

Asian

7.7%

Unknown

4.6%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

57.3%

Russian

7.3%

Vietnamese

4.8%

Portuguese

4.8%

French

4.0%

Mandarin

2.4%

Ukrainian

2.4%

Chinese

2.4%

Hindi

1.6%

Cantonese

1.6%

Serbian

1.6%

German

1.6%

Urdu

1.6%

Arabic

1.6%

Sami

0.8%

Khmer

0.8%

Thai

0.8%

Uzbek

0.8%

Albanian

0.8%

Greek

0.8%
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Sonographer Education

Schools

Keiser University

12.5%

West Coast Ultrasound Institute

11.9%

Florida Institute of Ultrasound

8.0%

Rochester Institute of Technology

5.7%

Thomas Jefferson University

5.7%

American Institute of Medical Technology

4.9%

Argosy University-Twin Cities

4.5%

Triton College

4.5%

Austin Community College

4.5%

Oregon Institute of Technology

4.3%

Mountain State University

4.3%

Lansing Community College

3.7%

Montgomery College

3.5%

Brown University

3.3%

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

3.3%

Modern Technology School

3.3%

Hillsborough Community College

3.1%

University of Oklahoma-Health Sciences Center

2.9%

Institute of Ultrasound Diagnostics

2.9%

Sanford-Brown Institute - Landover

2.9%
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Majors

Medical Technician

81.2%

Health Sciences And Services

2.2%

Nuclear And Industrial Radiologic Technologies

2.1%

Business

2.1%

Clinical Psychology

1.3%

Biology

1.2%

Health Care Administration

1.2%

Medicine

1.1%

Nursing

0.9%

Medical Assisting Services

0.9%

Education

0.9%

Management

0.8%

Military Applied Sciences

0.7%

Liberal Arts

0.7%

Public Health

0.7%

Communication

0.6%

General Studies

0.4%

Health Education

0.4%

Health And Wellness

0.3%

Psychology

0.3%
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Degrees

Associate

38.7%

Bachelors

20.1%

Other

19.1%

Certificate

15.6%

Masters

3.2%

Diploma

2.7%

Doctorate

0.6%

License

0.1%
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Top Sonographer Employers

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