Sonographers are the doctors of the medical imaging field. They use sound waves to create images of structures inside the body, such as organs and blood vessels. As a result, they are an important member of any healthcare team. Sonography is a great career choice for those who want to make a difference in health care but don’t necessarily want to become physicians. Let’s take a closer look at what sonography is all about
1. What Is Sonography?
Sonography uses sound waves to create an image of internal organs or other structures. This may be done by examining the object between the sound source and a detector in medical ultrasonography or by transmitting acoustic energy through it, as in industrial ultrasonography. The term “ultrasonics” generally refers to any non-contact method for measuring distances using sound waves that are not audible to humans (i.e., above 20 kHz).
Sonographic images can be created either with real-time scanning (also called live scanning), where the technician manipulates hand controls while looking at a video monitor; or with recorded scanning (also called stored scanning) where someone else sets up the equipment and initial conditions, such as time and display parameters.
Industrial ultrasonic testing (colloquially referred to as UT or PT for Proof Test) manufactures all types of components in industries, including electronics, automotive, aerospace, marine, medical prostheses, etc. It’s also used in fields that require nondestructive testing of a part or product, such as evaluating welds in pipe or pressure vessels. In the case of weld inspection, the wave emitted from the transducer must travel to and from a weld point. Suppose a defect is present on the surface being scanned. In that case, it will reflect some of the energy to the transducer, where sensors will convert the information into an audio signal of lower or higher pitch, depending on defect size.
2. How Do You Become a Sonographer?
Sonographers are medical specialists who use sound waves to create images of the body’s organs, tissues, and vessels. Sonography is a discipline of radiology that creates an image on a screen or monitor using high-frequency sound waves.
Sonography is often called “ultrasound” because it operates at frequencies beyond those audible to humans (20 kilohertz). Ultrasounds are used in fields other than medicine, such as industrial nondestructive testing and cleaning metal parts that can’t be reached by hand. These machines work with various wavelengths depending on the application: from 1mm down to 0.001mm, depending on the depth desired or type of machine being employed.
To become a sonographer, you need to earn a certificate in medical imaging. You can specialist on prenatal ultrasounds, echo cardiograms, or breast checks, among other things, depending on your area of interest. You will then have to complete an accredited program that includes classroom instruction and clinical experience. Typically, programmer last anywhere from six months to two years. It’s important to consider the time and cost involved when researching schools because these vary widely.
To gain entry into a program, you must complete undergraduate education or training in biology, human anatomy, and physiology. Schools may require certain prerequisites, so it is best to start this process before applying.
See the list of accredited programs below:
- American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography
- National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences
- American Medical Technologists – AMT
- Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiological Technology
- Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
3. What Are the Benefits of Being a Sonographer?
There are numerous advantages to working as a sonographer. Some of these benefits include:
- You will have the ability to help people through their pregnancies and deliver healthy babies.
- You will be able to use the latest technologies to help diagnose medical conditions.
- You will have a rewarding career that helps others.
- You will be able to work full-time or part-time as your schedule allows.
- You will have the ability to choose where you want to work.
- You may be eligible for certification that helps advance your career.
- Depending on the facility you are working for, you may receive benefits such as paid vacation, insurance, and access to continuing education.
- You will be able to meet new people and make friends.
- You will have the opportunity to help families through one of the most joyous times in their lives.
- You will have the satisfaction of knowing that you are making a difference in someone’s life.
4. What Are the Drawbacks of Being a Sonographer?
There are many drawbacks to being a sonographer. Some of these include long hours, working on your feet all day, exposure to radiation, and dealing with dissatisfied patients.
Sonographers are expected to work at least forty hours each week on average, more if the sonographer works in a hospital or imaging center that provides 24-hour coverage through the use of rotating shifts. It is not unusual for sonographers to work fifty or sixty hours per week during busy periods such as summer vacation and the end-of-the-year holidays.
Working on your feet all-day
Because sonographers spend their working hours standing, it is important that they have comfortable shoes and the stamina to stand for several hours per day.
Exposure to radiation
Those who work with ultrasound equipment are exposed to a small amount of radiation each day.
Dealing with dissatisfied patients
Dissatisfied patients are very difficult to deal with, and the sonographer is often blamed for any negative experience a patient has during an ultrasound exam. However, it is important that sonographers not take these experiences personally as they occur regularly. Most doctors consider a negative experience with an ultrasound exam to be a crucial learning experience for the patient and often provide them with more information than required at their next appointment.
5. What Types of Services Do Sonographers Provide?
There are four main types of diagnostic medical sonography services: obstetrical/gynecological (OB/GYN), pediatric echocardiography, vascular, and abdominal. Obstetrical and Gynecology sonography is used to evaluate the female reproductive system and prepare images for physician review, including images of the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and cervix Pregnant women can also have ultrasounds to track their baby’s development as the pregnancy progresses. Pediatric echocardiography uses ultrasound to look inside the heart. With vascular sonography, an ultrasound device is used to create a view inside blood vessels that help physicians diagnose blockages and clots, which can cause poor circulation. Abdominal sonography evaluates the kidneys, liver, gallbladder, and pancreas to detect any problems or abnormalities present.
6. What Is the Average Salary for a Sonographer?
The average salary for a sonographer is about $50,000. This may vary depending on the experience of the sonographer, as well as the location of the practice. Sonographers in the New York area make about $53,000 per year, and Sonographers in Texas average about $43,000.
A sonographer typically earns money by working hourly in a medical setting such as a doctor’s office or hospital. A full-time salary for a sonographer usually depends on the number of hours worked in a week. A sonographer who works 40 hours per week can expect to earn about $20 per hour.
7. How Long Does It Take to Earn Your Degree in Sonography?
Sonographers must have an associate’s degree in diagnostic medical sonography, ultrasound, or echocardiography. However, some states require that sonographers have bachelor’s degrees to work. An accrediting body called the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) must accredit the school you attend.
The time taken to earn a degree in sonography varies depending on the program. You can typically earn an associate degree or bachelor’s degree in approximately two or three years. Even so, depending on the classes your institution offers credit hours, it may take longer.
8. What Are Some Qualities of a Sonographer?
Sonographers must be detail-oriented and have an eye for details, as they are responsible for creating images that physicians use to diagnose conditions. They also need strong communication skills to relay information about the images they create to physicians. Sonographers must work both on their own and in a team environment and need excellent hand-eye coordination and physical dexterity since the sonographer is the one using the ultrasound probe during ultrasounds.
Sonographers need good comprehensive knowledge of anatomy to create images. They also must work long hours standing on their feet, so it is helpful if sonographers are physically fit. Many hospitals require that the sonographer works two 12-hour shifts, at least one weekend day per month, and attend some night classes during the week.
9. Cost of Studying Sonography
The cost of studying sonography can vary depending on the institution you choose. Some schools offer scholarships and financial aid, while others do not. The cost of sonography equipment and supplies can also be expensive, so be sure to budget for that.
The expenses associated with earning a sonography degree include tuition and fees, books and supplies, housing and meals, transportation costs, professional licensing fees, equipment, and uniforms. Some students may also have to take a loan or work a full-time job to support their family while earning the degree. The average national yearly pay for a sonographer with a bachelor’s degree is $64,160, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
So, the total can go up to 80k depending on your company and location.
10. Is Sonography a Stable Career?
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this issue, as the stability of each career is determined by a variety of factors, including the economy, industry, and personal circumstances. However, sonography is a relatively stable field, and there are many opportunities for sonographers to find work both in the United States and around the world. In addition, the field of ultrasound is continually growing and evolving to meet the needs of a changing health care industry.
11. Different Job Opportunities Available in This Field
There are many different job opportunities available in the field of ultrasound. Sonographers can work in various settings, including hospitals, clinics, doctor’s offices, and research labs. They may also choose to specialize in a particular area of ultrasound, such as obstetrics/gynecology, cardiology, or pediatrics. Additionally, there are many opportunities for sonographers to work abroad.
following are the different job positions one can go for in this branch
There are a variety of different job titles that a sonographer can choose. The following list includes some common titles and what they entail:
. Ultrasonographer: This is the entry-level position that most sonographers start with, which consists of performing ultrasounds on patients, analyzing them, and reporting findings to the appropriate person.
. Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS): RDMS is a more specialized position, requiring six years of education and training beyond the undergraduate level. To receive this designation, they must pass a rigorous board exam and perform at an expert level.
. Cardiac Sonographer: This title indicates that the individual is trained in the technical aspects of cardiac ultrasound, including performing echo cardiograms.
. Vascular Sonographer: Avascular sonographer performs ultrasounds on a patient’s veins and arteries.
Sonographers usually work a 40-hour week, but they may need to stay late or arrive at unusual hours depending on their shift assignments. Most sonographers work in a healthcare facility.
12. Top Recruiting Companies for the Sonographer
Several companies are always on the lookout for qualified sonographers. Some of the top recruiters in the field include:
- GE Healthcare
- St. Luke’s Hospital
- Mayo Clinic
- Dignity Health
- Catholic Health Initiatives
- Christiana Care Health System
- UVM Medical Center
- Wake Forest Baptist Health
- Porter Adventist Hospital
13. Best Colleges to Study Sonography
If you’re interested in a sonography career, you’ll need to find a good college that offers sonography courses. Here are a few of the best colleges to study sonography:
1. University of Cincinnati – The University of Cincinnati offers an excellent sonography program that will prepare you for a career in this field.
2. Drexel University – Drexel University is another great option if you want to study sonography. They offer a comprehensive program that will give you the skills you need to succeed.
3. Duke University – Duke University offers a top-notch sonography program that will help you develop the skills you need to work in this field.
4. Vanderbilt University – Vanderbilt University offers a sonography program designed to help students become skilled professionals. If you want to study sonography, this college offers one of the best programs available.
5. University of North Carolina Chapel Hill – The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has an excellent sonography program that includes courses in the medical field and ultrasound training.
6. Texas State University – This university offers a program that teaches all aspects of sonography plus allows students to develop other crucial skills, including patient care and communication.
7. SUNY Albany – The College of Saint Rose in Albany has an excellent sonography program that will prepare you for a successful career in this field.
Ultrasound technician schools are popping up all over the country as sonography becomes an increasingly popular career choice. The ultrasound field is growing rapidly, and with good reason: it’s a fulfilling and lucrative career that doesn’t require years of schooling. If you want to become an ultrasound technician, there are many great schools to choose from, but be sure to do your research, so you find one that fits your needs. And if you already have a degree in another area, don’t worry – there are plenty of accredited ultrasound technician programs that will accept you without having to start from scratch. So what are you waiting for? Start researching today and see if this exciting and rewarding career is right for you!