Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
Approximately 72,900 sonographers are employed in the United States. Seventy-eight percent of all sonographers work at hospitals. However, increasing employment opportunities exist in nursing homes, HMOs, medical and diagnostic laboratories, imaging centers, private physicians' offices, research laboratories, educational institutions, and industry.
Those interested in becoming diagnostic medical sonographers must complete a sonographic educational program such as one offered by teaching hospitals, colleges and universities, technical schools, and the armed forces. You should be sure to enroll in an accredited educational program, as those who complete such a program stand the best chances for employment.
Voluntary registration with the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) is key to gaining employment. Most employers require registration with ARDMS. Other methods of entering the field include responding to job listings in sonography publications, registering with employment agencies specializing in the health care field, contacting headhunters, or applying to the personnel offices of health care employers. The ARDMS offers a Web site, https://ultrasoundjobs.ardms.org, to help sonographers locate jobs in the field.
Many advancement opportunities are open to sonographers who have considerable experience and advanced education. Sonographers with a bachelor's degree stand the best chance to gain additional duties or responsibilities. Technical programs, teaching hospitals, colleges, universities, and, sometimes, in-house training programs can provide this further training. Highly trained and experienced sonographers can rise to the position of chief technologist, administrator, or clinical supervisor, overseeing sonography departments, choosing new equipment, and creating work schedules. Others may become sonography instructors, teaching ultrasound technology in hospitals, universities, and other educational settings. Other sonographers may gravitate toward marketing, working as ultrasound equipment sales representatives and selling ultrasound technology to medical clients. Sonographers involved in sales may market ultrasound technology for nonmedical uses to the plastics, steel, or other industries. Sonographers may also work as machinery demonstrators, traveling at the behest of manufacturers to train others in the use of new or updated equipment.
Sonographers may pursue advanced education in conjunction with or in addition to their sonography training. Sonographers may become certified in computer tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, nuclear medicine technology, radiation therapy, and cardiac catheterization. Others may become diagnostic cardiac sonographers or focus on specialty areas such as obstetrics/gynecology, neurosonography, peripheral vascular doppler, and ophthalmology.
Tips for Entry
Request an information interview with an experienced sonographer to gain insight into duties and responsibilities.
Arrange to visit a hospital, health maintenance organization, or other health care location to view the equipment and facilities used and to watch professionals at work.
Contact teachers at schools of diagnostic medical sonography about touring their educational facilities.
Volunteer at a hospital, nursing home, or similar facility to gain experience working in a medical setting.
Read the Journal of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (http://www.sdms.org/membership/JDMS) to learn more about the field.