Sonographic image of a baby in the womb. Photo by Sam Pullara.
Education and Training: Associate's degree
M:F Ratio: 10:90
Hours worked per week: 40-50
Median Salary: $64,380
Lowest/Highest 10% Salary: $44,900/$88,490
Growth: Much faster than average
Diagnostic sonographers perform ultrasounds, using imaging equipment, to diagnose medical problems. As a sonographer, you will have to:
Sonographers can specialize in different parts of the body, including:
Doppler ultrasound analyzer of blood velocity produced by JSC "Bioss" (Zelenograd, Moscow, Russia). Photo by Yury Petrovich Masloboev.
Sonographers need an associate's degree form an accredited school.Many community and junior colleges offer associate's degree programs in sonography. In these programs, you will learn:
After graduating the program, you may want to take a certification test. Such a test may be included in your program of study, as a final exam.
Several agencies offer certification tests. Check with your school of choice to see which certifications they offer, or scroll to the bottom of this page to see several certification options.
At present, only two states require you to be licensed. They are:
To become licensed, you must enroll in an accredited program at a university or hospital. After completing the program, you must complete an exam demonstrating your competence in the field. State agencies are required to recognize national credentials, such as AARDS. See the SDMS's FAQ on the New Mexico law.
People with degrees in related medical fields, such as nursing, may be able to become a sonographer by taking a one-year sonography program. These programs build on your previous training and knowledge, while teaching you about sonography and how to use sonographic equipment.
A few colleges offer bachelor's degree programs in sonography. Completing a bachelor's degree may allow you to advance in your career, and take on more advanced jobs in the field, such as imaging supervisor.
If you get an associate's degree from an accredited school, your credits from your associate's degree will transfer to a bachelor's program in sonography.
As in nursing, aspiring sonographers can get an associate's degree, work, then go back to school for two years to get a bachelor's degree.
All sonographers have to work with a team of healthcare professionals, including physicians. You must also work with patients who may be stressed, worried, anxious or frightened.
A good sonographer must:
You must also stay on top of any technical innovations in your field, and know how to handle different sonographic equipment.
Job growth for diagnostic medical sonographers is projected to be much faster than average. In the coming decades, several trends will help create greater demand for diagnostic sonographers, mainly:
Salary graph by Greg Dash. Click here to see a larger version.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a diagnostic medical sonographer is $64,380. The top 10% of sonographers make $88,490, while the bottom 10% make $44,900.
Other estimates for a sonographer's average salary vary. In the above graph, the highest estimate for an average salary is $75,401. The lowest average salary is estimated at $59,527. The average of all of these is $65,901––remarkably close to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' estimate.
For more information, including info about high-salary areas and job benefits, see our salary page for this job.
Find out if your local community or junior college runs an associate's degree program that will qualify you to become a sonographer. Some state universities may also offer programs in sonography.
Read our salary page for more information on average salaries, locations with the highest average wage, benefits, and more. On this page, you can also find out what the average salary is in your area.
Browse your certification options. They include: