How to Become a

Sonographer

The complete career guide to be a Sonographer: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $70,880
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 26.4%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Dependable Daily Workload
    Career Attribute

Sonographers use ultrasound technology to obtain images of an individual’s internal organs and tissues. They may work for an OBGYN, capturing images and video of pregnant mothers and their unborn babies, or they may work for hospitals or specialists and assist with the diagnosis of medical conditions.


What is a Sonographer?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in sonographer roles:

  • Operate ultrasound equipment to capture images and video
  • Prepare patients for ultrasound procedures and explain the process of sonography
  • Ensure required images are captured for proper diagnosis of problem areas
  • Identify abnormalities in captured images

A Day in the Life

Sonographers work for doctors, specialists, and hospitals. They take ultrasounds, ensure images captured are sufficient for reporting and diagnosis, and consult with doctors on ultrasound findings. While most people think of sonographers as individuals who take images of unborn babies, ultrasounds are also commonly used a diagnosis tool when serious health issues are suspected. Sonographers work with patients, explain procedures, and share findings with physicians to help diagnose issues.

Sonographers that work for OBGYNs do more than just record images and help identify the gender of unborn children. Ultrasounds performed on expecting mothers are important diagnosis and monitoring tools used to ensure unborn babies are healthy and developing as expected. While getting an ultrasound is an exciting event for the expecting parents, the sonographer is hard at work looking for potential complications, congenital defects, or signs of improper development.

Sonographers who work for specialists or hospitals play an important part in helping to identify and diagnose health issues and record ultrasound images of major organs like the heart, gallbladder, liver, and kidneys as well as blood vessels and tissues. Sonographers ensure that images captured are sufficient for diagnosis and interpret their findings to physicians to assist in diagnosis. Additionally, sonographers may be responsible for setting up and cleaning the equipment used to perform their work.

Typical Work Schedule

Sonographers who work for doctors, specialists, and OBGYNs generally work normal business hours and have major holidays off. Sonographers who work in hospitals or emergency rooms may need to work evenings, overnight, weekends, and holidays to ensure coverage for incoming patients at all times.

Projected Job Growth

Ultrasounds are being used much more frequently in recent years than in the past as a replacement for more invasive diagnostic procedures, so the demand for sonographers is expected to be well above average in the coming decade.

Sonographer Specializations

Sonography specializations are the type of ultrasounds a sonographer studies to perform. A sonographer’s specialization dictates the type of doctor’s offices he/she will work in professionally. Below are a few examples:

  • OBGYN sonographers take ultrasounds of expecting mothers to ensure that unborn babies are developing as expected and that there is no apparent cause for concern about the baby’s health.
  • Abdominal sonographers take ultrasound images of major organs found in the abdominal area—kidneys, livers, and pancreases—and interpret images to assist with diagnosis.
  • Musculoskeletal sonographers take ultrasounds of muscles, ligaments, and joints to diagnose issues or assist physicians in administering medication to injured areas.

Typical Employers

Sonographers most commonly work for OBGYN offices, specialist doctor’s offices, and hospitals.


How To Become a Sonographer

Three different educational paths are available for becoming a sonographer. For individuals who have healthcare experience prior to becoming a sonographer, certificate programs may be available that allow for sonography training that requires fewer credit hours than degree programs. For individuals who have no prior healthcare experience, an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in sonography is usually the preferred education route.

While the certificate or degree pursued may be flexible, it’s critical to find a program that’s accredited. Most employers will only hire sonographers that have received their education in a program that’s accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. After finding and choosing an accredited program, you can work with admissions, academic, or career counselors at your chosen school to determine which amount of education is right for your career goals.

Sonographers are required to take courses to earn their sonography certification as well as participate in many hours of clinical training at a doctor’s office or hospital. Some states also require sonographers to be licensed, so check the requirements in your state to determine expectations for working in the field. Additionally, many employers will expect sonographers to become registered diagnostic medical sonographers by taking specialty exams administered by organizations like the ARDMS or ARRT.


Sonographer Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range

$57,100

Average

$70,880

High Range

$97,390

National Hourly Wage

Low Range

$27/hr

Average

$34/hr

High Range

$47/hr

How do Sonographer salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Sonographer's can make an average annual salary of $70,880, or $34 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $57,100 or $27 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #192 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally


Highest Education Among Sonographers

  • 1.8%   Doctorate
  • 1.9%   Masters
  • 22%   Bachelors
  • 44.3%   Associates
  • 21.8%   College
  • 7.4%   High School
  • 0.7%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs

60,700

2024 Est. Jobs

76,700

Job Growth Rate

26.4%

Est. New Jobs

16,000

How does Sonographer job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 16,000 jobs for a total of 76,700 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 26.4% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #24 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally


What Companies Employ The Most Sonographers

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
General medical and surgical hospitals; private 31,100 5,500 6%
Offices of physicians 14,900 5,200 5%
Medical and diagnostic laboratories 6,100 2,800 3%

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