If you’ve welcomed a baby into your family (or have seen your cousin’s nonstop Facebook updates about her pregnancy), you’re probably familiar with the basics of what a sonographer does: he or she takes pictures of a fetus in utero. What you may not know is that sonographers aren’t just involved in the pregnancy process. They use equipment to diagnose a variety of medical conditions throughout the body, including the abdomen, chest, cardiovascular system, and the musculoskeletal system.
Diagnostic medical sonographers are essential medical professionals as the medical technology field continues to develop and give us even clearer glimpses into the furthest reaches of our bodies.
Sonographers work one-on-one with patients, using imaging equipment (often in concert with x-rays, MRIs, CAT scans, and nuclear medicine studies) to help diagnose and treat internal medical injuries and illnesses. They are usually found in hospitals, but may also work in private clinics or other specialized healthcare settings. Diagnostic medical sonographers generally work full-time (typically 37 hours or more per week), but may have evening and weekend shifts instead of a standard Monday-Friday schedule. They are frequently on call, and should be ready to work on short notice when needed.
For more on the daily life of a sonographer, check out this video: So You Want to Be a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer.
Diagnostic medical sonographers should have strong backgrounds in math and science, with an associate’s degree or higher preferred—though some employers may hire directly from high school and provide on-the-job training. Two-year programs for sonography are commonly found at colleges and universities, and if you’re interested you should seek out a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. Depending on where you live, diagnostic medical sonographers might also need to be certified—so definitely check your state’s requirements.
The dental hygiene field calls for a number of special skills and knowledge bases, including:
- Attention to detail
- Equipment knowledge and everyday use
- Diagnostic/analytical skills
- Clinical knowledge
- Interpersonal skills
- Communication skills
- Patient care techniques
Per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for diagnostic medical sonographers is $62,540, or $30.07 per hour. And according to PayScale, the field has a very strong job satisfaction rating among surveyed sonographers.
Diagnostic medical sonography is a field that will be recruiting heavily for the foreseeable future. The BLS expects that the job will grow by at least 24% by 2024, much faster than average.
If you decide to go into this rewarding healthcare field, great! Just don’t be like this medical professional, okay?