Where will I work in my sonography career?
There are a variety of jobs in sonography available when you complete your certification. Most careers take place in a hospital or clinic setting and require on-site work with little possibility for telecommuting, and sonographers typically work with other medical professionals such as doctors and nurses. However, you can also have a career in an imaging clinic, public health facility or private physician’s practice. Your future workplace will largely depend on your specialization as a sonographer.
Sonography jobs include diagnostic sonography, in which sonographers aid in diagnosing a variety of diseases such as heart conditions, stroke, cancer and pregnancy complications. Diagnostic sonography also deals with obstetrics, gynecology and neurosonology. Sonography careers also include research and teaching positions.
A graduate of traditional or online sonography programs can expect a career as a registered diagnostic sonographer, which is also known as an ultrasonographer, ultrasound technologist or ultrasound technician. If you graduate from a traditional program and can find a hospital to train you, you can find employment as a cardiac sonographer or echocardiographic technician.
How long does it take to find a job in sonography?
Jobs in sonography are very much in demand today. Job growth projections for a career in sonography are much higher than the national average, and the job outlook over the next decade shows a 44% growth increase. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that 23,400 new sonography jobs will be created between 2010 and 2020, so it is a career that is very much in demand.
Because the use of ultrasound technology in medicine is increasing, the demand for certified sonographers, whether graduates of traditional colleges or those holding online degrees in sonography, will also increase. As long you finish a program accredited by CAAHEP and are certified, you should have no problems finding a sonography job soon after graduation. In addition, thanks to required clinical hours, many recent graduates are able to find jobs immediately at the hospital or clinic where they received their clinical training.
How have sonography careers changed over the years?
Although ultrasound technology has existed for quite some time, the use of sonography in medicine is a fairly recent development. The first use of diagnostic sonography in the United States was recorded in the 1940s in Maryland. However, sonography was initially seen as a cure-all rather than as a diagnostic method, and doctors or scientists would operate the ultrasound devices rather than trained sonographers like today.
The occupation of sonographer was invented in the 1950s by Joan Baker, a pioneer in diagnostic sonography. At that time the ultrasound was just starting to be used on the heart, but the images looked very different than they do today, primarily because they were 2-dimensional and not in real time. It was not until the 1990s that sonography technology began to resemble today’s with the introduction of real-time 3-D and 4-D imaging.
In the early days, ultrasound machines were large and not very portable, which limited the workplaces of sonographers to hospitals and laboratories. Over the years, the devices became smaller as technology improved, and today there are even sonographers in the battlefield with portable devices.
What are the top employers for sonography jobs?
In general, the best employers for sonography jobs are large corporations and hospitals due to their stability, pay rates and job prospects. If you’re most interested in earning a higher salary, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the average highest-paying sonography job is for an outpatient care center ($69,740), followed by private physician offices ($64,560), hospitals ($64,440) and medical and diagnostic laboratories ($62,290).
There is little difference in the salaries of sonographers who received their degrees from accredited online degree programs and those who received their degrees from traditional universities, provided that they are certified.
A certification from a professional sonography organization such as the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography or the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists will go a long way in ensuring that you are hired by a top employer. A certification makes you more attractive in the higher-paying competitive marketplace.