The Diagnostic medical sonographer is a career path with several points of entry and numerous specialties in which a sonographer may pursue. Many Universities and training colleges will offer two-year associate degrees in sonography in addition to four-year bachelor degrees in the specialty training area of your choice. The job availability and salary for each of these specialties will vary by specialty area and the needs of a specific regional area. Many employers will take into consideration whether or not an applicant’s training has come from an accredited program and if they are a registered sonographer within the state in which the practice. In addition to the two and four-year degrees, several hospitals and colleges offer a 1-year certification program that trains professionals in other healthcare fields in the basics of sonography. As a means for registered sonographers to increase their marketability, they may be able to obtain training in multiple specialty areas. For example, it is possible for a vascular sonographer to seek training in obstetric sonography, thus increasing their marketability when searching for employment.
Salary Ranges for Sonographers
Salaries for sonographers will vary by state and by the individual specializations of the registered sonographer; these are two of the biggest factors that influence earning potential. The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) certifies medical professionals who pass their certification exams as Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (RDMS), among other designations available. A sonographer may earn several different certifications in areas such as breast, abdomen, obstetrics, cardiac, and vascular sonography. According to the Occupational Employment Statistics Survey Program (OES) the median reported salary of a diagnostic medical sonographer was approximately $61,000 in 2008. The middle 50% of sonographers showed ranges of salaries between $52,000 and $73,000 a year. The lowest 10% of sonography jobs reported earned wages below $43,000 while the highest 10% reported earned wages in excess of $83,000. Of the medical diagnostic sonographers working within physicians’ offices and hospitals, the median income reported was $62,000.
Past Job Growth for Medical Diagnostic Sonographers
The Occupational Outlook Handbook states that there were approximately 50,000 sonography jobs in 2008, of which most consisted of jobs within private and public hospitals and clinics. Other jobs that sonographers have attained have been in outpatient care centers, medical and diagnostic laboratories and in the offices of private physicians.
Future Job Growth for Medical Diagnostic Sonographers
The Occupational Outlook Handbook anticipates a faster than average job growth for medical diagnostic sonographers during the next decade. The actual anticipated job growth in the sonography field is expected to be approximately 18% through 2018, a faster than average growth than most other occupations as a whole. One extenuating contributing toward job growth for medical diagnostic sonographers is the rapidly growing age of the population. There are now more adults over the age of 55 is rising rapidly and may one day outnumber the number of people under the age of 55. As the population ages it is assumed that the need for medical professions, including diagnostic imaging, will continue to rise. Another factor contributing to the overall job growth for medical diagnostic sonographers is the cost effectiveness of ultrasound imaging versus other radiological procedures currently used to examine and diagnose existing health conditions. The safety concerns surrounding radiological imaging are another factor aiding the growth of medical diagnostic sonographer careers. New, more accurate and cost-effective methods of sonogram imaging techniques may see an increase of the needs for medical diagnostic sonographers in hospitals and clinics during the next 5-10 years.
It is expected that hospitals will remain the primary employer for all medical diagnostic sonographers, though there is expected to see some expansion into private physician’s offices and medical laboratories.. The cost-effective nature of sonogram imaging has attracted third-party payers such as insurance companies causing the increased demand in hospitals and clinics for medical diagnostic sonographers. Overall job growth for the field looks promising, especially when the cost of education for such careers is taken into consideration. Since most colleges and universities off two and four-year certification and training programs in sonogram imaging, students pursuing these degrees can easily find a program ranging in the $20,000-35,000 range for completion of the degree. With the option to earn certifications in multiple areas of practice, a medical diagnostic sonographer may open up their career advancement opportunities and overall ability to gain employment by obtaining several of the available specialty certifications. Finally, a certification as a diagnostic medical sonographer may open up new career options for current members of the healthcare community such as nurses, respiratory therapists and other imaging specialists.