Niche Careers: Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Growing up, you may have internalized the idea that being a doctor was among the most elite career choices. And if you started your career search in the 2020s, it’s possible you’ve further idolized healthcare professionals. 

But, if you’re squeamish,  looking for set hours, or hoping to just be a helping hand to those on the front lines, perhaps consider pursuing a career as a sonographer. 

It’s important to note that apart from watching 18 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy,  I am not a medical expert. I am, however, fascinated by the world of medicine and all the people and occupations that work in harmony to keep us healthy. 

Below is just one of the many unique, in demand, and fulfilling  jobs among the medical community. 

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

A medical sonographer is someone who operates ultrasound equipment. These individuals are key players in helping individuals get the right diagnosis. A sonographer cannot give a patient results or answers, but simply produces and records images of various parts of the body,  to help physicians make an accurate diagnosis. 

With ultrasound technology and sonographers, doctor’s are able to better monitor pregnancies, and examine a patient’s heart, abdomen, pelvis, and blood vessels, while checking  for medical disorders and cancers throughout the body.  Simply put, without sonographers it would be astronomically harder to identify cancerous tumors, investigate signs of cardiovascular disease, or search for signs of stroke in a neurology patient.

Why Sonography?

If years of medical school sounds daunting to you, but working behind a desk sounds boring, sonography might be the perfect compromise. For those interested in how  technology and medicine work cohesively, ultrasound technology is a fascinating tool.

Sonographers are silent heroes in the medical community, without whom, doctors would not be able to adequately provide high-quality patient care. 

Being a sohographer is the closest thing to having x-ray vision! Sonographers see everything live, providing patients with a non-invasive, mostly painless, and practically risk-free approach to medical testing. 

Oftentimes, the process of getting such tests can be overwhelming and scary. And medical sonographers perform a difficult balancing act of managing their patients’ fears, while refraining from giving medical advice. 

 One image from a sonographer can be the difference between life and death for a patient.

Expectations, Hours and Earnings

Apart from the actual imaging, sonographers may also perform tasks like: 

  • Taking patient history 
  • Preparing and maintaining medical equipment 
  • Determining ultrasound procedure 
  • Analyzing information 
  • Assisting radiologists 
  • Communicating and advocating for patients

Most full-time sonographers work 40 hours a week. However, like doctors, they may be on call at random hours and must always be prepared to work on short notice.

The average salary for a diagnostic medical sonographer in the United States is around $73,774 per year. However, top-level diagnostic medical sonographer earnings can be over $100,000 per year. 

Next Steps

If you’re a highschool student interested in a career as a sonographer, or similar occupations that combine tech and medicine, talk to your school counselor about taking more courses geared toward anatomy, physiology, physics and math.

For colleges and university age students, check for two or four year programs depending on your goals. Sonographers can also  earn  certifications  by passing a series of  exams. Certification specialties include abdominal, obstetrics/gynecology, vascular,  breast, pediatric, fetal/congenital echocardiography,  phlebology, and several other specialties. Most diagnostic medical sonographers have at least one certification, but many go on to obtain several more. 

If you’re serious about joining the medical field, do some further research. There’s guaranteed to be a place in the medical community that aligns with your interests. 

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