Diagnostic medical sonography is an occupation to which there are multiple
paths of entry. Formal education in sonography, training, or a combination of
these are accepted by employers. Employers do prefer sonographers who have
received education from an accredited program or completed training in an
accredited practice, and who are registered.
Education and training. There are several
avenues for entry into the field of diagnostic medical sonography. Sonographers
may train in hospitals, vocational-technical institutions, colleges or
universities, or the Armed Forces. Some training programs prefer applicants with
experience in other healthcare professions or high school graduates with courses
in mathematics, health, and science.
Colleges and universities offer formal training in both 2-year and 4-year
programs, resulting in either an associate or a bachelor's degree. Two-year
programs are the most prevalent. Coursework includes classes in anatomy,
physiology, instrumentation, basic physics, patient care, and medical ethics. In
2008, the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
accredited over 150 training programs. Accredited programs are offered by
colleges and universities. Some hospital programs are accredited as well.
A few 1-year programs that typically result in a vocational certificate also
are accepted as proper education by employers. These programs are useful usually
only for workers already employed in a healthcare occupation who seek to
increase their marketability by training in sonography. One-year
vocational-certificate programs are not accredited by the CAAHEP.
Certification and other qualifications. No
States require licensure in diagnostic medical sonography. However, sonographers
may become credentialed by one of the professional certifying bodies. Most
employers prefer to hire registered sonographers because registration provides
an objective measure of an individual's professional standing. To become
registered, one must first become eligible to take the examination by completing
the proper education, training, or work experience. The exam typically includes
a physics and instrumentation exam in a sonography specialty. Typically,
sonographers must complete a required number of continuing-education hours to
maintain registration. For specific details on credentialing, contact the
The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) certifies
each person who passes the exam as a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS).
This credential can be obtained for several different specialty areas like the
abdomen, breast, or nervous system. The ARDMS also credentials cardiac and
vascular sonographers. The American Registry of Radiologic Technologist offers
credentials in breast and vascular sonography. The Cardiovascular Credentialing
International credentials cardiac sonographers.
Sonographers should have good communication and interpersonal skills, because
they must be able to explain technical procedures and results to their patients,
some of whom may be nervous. Good hand-eye coordination is particularly
important to obtaining quality images. It is very important that sonographers
enjoy lifelong learning, because continuing education is crucial to workers in
the ever-changing field of diagnostic medicine.
Advancement. Sonographers can seek
advancement by obtaining competency in more than one specialty. For example,
obstetric sonographers might seek training in abdominal sonography to broaden
their opportunities and increase their marketability. Sonographers also may seek
multiple credentials—for example, being both a registered diagnostic medical
sonographer and a registered diagnostic cardiac sonographer.
Sonographers may advance by taking supervisory, managerial, or administrative
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,
Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition
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Diagnostic Medical Sonographer Employment
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