Sonography Salary & Career Outlook
Ultrasonography, commonly called sonography, is a diagnostic medical practice using high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to produce visual images of the inside of the body. When many people think of an ultrasound, they think of obstetrics, as sonographers typically show expecting parents the first images of their child during pregnancy, but the technology and practice can be applied in many other medical and diagnostic settings.
The outlook in this field is very favorable, and Bureau of Labor Statistics figures show growth in sonographer employment in the 2008-2018 decade. Job growth should vary geographically, with the most expansion expected in states with a high concentration of aging baby boomers. Right now, a high concentration of sonographers work in Florida, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Alabama, and New Mexico, and the top-paying states for this occupation are Massachusetts, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska.
What Do Sonographers Do?
Job duties for sonographers include:
- Explaining the procedure to patients and recording any relevant information
- Performing exams using special equipment called a transducer
- Analyzing test findings and reporting results to physicians
- Maintaining patient records and equipment
Sonographers can specialize in the imaging of a number of different body parts, including:
- Female reproductive system
- Brain and nervous system
- Vascular system and cardiac functions
Sonographer Training Online and On-Campus
Sonographers are skilled members of the medical community and advanced training is required. However, this training can be completed in as little as one year.
Sonographers can train in a variety of settings, including
- Vocational and technical institutions
- Colleges and universities, including some online programs
- The Armed Forces
Two-year programs in this field are most prevalent, with close to 70 percent of sonographers earning an associate's degree. However, there are a few one-year programs for those already working in the health care field. Sonographer training online is also offered by a number of institutions.
What Are Sonographer Salary Potentials?
According to information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual sonographer salary in 2009 was $63,010. The bottom 10 percent of those working in this field earned less than $43,990 and the top 10 percent earned more than $85,950. Information shows the mean sonographer salary in 2009 was above the national average in occupations requiring similar amounts of training.
Current figures from Salary.com, which are based on human resources reported data as of December 2010, show a median sonographer salary of $64,661.
While close to 60 percent of sonographers work in hospitals, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, many also work in physician's offices and diagnostic laboratories. According to information from Glassdoor.com, those who work in large health care facilities with 3,000 to 15,000 employees--including hospitals--are among the highest paid sonographers in the industry.