How To Become a Medical Sonographer

female medical sonographer viewing ultrasound image

Across the country, there are more than 130,000 sonographers working in medical facilities providing essential diagnostic information. These medical professionals play an essential role in helping to give the best care possible to all patients. A medical sonographer is really one of the unsung heroes of the healthcare community.  

This healthcare career path is continually becoming a more and more popular option for new graduates and those looking for a change. And with so many benefits, it's not hard to see why. 

If you've ever been curious about being an ultrasound tech, how to get there, and what your options might be, this is the place for you. We've created a full guide with everything you need to know to get started! 

Job Responsibilities

Before deciding to become a sonographer, it's important to understand exactly what that job will entail and what the responsibilities are. 

There are several different types of medical imaging but point of care ultrasound is when the technician uses a machine to see inside the body to help diagnose issues. Depending on the type of ultrasound machine, the tech can see in various levels of the body. Some focus on the muscles while others on organs or blood flow. 

As a sonographer, you'll be responsible for everything to do with the ultrasound procedure. That will include getting the patient in the right position, viewing the area in question on the machine, and taking the photos. 

You may also be required to do some patient intake procedures like weighing the patient, taking blood pressure, or find other vital signs. 

Most likely, you'll also be responsible for keeping the equipment clean and ready to be used again in the future. As well as the procedure room you used. 

Education Requirements

Even though many people think the healthcare industry would be a great place to work, they often avoid it because of the idea that it will take too much education to get started. Many healthcare careers do require several years of programs but an ultrasound technician degree is a much quicker process than others. 

The first step to becoming an ultrasound tech is to receive your high school diploma. From there, you can find a college or university that offers an ultrasound program where you can get a degree in diagnostic medical sonography. 

These programs are specific for the type of ultrasounds you want to do; cardiovascular or obstetric for example. The specialty will determine how long the program is, but generally, it lasts between one and two years. These programs also require some hands-on portion that often includes a type of internship in a healthcare facility. 

Once education is completed, you'll have to take a licensing exam that is specific for your state to be able to practice. 

Most states will also require additional training throughout your career to make sure your skills stay current. Places like POCUS ultrasound offer several online courses that can work towards those requirements. 

Career Options 

The field of ultrasound is so wide and vast with so many applications, there's truly a spot for everyone no matter where their interest lies!

Ultrasound machines are used to look at blood vessels and arteries to check for clots and blood flow. They're also used to look for tears, strains, and damage of muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Some providers check out hearts or other organs to see if they're functioning properly. And no one can forget the regular check-ups women have during pregnancy. 

Each field requires slightly different skills and techniques which keeps things interesting. When you enter this field you can look around to find the area of study that best interests you, which is something that is definitely unique to this industry and career. 

Compensation Averages 

It's easy to assume that with such a short education requirement and so many specialty opportunities that the compensation for being an ultrasound tech wouldn't be great. But the good news is, that's a totally wrong assumption!

The average salary for a sonographer in a healthcare facility is almost $79,000 per year. And many make much more than that! 

Obviously, each position will have a unique salary attached which is influenced by the needs of the area, the experience of the technician, and what their specialty is. This makes it so that you can look around for a variety of opportunities until you find the one that will work best for you. 

Qualities for Success

After a short amount of time researching medical imaging, it's easy to see why it's become such a popular career and how valuable these skills are to the medical community. 

But it's important to realistically evaluate how well you and your personality will fit into this career before diving in!

Those who are successful sonographers have a calm, confident personality. They can make their patients feel safe and secure as they await the results of the test. It's helpful to be outgoing and have the ability to strike up a conversation with anyone. 

As an ultrasound tech, you'll also need to be able to do more than one thing at a time. To do the exam properly, you'll be using your instrument, while checking the images on the screen, and evaluating what you're seeing. Add in documenting what you find and interacting with the patient and their loved ones. 

It's a busy job but a very highly rewarding one if it's the right fit for you!

Become a Medical Sonographer

The healthcare community is a great place to build a career. There's little that's more satisfying than knowing you've made a difference in someone's life, helping them be healthier and happier. But it can be intimidating and overwhelming to get into this career path sometimes. 

That's why becoming a medical sonographer is a great option for many. There won't be years and years of education, training, and interning. You can quickly move through your education and get starting practicing in no time!

If you're interested in learning more about the healthcare industry, check out our article selection! 


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