Sonographers, also known as diagnostic medical sonographers, operate ultrasound equipment to help diagnose medical conditions. These healthcare professionals work directly with patients. They are sometimes the first to discover bad news about patients. Sonographers may learn responsibilities through on-the-job training or receive formal training through a songraphy program that can lead to either an associate's degree or bachelor's degree.
The PayScale website lists the starting salary of diagnostic medical sonographers. In October 2010, diagnostic medical sonographers with less than one year experience earned $35,000 to $50,563.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, annual wages for diagnostic medical sonographers ranged from approximately $43,990 to $85,950 in May 2009. The lowest 10 percent of employees earn less than $43,990 and the top 10 percent of employees earn more than $85,950. Entry-level diagnostic medical sonographers can expect to earn the lower part of the scale; more experienced diagnostic medical sonographers may earn more.
Entry-level employees may want to apply for a job within an industry that employs a high number of diagnostic medical sonographers. General medical and surgical hospitals employed the largest number of diagnostic medical sonographers with an average annual salary of $63,770, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2009. Other industries that employed large numbers were: the offices of physicians, $63,820; medical and diagnostic laboratories, $61,820; outpatient care centers, $64,560; and colleges, universities and professional schools, $66,250.
Top Paying Industries
Entry-level diagnostic medical sonographers may want to apply to a high-paying industry. The employment services industry paid the highest average annual salary above all other industries to diagnostic medical sonographers, with $68,020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2009. Other industries that offered high pay were: the management of companies and enterprises, $67,890; speciality hospitals, except psychiatric and substance abuse, $67,070; colleges, universities and professional schools, $66,250; and outpatient care centers, $64,560.
Top Paying Locations
An entry-level diagnostic medical sonographer may want to consider moving to a top-paying state for a potentially higher income. Massachusetts paid the highest average annual salary above all other locations to diagnostic medical sonographers, with $78,460, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2009. Other places that offered high pay were: Oregon, $78,320; Colorado, $77,380; Washington, $76,980; and Alaska, $75,500.