As of 2011, many careers in the field of medicine have a good outlook, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Demand for experienced health professionals is expected to remain high at least through 2018. Diagnostic medical sonography, which is the use of sound waves to produce images of the inside of the body, is one of these fields. Deciding whether it's the right one for you depends on your personality, your interest in the medical field, whether the money is right for you and your willingness to complete the educational requirements.
Is Sonography Right for You?
Consider whether or not you enjoy the field of medicine. In 2008, 59 percent of sonographers worked in hospitals, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the people who come to sonographers aren't just pregnant women. Diagnostic medical sonographers check for disease or abnormality in the abdomen, breasts, heart, female reproductive system, brain, spinal cord and eyes. Sonographers may witness human pain, fear and sadness as well as unpleasant sights.
Consider the educational requirements. The most popular educational path to medical sonography is an associate's degree earned at a vocational or technical college, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Associate degrees take two years to earn, though pre-requisite courses may have to be completed before the degree program is started, depending on your skill set. There are also bachelor's degree programs as well as a one-year certificate program, but the certificate generally goes to people who are already medical professionals and who are adding sonography to their field of expertise.
Determine whether you are physically able to do the work. Though medical sonographers usually work in clean and well-lit work areas, they also spend 80 percent of their time on their feet, according to the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers. They must also be able to lift in excess of 50 pounds on a regular basis, help patients on and off exam tables, be able to hear clearly, be able to distinguish colors, have empathy for the sick or injured and be able to communicate effectively with patients. Coordination and organization skills are also a must, as a sonographer must be able to complete the exam in a logical series of steps.
Decide if the money is right for you. In 2010, the mean income for sonographers was $31.20 an hour, or $64,900 a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. California employed the highest number of sonographers of any state, where the average pay was $77,260 a year. Massachusetts ranked as the highest-paying state for sonographers that year, at $80,000 a year, while San Jose, California was the highest-paying city, where the average pay was $100,240 a year.
Tips & Warnings
- Sonographers who specialize in one or more aspects of their field earn more money than those who generalize, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Medical sonographers may have to work overtime, evenings, weekends and holidays, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the average amount of overtime sonographers have to work is three hours a week, according to the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers.
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