Diagnostic Medical Sonographer Jobs

Training and Education Jobs and Salaries

Diagnostic medical sonographers hold over 45,000 jobs. More than half of all sonographer jobs are in public and private hospitals. The rest are typically in offices of physicians, medical and diagnostic laboratories, and mobile imaging services. Employment of diagnostic medical sonographers is expected to increase by about 19 percent through 2016 which is faster than the average for all occupations. Due to the increase in median population age the demand for diagnostic imaging and therapeutic technology is growing. Additional job growth is expected as sonography becomes an increasingly attractive alternative to radiologic procedures as patients seek safer treatment methods.

Unlike most diagnostic imaging methods, sonography does not involve radiation, so harmful side effects and complications from repeated use are less likely for both the patient and the sonographer. Sonographic technology is expected to evolve rapidly and to spawn many new sonography procedures, such as 3D and 4D sonography for use in obstetric and ophthalmologic diagnosis however, high costs and approval by the Federal Government may limit the rate at which some promising new technologies are adopted.

Hospitals will remain the principal employer of diagnostic medical sonographers. However, employment is expected to grow more rapidly in offices of physicians and in medical and diagnostic laboratories, including diagnostic imaging centers. Healthcare facilities such as these are expected to grow very rapidly through 2016 because of the strong shift toward outpatient care, encouraged by third-party payers and made possible by technological advances that permit more procedures to be performed outside the hospital. Job opportunities should be favorable. In addition to job openings from growth, some openings will arise from the need to replace sonographers who retire or leave the occupation permanently for some other reason. Pain caused by musculoskeletal disorders has made it difficult for sonographers to perform well. Some are forced to leave the occupation early because of this disorder.

Sonographers typically work in health care facilities that are clean. They usually work at diagnostic imaging machines in darkened rooms, but also may perform procedures at patients bedsides. Sonographers may be on their feet for long periods of time and may have to lift or turn disabled patients. In addition, the nature of their work can put sonographers at an increased risk for musculoskeletal disorders such as carpel tunnel syndrome, neck and back strain, and eye strain: however, greater use of ergonomic equipment and an increasing awareness will continue to minimize such risks. Some sonographers work as contract employees and may travel to several health care facilities in an area.

Similarly, some sonographers work with mobile imaging service providers and travel to patients and use mobile diagnostic imaging equipment to provide service in areas that otherwise do not have the access to such services. Most full-time sonographers work about 40 hours a week. Hospital-based sonographers may have evening and weekend hours and times when they are on call and must be ready to report to work on short notice.

Median annual earnings of diagnostic medical sonographers are around $57,000. The middle 50 percent earn between $48,890 and $67,670 a year. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $40,960, and the highest 10 percent earn more than $77,520. Median annual earnings of diagnostic medical sonographers are about $57,000 in offices of physicians and in general medical and surgical hospitals.