Choosing to become a sonographer is an excellent decision to make. It is one of the most valuable medical professions and plays a crucial role in society. However, as I learned in the early years of my career as a sonographer, there are things you need to know before you begin this journey. After spending several years in this field, I have compiled a list of seven important truths you must be aware of before becoming a sonographer. Let’s go!
1. Sonography Is Not Just About Pregnancies
When sonography or ultrasound is mentioned, the first thing that comes to the mind of the average person is a pregnant mother getting to see the images of her baby (obstetric sonography). Yet, there is so much more to sonography than this. Should you decide to become a sonographer, there are so many fields that you can specialize in, including:
- NeuroSonography – Deals with the brain and nervous system.
- Echocardiography – Deals with the heart, especially its valves, walls and chambers.
- Abdominal Ultrasonography – Deals with the abdomen
- Breast Sonography – Deals with the breast
- Vascular Sonography – Deals with the heart but is usually noninvasive.
- Musculoskeletal Sonography – Deals with the muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons.
When considering sonography as a career, you should explore the various specializations and select the one that best fits your passion, prospects, and expectations. Furthermore, you can work as a sonographer in other places besides hospitals. You may work in imaging centers, cardiologists’ offices, mobile imaging institutions, etc.
2. Most Employers Would Prefer To Employ Certified Sonographers
You do not require a license to work as a medical sonographer in many states. However, many employers are on the lookout for sonographers that are certified. This means that one of the best ways to get a headstart in your sonography career is to get certified. You can get certified with the American Registry for Diagnostic Sonography (ARDMS), the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) or Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI).
3. You Need More Than Technical Skills To Excel as a Sonographer
Beyond the knowledge of using technical imaging equipment, a sonographer must possess soft skills to do well. Some of the most important ones include the following:
Before becoming a sonographer, you must realize that you do not function in isolation but as part of a larger structure. For instance, before a doctor makes a diagnosis, he may need you to do an ultrasound. Here, your ultrasound is not an end, but a means to help the doctor make a proper diagnosis.
You will also have to work with nurses and other professionals to improve the patient’s overall health. A sonographer must, therefore, be a great team player.
As a sonographer, you will have to interact with a large number of people in the course of discharging your duties. Therefore, you must learn how to speak with the different classes of people you interact with.
For instance, the way you will be expected to speak to a child-patient is quite different from an adult and quite different from how you will be expected to talk to a nurse or doctor.
Also, remember that communication goes beyond speech; therefore, a sonographer must also pay attention to body language and non-verbal gestures.
Keen Attention to Detail
Sonography is a field that requires patience and keen attention to detail. You will need these when you are capturing and labeling internal body structures or when you need to analyze the results of an ultrasound.
4. There Is More Than One Educational Path to Becoming a Sonographer
To become a sonographer, there are multiple educational paths available to you. You could do a bachelor’s degree that lasts about four years and earns you a BSc in sonography. You could also do an associate program that typically lasts two years and earn an associate degree in Sonography. Certification programs also take about 12-18 months to complete.
Each path has its benefits, but the most common route is an associate degree because it lasts just two years and gives you all the opportunities you desire.
5. Sonography Is an In-Demand and High-Paying Career Path
This is one fact that you should be glad to know before you become a sonographer. Sonographers are in high demand, and it is expected that even more roles will be created for them in the coming years. According to the U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS, the job market for medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists will increase by about 10% between 2021 and 2031.
Additionally, a sonographer’s median salary is about $75,380 per year, with some roles earning as high depending on their specialty and workplace. This is reasonable compensation, especially considering that you can complete your degree in 2 years.
6. Sonographers Are Usually Not Visible
You should be aware that the roles and responsibilities of the sonographer are usually behind the scenes. As a sonographer, you often simply conduct an ultrasound and submit the results to the doctor. You do not get to make a diagnosis or “save the patient”. Therefore, you might not receive so many “thank-yous” from patients or even colleagues. Yet, you must be prepared to give your best, whether appreciated or not.
7. You Will Need To Keep Learning
It is always said that learning never ends, and this is especially true for a sonographer. Your education doesn’t stop at the end of a degree or certification course. You will need to dedicate yourself to growing every day, either in soft or technical skills. This becomes even more relevant in the presence of advancement in technology, where new machines and devices are invented regularly.
Any sonographer that intends to be relevant in the future must regularly develop proficiency in handling such new technologies. Examples of tech innovation in the sonography world are 4D and 3D ultrasounds.
Now, you know what it means to become a sonographer. You know the prospects, advantages, and work description. Armed with these facts, you can make an informed decision about becoming a sonographer. If you are passionate about becoming a sonographer, you can start by preparing for the SPI exam, using our free SPI practice test can help you prepare for the certification exams.