Sonography involves using special equipment that uses sound waves to create internal pictures of the human body. Common names for these images include ultrasound, echocardiogram, and sonogram. These images are used to assess and diagnose various medical conditions. A sonography program teaches a student how to use the sonography equipment, how to handle patients, how to get clear images, how to record finding, and how to provide initial assessments of the images to doctors. A sonographer is a vital part of many medical teams.
Most programs have their own requirements. However, most sonography programs have common requirements. A student must have at least an associate degree or equivalent college credits. The GPA should meet the programs requirements. Most programs require students to complete certain courses such as anatomy/physiology, algebra, composition, physics, medical terminology, and ethics. Students to a sonography program should be in good physical shape in order to handle patients and equipment. Some program may require recommendations from college faculty or professional organizations. Some require the student to have previous medical experience of some sort.
Students in a sonography program will take classes in patient care, ergonomics, ultrasound physics, medical ethics, gynecology ultrasound, abdominal ultrasound, vascular ultrasound, and topics in sonography. The student also completes a given number of clinical hours before graduation.
Upon graduation from an accredited program, most sonographers will find work in a hospital. Some work for doctors' offices and others in imaging clinics. Work hours for a sonographer in a hospital may be days, nights, or weekends. Some sonographers will specialize in areas such as obstetrics or abdominal imaging. The work requires the person to be on their feet for several hours a day and move patients around accordingly. The projected growth for this field is about 45% over the next decade, much higher than the national average.
Salaries for this medical specialty will vary by region, employer, and experience. In 2010, the median salary for a sonographer was $64,000. The range of salaries was between $44,000 and $88,000.
The world of sonography continues to grow as technology advances. The use of sound waves to image internal systems becomes more detailed every year. New equipment is being developed using this technology. Those working in this field will need to keep up with technology changes to remain viable in this profession. Certification will require ongoing education as well.