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Sonography Education Requirements and Career Information

A sonographer is responsible for using an ultrasound machine to create medical images of patients' internal organs. Many education paths are available for prospective sonographers, but the most common route is a 2-year degree program at an accredited sonography training program.

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Sonography Career Information

Sonographers use equipment that directs high-frequency sound waves to body organs and tissue to generate medical diagnostic images. Opportunities are available to generalize or specialize in a particular field of sonography, such as the female reproductive system, vascular system, brain or abdomen.

Career opportunities are available in hospitals, medical clinics and imaging centers. Ultrasound technology is expected to remain popular, because it doesn't use radiation and patients do not experience any side effects from this procedure. According to SimplyHired.com, as of 2010, the average salary for a sonographer is $52,000 per year.

Education Requirements

The Commission on Accreditation for Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) has approved over 150 sonography training programs in the country. Most of these programs are available through 2-year degree programs at technical and community colleges. This has become the standard educational route for prospective sonographers. Hospitals, vocational schools and universities also provide a range of certificate, diploma and bachelor's degree programs that are acceptable to most employers and are recognized in the industry.

Many programs prefer that applicants have a strong educational background in science and healthcare. Allied healthcare professionals interested in pursuing a sonography education may complete special 1-year certificate programs. Bachelor's degree programs may include advanced courses in science, patient care, medical ethics, fundamentals of physics, anatomy and physiology and intensive training in instrumentation. Sonography programs require students to participate in supervised clinical training in a professional setting.

Graduates of a sonography program must pass the professional certification exam offered through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS).

While certification may not be required by all states, it does prove to potential employers that an applicant has the ability to work in this field.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics