Medical Sonographer Job Description

Sonographer Technician performing ultrasound test on pregnant woman. Ultrasound can determine the sex of a baby before they are born.

Sonographer Technician performing ultrasound test on pregnant woman. Ultrasound can determine the sex of a baby before they are born.

They do everything from helping proud parents determine the sex of an unborn child to finding blocked blood vessels. Using Sonography or ultrasonography, sound waves are used to generate an image for the assessment and diagnosis of various medical conditions.

Diagnostic medical sonographers, also known as ultra-sonographers, use special equipment to direct non-ionizing, high frequency sound waves into areas of the patient’s body. Sonographers operate the equipment, which collects reflected echoes and forms an image that may be videotaped, transmitted, or photographed for interpretation and diagnosis by a physician. 

Alternate Titles: Ultrasound technician, Ultrasound Tech, Sonographer

Working Environment

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. Sonographers typically work in healthcare facilities that are clean and well lighted. Some travel to patients in large vans equipped with sophisticated diagnostic equipment.

A growing number of sonographers work as contract employees and may perform tests at a number of different hospitals. Sonographers are on their feet for long periods and may have to lift or turn disabled patients. They work at diagnostic imaging machines, but also may perform some procedures at patients’ bedsides.

Education and Training

Formal training ranges from a two year vocational or associates degree program to a Bachelor’s degree. The average sonographer will usually take about one year of classes in topics such as anatomy and physiology as well as biology prior to enrolling in a two year program. Other training avenues include the military and resident training programs offered by hospitals or other healthcare facilities.

Licensing and Credentialing

There is no actual licensing requirement although some states may require registration or certification. There is a national registration program through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). This program offers additional assurances to employers that the individual has the requisite knowledge required of the diagnostic sonographer job description. Many employers require the sonographer to be certified by ARDMS.

Significant Points

Job opportunities should be favorable, as sonography becomes an increasingly attractive alternative to radiologic procedures. 

About 6 out of 10 sonographers were employed by hospitals, and most of the rest worked in offices of physicians or in medical and diagnostic laboratories, including diagnostic imaging centers. 

Sonographers may train in hospitals, vocational-technical institutions, colleges and universities, and the Armed Forces.

The Sonographer job description is constantly changing as technology improves and expands.


Career Progression

There is not a tremendous amount of upward mobility in this career. Advancement may be to positions such as department supervisor and in some instance department manager. Wages are expected to increase at a moderate pace. Those looking to assume more managerial roles or CEO responsibilities usually acquire additional education in allied health, human resources or healthcare administration.

Diagnostic Medical Sonographers Job Description Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition.

Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography 2745 Dallas Pkwy Ste 350  Plano, TX 75093-8730 Telephone (214) 473-8057


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