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Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

colleges offer programs related to this career near Ashburn, VA

Career Overview

Have you ever seen a picture of a baby in the womb? That image, also known as a sonogram or ultrasound, was taken by a skilled professional trained to create photos of the body's organs and tissues. If this sounds interesting to you, then why not pursue a career as a diagnostic medical sonographer?As a sonographer, you would place an instrument called an ultrasound transducer on the part of a patient's body that is being examined. The transducer emits pulses of sound that bounce back, causing echoes that are sent to the ultrasound machine, which processes them and displays them as images.This job is an important part of the medical field, because doctors often ask for a sonogram when they need more information to make a diagnosis. For instance, if a woman were to go to the hospital regarding an abnormality she found while performing a breast self-exam, the doctor could ask for a breast sonogram to be performed. This sonogram would help the doctor to determine if something is wrong, and what the next steps for treatment should be if the sonogram shows less than favorable results.

Salaries and Job Outlook*

2013 Median Annual Pay
Number of Jobs in 2013
Projected Growth Rate
National
$71,410
68,750
23.2 %
Virginia
$69,760
1,670
 

Education and Training

Degrees Required:
Associate's Degree in Sonography

care only pay for procedures if a certified sonographer performed the work, most employers prefer to hire those with professional certification. You can earn certification by graduating from an accredited program and passing an exam. Most exams relate to the specialty that you are most interested in�"for example, you can take a specific exam to become certified in abdominal sonography.

 
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Valued Traits & Abilities

Communication Skills
Detail Oriented

Career Opportunities

Pursuing a career as a diagnostic medical sonographer gives you the opportunity to choose an area of expertise. For instance, if you think you'd enjoy working with expectant mothers, you can become a obstetric and gynecologic sonographer. Other areas you can specialize in include abdominal sonography, breast sonography, and musculoskeletal sonography.

Obstetric and Gynecologic Sonographer

These medical professionals specialize in imaging the female reproductive system, particularly during pregnancy to track a baby's growth and health. When they're not working with expecting mothers, they can detect abnormalities or diseases, such as uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts and other masses.

Neurosonographers

These sonographers specialize in imaging a patient's nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord. They perform tests on patients with Sickle Cell Disease and those who have suffered a stroke or a subarachnoid hemorrhage, just to name a few. These experts provide neurologists and neurosurgeons with vital insights into the causes of their patients' condition, and can pinpoint damaged areas for surgical correction.

Work Environment

Your job as a diagnostic medical sonographer will have you working indoors, either in a private practice or in a hospital. You will work full time with hours ranging from 7am to 6pm in the evening. You may even have to work evenings or weekends to cover shifts if you work in a medical facility that is open 24/7.This job can ask a lot of you, both emotionally and physically. You may often work long hours and sometimes you will assist patients who may be in pain. In this case, you will need to be calm, kind, and professional, regardless of how tired you may feel. This work can also be exciting, especially if you choose to become an obstetric and gynecologic sonographer. You will work with women eager to see a sonogram of their baby.

* Source: BLS Data - 2013