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Exploring Sonography, Ultrasound & Radiologic Technology Careers

November 4th, 2014 by

Sonography-Radiology-CareersIf you’re interested in finding a career within the medical field, you might feel like you have three options: administrative work, hands-on medical work with patients and technical or maintenance work. In reality, there is one field that combines dealing with patients, medical diagnoses and the technical aspect of maintaining and troubleshooting medical equipment. Sonography, ultrasound technology and radiologic technology are fields that span the range of medical study, and they may be the perfect option for you.

Each of these fields requires employees to have some kind of degree, but busy students can easily opt to earn these medical degree online thanks to accredited online colleges. Take a closer look at this segment of the health care industry and learn more about the career options in sonography, ultrasound technology and radiologic technology.

What Sonographers Do

Sonography is a means of getting a clear picture of the inside of a person’s body. The word sonography refers to the high frequency sound waves that are used to get a dynamic picture of organs, tissues and more within the human body. As a sonographer, your primary job will be to complete the imaging test in order to diagnose a problem or at least eliminate a condition from the list based on the patient’s symptoms.

Sonographers, also known as ultrasound technicians, typically work in hospitals, but that isn’t the only possible place of employment. Some sonographers may work in nursing homes or private practices, although that is less common. Sonographers may spend much of their day standing, which requires plenty of physical stamina. It is also not unusual to have a nontraditional work schedule since many hospitals are open around the clock.

Some of your daily tasks as a sonographer might include getting a detailed patient history at the beginning of the appointment, recording any symptoms, getting the visual image, analyzing diagnostics, summarizing the findings for a physician and then working with an entire medical team to provide top medical treatment for patients.

How to Become a Sonographer/Ultrasound Technician

In order to become a sonographer, you will have to earn a minimum of an associate degree in the field. Ultimately, however, a full four-year bachelor’s degree might be a better way to prepare for the role and for advancement in the future. A bachelor’s degree in sonography will include courses in subjects like anatomy, physiology, the physics of sonography and patient care. Typically, students will have the option of focusing on a specific area of the field, which will help guide their employment.

For example, you might choose to study abdominal sonography, which requires an extensive knowledge of the spleen, liver and pancreas, or you might opt to study obstetric sonography, which means you need to be familiar with the female reproductive system. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree, many aspiring sonographers become licensed through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography and call themselves a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, or RDMS.

What Radiology Techs Do

At first glance, it might seem like a radiology technician has a similar job to that of a sonographer or an ultrasound technician. In many ways, they do. All of these careers focus on getting images of the body to diagnose or treat ailments for patients. While sonography and ultrasound rely on sound to get a clear picture, however, radiology involves an X-ray machine to acquire an image.

Just like sonographers, radiology technicians can be expected to stand for much of their shift, which can be tiring. Radiology techs often work in hospitals, but many also find work in nursing homes, private practices, urgent care centers and outpatient facilities. Some even work alongside physical therapists to deal with non-emergency or sports-related injuries. The role of a radiologic technician is very similar to that of an MRI technologist.

In fact, the two positions may overlap in some cases and even require the same diagnostic imaging degree. MRI technologists utilize scanners to get a magnetic resonance image of the affected area. Some radiology techs can specialize as mammographers, which requires extensive familiarity with breast cancer detection in women.

How to Become a Radiologic Technician

If you are interested in finding a career as either a radiologic technician, a radiology tech or an MRI technologist, then getting your associate degree will generally be the first step. Before you can earn an associate degree online or through a traditional campus program, you will have to show proof of your high school diploma or an equivalent general education degree. You may also have to submit references, transcripts, SAT scores, ACT scores and even a written admission essay.

Once accepted into an associate degree program in radiology technology, be prepared for roughly two years of study. During this time, you will focus on courses such as equipment operation, imaging modalities, medical terminology and human anatomy. In order to become licensed as a radiology tech in many states, you may also need to become certified through the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology.

Getting an Online Degree

While there is no doubt that earning a minimum of an associate degree is vital if you want to pursue any kind of career in sonography, ultrasound technology or radiologic technology, you do have the freedom to choose where you earn your degree.

Traditional college campus programs are one option, but they may not be the best fit for busy students. If you are worried that commuting to campus will take up too much time, interfere with your work schedule, cost a significant amount of cash for gas and parking or just be an inconvenience in your life, then an accredited online college could be the perfect alternative.

The coursework is generally the same, but everything can be completed from the comfort of home on your personal computer. Watch lectures in real time and ask questions over a web camera, watch the recorded versions later on at your convenience, chat with your fellow online classmates to discuss key concepts and even take exams whenever they fit into your busy schedule.

Salaries and Potential Job Growth in These Fields

Before settling on a career in these three very similar fields, it might help to have a better understanding of their potential for job growth as well as their average salaries in the United States. The average annual salary for a diagnostic medical sonographer is currently $65,860 with a bachelor’s degree.

With just an associate degree, radiologic technicians can expect to earn slightly less, or an average yearly pay of $54,620. Both careers have a truly incredible job outlook. Over the next decade alone, radiology techs can expect to see a whopping 21 percent in job demand, creating more than 48,000 new jobs. In sonography, the future is even brighter, with a predicted 46 percent growth forecast between now and 2022.

Careers in sonography, ultrasound technology and radiologic technology can be exciting new prospects for your future.

Accredited-Online-Colleges.com is a great place to begin your search for an accredited college with the programs that can help you reach your professional goals.

About the Author:

Sandy Davis

Sandy Davis is a long-time educator who holds a Master’s Degree in Education, having taught English, writing, and communication on the secondary and college levels. With ten years of experience in blogging, social media and content management, she is a freelance writer and content marketing specialist for a diverse range of clients.

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