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How to Become a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Expecting a child can be an exciting time in the lives of parents. It can also be extremely nerve-wracking as they monitor the health of their developing baby with the help of a diagnostic medical sonographer.

Diagnostic medical sonographers play an important role in the prenatal development phase of a baby’s growth. If you are interested in starting a potentially fruitful career in medicine and want to assist patients directly, learn how to become a diagnostic medical sonographer.

What Is a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer?

A diagnostic medical sonographer is an expert technician who uses high-frequency soundwaves to perform ultrasounds on patients. Diagnostic medical sonographers can screen for tumors, cancerous cells, and assist in mammograms.

They can even help diagnose musculoskeletal disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, tension neck syndrome, and ligament sprain.

Performing ultrasounds, in turn, provides valuable medical images for doctors and other medical professionals to consult. Although performing ultrasounds for pregnancies is perhaps the most famous role of a diagnostic medical sonographer, their expertise reaches far beyond that.

What Does a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer Do?

Diagnostic medical sonographers work closely with patients to perform diagnostic checks on various parts of their bodies. Much like radiological or nuclear medical experts, diagnostic medical sonographers are masters of medical imagery.

Diagnostic imagery can speak volumes about a patient's past and current medical history. Overall, it informs doctors about the next steps in caring for a patient.

Specializes in Diagnostic Tests and Performs Ultrasounds

As the name suggests, a diagnostic medical sonographer uses their medical knowledge to perform various diagnostic tests.

Using high-frequency sound waves, the diagnostic medical sonographer quite literally forms a real-time diagnostic picture. Specifically, these images point out a patient's different body parts and any possible anomalies and abnormalities that lie within.

Performs Ultrasounds

Diagnostic medical sonographers work with high-frequency sound waves to form computer-generated images of an expecting mother's baby. This is an immensely useful tool in the arsenal of medical professionals. It can directly inform doctors of any prenatal complications and if the baby is developing correctly.

Essential Diagnostic Medical Sonographer Skills

Knowledge of Medical Equipment

Diagnostic medical sonographers work with advanced medical tools and need to educate themselves accordingly for the best use. Patients and doctors alike depend on the accurate results of diagnostic tests.

Medical Knowledge About the Human Body

Knowing about natal care is one thing. But what if the patient needs to have their blood vessels or heart health examined? Learning the ins and outs of things like basic anatomy and the different systems of the human body keep you informed.

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer Salaries and Job Outlook

The national average diagnostic medical sonographer salary in the United States is $68,750 per year, or $33.05 per hour. The highest-paid diagnostic medical sonographers find employment in outpatient care clinics and the offices of physicians.

If you want a more specific area-based idea of a diagnostic medical sonographer salary, areas like California and Hawaii are the highest-paying states, with an average of $100,960 and $102,140, respectively. Of course, these rates depend on the city, seniority level, and full-time or part-time employment.

If you want the best employment chances, applying anywhere in California, New York, or Florida is your best shot. They boast the highest volume of employment in the United States.

If you plan to become a diagnostic medical sonographer, you can expect a promising increase in job growth. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this field will grow by 12 percent, a pretty significant shift compared to all other occupations. In 2019, there were a total of 131,700 diagnostic medical sonographer jobs.

These jobs will always be in demand. People of all ages will, at some point, need professionals to carry out ultrasounds for them.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer?

Depending on how long your education takes to complete, the overall timeline can range from two to three years. This depends on if you complete your associate degree as a full-time or part-time student, along with certificate programs.

How to Become a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer: A Step by Step Guide

The steps to becoming a diagnostic medical sonographer are surprisingly accessible to anyone interested in this career path.

Step 1: Earn Your Associate Degree (Maybe Even Your Bachelor's)

Since entry-level positions require your associate degree, you need to ensure you've passed high school or your GED exam. Next, choosing an applicable major, preferably one dealing heavily in math and science, is a great move.

Attending a community college for medical career paths is a fantastic option. It not only takes a shorter time but is more cost-efficient than universities. Community college courses can also prove to be even better than expensive university courses in some instances.

Instead of your associate degree, you could also pursue a four-year, specific bachelor's degree. Although it takes more time, it gives you an excellent opportunity for employment down the road.

Step 2: Learn All About Medicine

Don't just earn your associate degree for the sake of acquiring it. You need to eat, sleep, and breathe medical knowledge. When starting a medical career path, you take on a huge responsibility. Testing and taking care of others' health is a serious matter. If you don't have the medical chops, your career path will be over before it even begins.

Step 3: Apply for a Certification Program

Out of all the steps, this one is optional. However, it's an excellent idea to earn certification. While not required by states, many employers and patients want to see that you passed a certification exam.

The job hiring process becomes pretty cut and dry for employers when debating between job candidates. Almost all of the time, they'll side with the candidate who has completed a certification program.

Where to Apply for a Certificate Program?

Luckily, finding a place to get certified is pretty simple. Firstly, the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) is arguably the best place to start. It offers certificate programs and certificate renewals for every aspect of sonography.

You can become a certified midwife sonographer, a musculoskeletal sonographer, and of course, a diagnostic medical sonographer. You can also find the various degree and certification programs with the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

Should You Become a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer?

Like many similar medical fields, becoming a diagnostic medical sonographer is a stable and reliable choice. Whether you are helping an expecting mother get to know their child, or assisting with finding potential abnormalities in a sick patient, the value of a qualified diagnostic medical sonographer is unmatched.


Is a diagnostic medical sonography a good career path?
Yes, becoming a diagnostic medical sonographer is a great career choice. It rates at #5 in the best health support jobs.
What is a good organization for future diagnostic medical sonographers?
Joining ARDMS, or American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography, is your best bet. It's a fantastic organization that provides certificate programs and certificate exams, allowing for the renewal and acquisition of licenses. You also join a great organization with a reliable support system for everyone in diagnostic sonography.
Is being a diagnostic medical sonographer stressful?
It was actually ranked as the least stressful job in the United States by Forbes. This is great for workaholics out there who might get easily stressed.
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