The medical or healthcare field is by far, one of the widest professional fields ever and it needs people who can play various types of roles. Among the different kinds of skilled personnel it requires, the most needed are doctors, medical support staff, in the form of nurses and of course technicians who can operate the different types of medical diagnostic equipment. A career as a sonographer falls in the third category. A sonographer plays a very important role today in diagnostic procedures, working in close consultation with doctors.
Before we go into discussing average salary range of a sonographer, let's understand the job profile. Ultrasound sonography is one of the most advanced and versatile non-invasive diagnostic procedures, used for imaging of internal organs of the human body. It uses high frequency sound waves for creating an image of any internal organ, to help in diagnosing various health problems. Though it's primarily used as an imaging tool in obstetrics, it has applications in almost every diagnostic field of medicine. As opposed to X-Ray imaging, sonography can transmit live pictures of the insides of a human body, which can be recorded and analyzed later for diagnosis by a doctor.
The job of the sonographer is to operate and make optimum use of the ultrasound equipment to create clear pictures of the internal organs that need to be subjected for diagnosis. There are sonographers who specialize in ultrasonic imaging of specific areas. The various specialized fields include imaging of eyes (ophthalmological sonography), the brain (neurosonography), female reproductive system in the pregnancy phase, fetus growth and imaging of kidneys, liver, pancreas and spleen (abdominal sonography).
Sonographers are expected to work in close consultation with the physicians and be a part of a diagnostic team. They have to decide on the instrument settings and other modalities. They inform patients about the procedure and direct them for the same. They are expected to make detailed reports for the physicians. They usually work 40 hours a week and are employed by hospitals, clinics and laboratories.
To become a sonographer, one must study a specialized, two or four-year course offered by many universities in handling medical diagnostic tools. Some get trained on the job in hospitals and healthcare centers. A knowledge of human anatomy along with technical knowledge of equipment is required. There is no government established licensing procedure for a sonographer or medical technician. Surveys reveal that more than half the sonographers employed in USA are females. So currently, ladies rule, as far as the field of sonography is concerned.
Average Salary Range
Now let us see what is the kind of monetary compensation one can expect, working as a sonographer. Some of the prime factors affecting the salary are area of expertise, years of experience and geographical location of work. Freshers in this field start earning from about $22 per hour.
With experience under their belt, this hourly pay extends up to $29 per hour. People with as much as ten years of experience in this field earn around $32 per hour. If they work overtime, they may earn $25 to $60, on an average. The upper end of the cumulative average can extend up to or more than $80,000 per year, which includes working over time and on call pay. The starting annual salary packages may be around $40,000 to $50,000. There are both full-time and part-time job offers in this field. Naturally, the pay scale will vary according to degree of experience you possess in this field and standard of living in the location of employment. Some of the best employers for sonographers are Kaiser Permanente, the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Scott & White Hospital and Clinic, Magee Women's Hospital and HCA Inc. Most healthcare institutes and hospitals will pay for dental and medical insurance of their employees.
The job forecast for sonographers in the future is good, provided they keep updating their knowledge about the latest advancements in medical diagnostic equipment. Some of the top employers offer an average salary in the range of $64,000 to $85,000. The states which offer the maximum salaries are Massachusetts, Washington, Connecticut, Alaska and Oregon. If you are considering a career as a sonographer, I wish you all the very best for a promising career ahead.