Students considering starting an ultrasound technician program in 2017 may wonder if their career options are limited. The answer is quite simply: No, sonographers have many options to keep the career advancing and interesting. They include the traditional routes like earning ARDMS ultrasound certification in a new specialty, but there are other paths available that may not seem so obvious at first. For example, some sonographers decide to enter the corporate world and become a technical advisor.
Learning the Basics in Ultrasound Tech Programs
Attending one of the CAAHEP accredited ultrasound technology programs is only a first step in what can be a long and interesting career. The ultrasound tech programs teach the basics of Diagnostic Medical Sonography, preparing the student to take the ARDMS exams and begin working with the right skills. Once the program is completed, and school is behind the student, where do sonographers go?
Naturally, the type of degree in sonography earned will influence the starting career path. For example, earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography with specialty training in vascular sonography, and the newly trained sonographer is likely to work in a hospital. If the student specializes in obstetrics and gynecology, the sonographer may work in a hospital, clinic or physician office. In these facilities, a career can advance by:
- Assuming a lead position
- Becoming a department administrator
- Assuming supervision of more than one area
- Supervising a larger staff
- Earning additional specialty credentials
In other words, it is possible to advance while remaining in the same facility through experience or additional education. As the healthcare industry transforms, there are also new opportunities arising as a result of several factors.
Many hospitals are consolidating, creating new infrastructures that create supervisory opportunities. There is also a growth in the number of free-standing clinics being built by hospital groups, creating another set of opportunities to manage departments or the clinic.
Where are All the Sonographers?
The Bureau of Labor reports that, as of May 2016, there were 65,790 Diagnostic Medical Sonographers employed in the nation. However, the industries with the highest employment levels account for 64,490. Of that group, Almost 62 percent work in general medical and surgical hospitals. Approximately 21 percent work in physician offices. Almost 12 percent work in medical and diagnostic laboratories. Another 3.7 percent work in outpatient care centers, and less than 1 percent work in specialty hospitals. With a beginning average salary of $48,660, sonographers begin their careers with excellent pay (check Diagnostic Medical Sonographer salary by state and by metropolitan area).
That is a snapshot of the industry. However, where are the other sonographers working, if only 64,490 out of 65,790 are accounted for in the industries mentioned? Dig deeper into the statistics, and it becomes apparent that there are many sonographers working in non-typical positions. For example, top paying industries for the profession include colleges, universities and professional schools, offices of other health practitioners, and employment services.
If the thought of working in a hospital or clinic for decades doing sonograms does not sound appealing, consider the many other types of jobs sonographers are doing today.
- Work for a manufacturer of ultrasound equipment as a consultant
- Become a sales representative
- Become a government consultant
- Start a business offering sonography services
- Become a technical advisor for a medical business
- Become an instructor
- Do ultrasound research
- Manage a mobile sonography
- Become a healthcare employment counselor
Learn more about sonographer career advancement.
The Future Holds Even More Opportunities
The list of career advancement options is long after completing one of the ultrasound tech programs. The more specialty credentials a sonographer earns, the greater the number of opportunities. This is why so many sonographers find themselves saying after a few years of working, “Maybe I should find a sonography program near me so I can add to my credentials.” The reality is that ultrasound technology is an expanding healthcare field. There are opportunities that will exist in the future due to technology that are not even available yet. That is what makes this such an exciting field of work.