There are thousands of veterans transitioning into the government and civilian workforces. There are many options for great careers, and in 2017, Diagnostic Medical Sonography is one of them. Veterans will find many reasons why they should choose a career in ultrasound technology. The employment outlook is excellent, professionals work on teams, and the duties are high-tech and interesting. There are also a number of grant and scholarship opportunities (check financial aid opportunities for sonography students by state) designed specifically for veterans interested in sonography careers.
Easier Transitioning Through School
Veterans are leaving military service by the tens of thousands due to cutbacks, the winding down of wars, and voluntary exits and retirements. As veterans transition into government and private jobs, they are discovering there is a big difference between the military and non-military workplace.
First, the organizational cultures are quite different. The military culture is regimented, tight knit and focused almost exclusively on teamwork. The civilian work environment is looser. While teamwork is important, positions in the private jobs are more autonomous. Second, military job qualifications do not always translate easily into position requirements.
As a result, veterans are sometimes placed into positions that are not a good match for their skills and training. The end result is a high attrition rate within the first two years of civilian employment. Syracuse University and VetAdvisor conducted a joint study and found that 44 percent of veterans left their first civilian job after one year. Another 21 percent quit within two years.
The Three-Ts of Choosing Sonography Careers
There are several important reasons why veterans should consider pursuing one of the sonography careers, but three stand out. These are the three-Ts of teamwork, technical and transition.
Veterans have developed excellent teamwork skills. Ultrasound technicians work with a variety of healthcare professionals and often participate on patient care teams.
Using state-of-the-art imaging equipment requires people with highly developed technical skills. Many veterans held skilled jobs in the military that required mastering the use of computers, reading images and developing other technical skills as part of their job training. Students can choose to complete specialized programs in sonography like cardiovascular sonography.
Completing a sonography program gives veterans time to adjust to working in the civilian workplace. Diagnostic Medical Sonography programs (check the sonography school directory in 2017) require real-world clinical training where veterans can adapt to non-military work under the guidance of healthcare professionals.
The Veterans Administration is struggling to adequately serve the growing population of veterans needing healthcare services. There is a need for more reliance on non-invasive and less expensive procedures like ultrasound imaging. In fact, there are currently positions open for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Veterans choosing sonography as a career may very well end up assisting fellow veterans improve the quality of their lives. This doubles the job satisfaction. On top of that, the average salary for sonographers who are newly hired, or have been employed for only a short period of time, is an excellent $48,660 per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Utilize Veteran Funding Opportunities
There is a host of education funding programs directed towards veterans. Taking advantage of these programs now is the ideal course of action because there is never any assurance they will still be available years from now. Veterans interested in a degree in ultrasound technology should discuss the following programs with a school financial counselor.
Post 9/11 GI Bill
Veterans who served after September 10, 2011 are eligible for higher education benefits, as are their immediate family members. It includes the Yellow Ribbon Program which some CAAHEP accredited sonography schools participate in to make additional school funds available to veterans. For example, Argosy University-Eagan in Minnesota is a Yellow Ribbon School. There is also a program for the transfer of entitlement which allows the veteran to transfer unused Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to dependent children or a spouse.
Montgomery GI Bill
The Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty program gives active duty members the opportunity to save $100 each month for a year for their education while in the military. In return, they become eligible for a monthly education benefit after meeting a designated service obligation. The Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve is a version designed for Reservists meeting particular obligations.
Veterans Educational Assistance Program
The Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP) is a 2-for-1 educational benefit matching program for veterans who contributed to the program with military pay. The government matches $2 for every $1 the veteran contributed.
Reserve Educational Assistance Program
The Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) provides educational assistance to Reservists who were called to active duty after September 11, 2011.
Of course, each school has a variety of scholarships (check scholarships by state and by school) dedicated to veterans. There is no reason why interested veterans should not pursue one of the careers in sonography if that is the first preference.
Calling Veterans to Active Duty as Sonographers
Diagnostic Medical Sonography is an excellent career choice for veterans ready to start a new career (check the Top 10 Characteristics of Successful Sonographers) in the government or private sectors. The excellent employment outlook means veterans choosing a sonography career will be in demand for many years to come. The Bureau of Labor statistics includes Diagnostic Medical sonographers on its list of the fastest growing occupations for the period 2012-2022. The projection is for 46 percent growth in the number of positions, meaning there is an excellent job outlook.