A number of people new to the sonography field are not comfortable discussing issues like salary and benefits. They chose an ultrasound career to help others in need and not to pursue money. By nature they are compassionate people with a vision of making a difference in the delivery of quality healthcare services. While seeking employment in 2017, many find that negotiating hard job details compensation is challenging. Following are some general guidelines to smooth the process.
Balancing the Interview
The interview process is not the time salary is usually discussed. It is the time when the employer reviews the candidate’s qualifications and gets a sense of the person’s personality and working style. Salary is not an interview topic because the hospital, clinic or physician office wants to first decide who the best candidate is and then determine what the facility can afford to pay the person. It is not until a job offer is made that the ultrasound technician will negotiate the job details concerning salary, benefits, paid leave, schedules and so on.
Normally there are several interviews held before someone is chosen for a position. Salary is often not mentioned until the end of the process. Most Allied Health positions have a salary range to allow the facility to align the salary with the applicant’s qualifications. Before starting an ultrasound career, the job candidate has to decide what is acceptable.
Following are some tips for managing the salary negotiation process:
- Negotiate pay after being offered a job
- Request a couple of days to review the job offer, including the compensation package
- Be fully prepared to point out qualifications that will bring exceptional value to the position
- Show confidence during negotiations
- Never assume the pay offered is the final offer
- Sonographers starting their first job should not assume they have to accept the first offer due to lack of experience
- Do not hesitate to make one or more reasonable counteroffers for the position
- Consider personal financial needs when deciding on the salary to ask for
- Get the final agreement in writing
Employers will naturally lowball a salary offer, and especially if the job candidate has little or no experience. They expect counteroffers. The reality is the employer would not be offering the person a job unless they believed the candidate is a good fit for their organization. Accepting the first salary offer could send the wrong message as to the person’s confidence in their abilities and competencies.
It is easy to research average salaries for sonographers. The Ultrasound Technician Center tracks salaries by state and presents them in an easily readable chart. This information can help with salary negotiations whether someone is planning on working locally or considering a job in another state. There is another table that lists sonographer salaries by metropolitan and nonmetropolitan area. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also provides a wealth of information on low, middle and upper average salaries.
Negotiating a salary is not an easy process for people in any profession. However, it is necessary in order to start an ultrasound career. A common mistake people make is accepting the first offer because they are so anxious to land a job and get busy helping patients. It is much better to be gracious about the offer and then ask for 24-48 hours to respond. That will give the applicant time to think about the offer without distractions.
Consider All Factors of an Ultrasound Career
Accepting a job offer is a major decision in many ways. The job impacts financial status and lifestyle so it is important to consider the entire offer package offered and not just the salary. People tend to focus on money, but the demands of the job will affect everything from family life to stress level. Therefore, job applicants negotiating a job offer need to look at the big picture and evaluate each component from the perspective of how it will affect the applicant and applicant’s family.
What is the work schedule? Will the sonographer need to work rotating shifts? Does the applicant believe the schedule will reasonably fit the needs of the applicant? For example, a single mother may have difficulty working a permanent rotating shift schedule but could work a set shift schedule because it allows for long-term planning.
What benefits are offered, and are they satisfactory? Some employers do not offer full benefits because the work schedule is set in a way that requires the applicant to get health insurance on their own through the federal or state health exchanges. However, medical insurance is available to everyone now and it is not the only benefit. Other benefits include sick and vacation leave time, retirement plans, onsite child care and so on.
Though the ARDMS registered sonographer is well trained in job duties, each facility has a different set of responsibilities attached to each position. It is important to once again carefully review the job description duty-by-duty. Though pertinent questions should have been asked before the job offer was made, a final review of job responsibilities may lead to some more questions that need answering before negotiating a final compensation and benefits package.
Does the facility seem like a good place to work? After sitting through the interviews, taking facility tours and meeting people who would be co-workers, does the job still seem like a good fit? If so, then pursue the final stage of negotiations.
Consider how the job fits the desired career path. For example, if a sonographer plans on eventually moving into teaching or private enterprise, the experience gained with the job should lay a foundation for moving towards the desired goal. It is always good to look ahead.
Prepare to Negotiate
Negotiation is an art form in many ways. It is a mix of perceptions, preparation and willingness to ask for what seems fair. The struggling economy has seemingly given employers a negotiating edge, but the healthcare industry needs highly trained Diagnostic Medical Sonographers. When someone interested in an ultrasound career is offered a job it means the person is perceived as having the capability of bringing unique competencies to the job. It is tempting to think the employer has all the power, but once a job offer is made there is proof the employer thinks the person is a good match. Stay confident when negotiating salary and benefits because the employer needs your skills.
The job outlook for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers is bright and getting brighter. As the number of jobs grows, more people will find themselves negotiating sonography job offers. The important point to always keep in mind is that the first offer is not necessarily the final offer.