Hospitals and diagnostic labs would be unable to get sophisticated sonogram images without sonographers, who study and diagnose images and then consult with physicians about patients' diseases or injuries. These professionals also maintain patients' medical records. If you are detail-oriented and have physical stamina and technical skills, you already possess some of the key skills of a sonographer. After completing an associate or bachelor's degree in sonography, you can earn an above-average salary in this field.
Types of Sonographers
There are several types of sonographers in the diagnostic medical sonographer category. Abdominal sonographers take images of the liver, spleen, kidney, pancreas and gallbladder. Breast sonographers check for cancerous tumors in breast tissue. If you are a musculoskeletal sonographer, you study injuries or diseases in muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments. Neurosonographers study patients' nerve tissues and brains. And obstetric and gynecologic sonographers specialize in images and growth of fetuses and women's reproductive tracts, respectively.
Average Salary and Benefits
Sonographers earned average annual salaries of $65,800 as of May 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS. If you are among the top 10 percent in earnings, you would make over $90,640 per year. And, your salary would be less than $44,950 if your income falls in the bottom 10 percent. Salaries are usually contingent up experience, geographical area and size of employers. Since you would likely work full time as a sonographer, expect to receive benefits such as health insurance, paid time-off and a retirement plan.
Salary by Industry
A sonographer's salary can vary somewhat by industry. They earned the highest annual salaries in colleges, universities and professional schools -- $74,540 as of May 2011, according to the BLS. They also earned above-average salaries in outpatient care centers and management, scientific and technical consulting firms -- $72,470 and $70,130 per year, respectively. Average salaries working for either general medical and surgical hospitals or medical diagnostic labs were $65,870 and $63,920 per year, respectively.
Salary by State
Sonographers earned the highest annual salaries, $81,750, in California as of May 2011, according to the BLS. They also earned relatively high salaries in Oregon and Massachusetts at $80,190 and $79,650 per year, respectively. As a sonographer, your income would be closer to average in New Jersey and New York -- $67,220 and $65,960 per year, respectively. And you would earn considerably less in Florida and South Dakota at $58,260 and $52,600 annually, respectively.
Jobs for diagnostic medical sonographers are expected to increase 44 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the BLS, which compares to the average projected growth of 14 percent for all U.S. occupations. Much of the job growth in this field is attributed to the increased use of sound imaging technology to replace costlier invasive tests, or those that expose patients to radiation. Consider working in a physicians' office or diagnostic lab, as most of the new jobs will be in these establishments.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
- U.S. News & World Report: University Directory: Diagnostic Medical Sonographers Job Summary, Education and Earnings
- Career Overview: Medical Sonographer Career and Job Information
- MyPlan.com: Diagnostic Medical Sonographers