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Diagnostic Medical Sonography

Occupational Description

The diagnostic medical sonographer provides patient services using medical ultrasound (high-frequency sound waves that produce images of internal structures). Working under the supervision of a physician responsible for the use and interpretation of ultrasound procedures, the sonographer helps gather sonographic data to diagnose a variety of conditions and diseases, as well as monitor fetal development.

Job Description

The sonographer provides patient services in a variety of medical settings in which the physician is responsible for the use and interpretation of ultrasound procedures. In assisting physicians in gathering sonographic data, the diagnostic medical sonographer is able to obtain, review, and integrate pertinent patient history and supporting clinical data to facilitate optimum diagnostic results; perform appropriate procedures and record anatomical, pathological, and/or physiological data for interpretation by a physician; record and process sonographic data and other pertinent observations made during the procedure for presentation to the interpreting physician; exercise discretion and judgment in the performance of sonographic services; provide patient education related to medical ultrasound; and promote principles of good health.

Employment Characteristics

Diagnostic medical sonographers may be employed in hospitals, clinics, private offices, and industry. Most full-time sonographers work about 40 hours a week; they may have evening weekend hours and times when they are on call and must be ready to report to work on short notice.

The demand for sonographers, including suitably qualified educators, researchers, and administrators, continues to exceed the supply, with faster than average job growth anticipated. The supply and demand ratio affects salaries, depending on experience and responsibilities.

Educational Programs

Length. Accredited programs are between 1 and 4 years (certificate, associate, and baccalaureate level), depending on program design, objectives, and the degree or certificate awarded.

Prerequisites. Applicants to a 1-year program must possess qualifications in a clinically related allied health profession. Applicants to 2-year programs must be high school graduates (or equivalent) with an educational background in basic science, general physics, and algebra. All applicants must demonstrate satisfactory completion of the following courses at college level: general physics, biological science, algebra, and communication skills. Skills potential and practicing sonographers should exhibit include social perceptiveness, learning strategies, critical thinking skills, instructional skills, active listening, active learning, reading comprehension, and written/oral expression.

Curriculum. Curricula of accredited programs include physical sciences, applied biological sciences, patient care, clinical medicine, applications of ultrasound, instrumentation, related diagnostic procedures, and image evaluation. A plan for well-structured, competency-based clinical education is an essential part of the curriculum of all sonography programs.


American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
51 Monroe St, Plaza East Ore
Rockville, MD 20852
(301) 738-8401

The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists®
1255 Northland Drive
St. Paul, Minnesota 55120-1155 USA 
Phone (651) 687-0048

Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI)
1500 Sunday Drive, Suite 102
Raleigh, NC 27607
(919) 861-4539


Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography
2745 Dallas Pkwy/Ste 350
Plano, TX 75093-4706
(214) 473-8057
(214) 473-8563 Fax

Society for Vascular Ultrasound
4601 Presidents Dr, Ste 260
Lanham, MD 20706-4365
(301) 459-7550 or (800) SVT- VEIN

American Institute of Ultrasound Medicine
14750 Sweitzer Lane, Suite 100
Laurel, MD  20707-5906
(301) 498-4100

American Society of Echocardiography
1500 Sunday Drive, Suite 102
Raleigh, NC  27607
(919) 787-5181