Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

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Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, also known as Ultrasound Technologists, use complex equipment to direct high frequency sound waves into specific areas of a patient's body to produce images which show the shape and position of internal organs, fluid accumulations, masses, or fetal development. These images are used by physicians in making diagnoses.  


Diagnostic Medical Sonographers may: 

Review the physician's requisition sheet to determine the purpose and type of examination needed and special considerations involved 

Check the patient's medical history and prior test results 

Obtain any additional information from the patient or from other personnel 

Select and set up equipment for the test 

Plan the procedure and explain it to the patient 

Assist the patient in assuming the best physical position to achieve accurate test results 

Make a preliminary scan to verify proper machine adjustment and the patient's proper position 

Ensure patients safety and comfort by observing and caring thoughout examinations 

Complete the final scan and make sure that a satisfactory image is produced by observing the sound wave display screen 

Activate equipment which produces a photograph or printout (an ultra sonogram) of the test patterns 

Attach identification tags to the photograph or printout 

Provide sonogram and oral or written summary of technical findings to physician for use in medical diagnosis 

Maintain a log of tests 

Click here to view a brief video of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers at work. 

Machines, tools, equipment, and work aids used by Diagnostic Medical Sonographers include: 

  • Ultrasound scanners (either water-coupled or contact) 
  • Transducers (convert energy into high frequency sound waves) 
  • Oil or gel (used with contact ultrasonic scanners) 
  • Doppler ultrasonic motion detector (detect blood flow/pressure) 
  • Film (used to make ultrasonic photographs) 
  • Pillow or pads (to help patients hold desired physical position) 
  • Requisition forms and log books


Diagnostic Medical Sonographers may specialize in these areas: 

078.364-010  ULTRASOUND TECHNOLOGIST also known as Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, use complex equipment to direct high frequency sound waves into specific areas of a patient's body to produce images which show the shape and position of internal organs, fluid accumulations, masses, or fetal development. These images are used by physicians in making diagnoses. 

Many Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, especially those working in large institutions, specialize in examining specific areas of the body. Examples of specialists in this field include: 

Echoencephalographers (brain) 

Echocardiographers (heart) 

Ophthalmic Sonographers (eye) 

Obstetrical/Gynecological Sonographers (pregnant and non-pregnant uterus) 

Doppler Technologists (blood vessels near the surface of the body) 


In addition to learning about these specialties, you may also find it helpful to explore the following Career Exploration Script: 


Diagnostic Medical Sonographers may work alone or with other Technologists, nurses, aides, and clerical staff in a medical laboratory or special examination rooms. They may also perform ultrasound examinations at the bedsides of critically ill patients. They work under the supervision of a physician and may be supervised by a senior Ultrasound Technologist as well. 

Diagnostic Medical Sonographers usually work a 5-day, 40-hour week. They may be required to work overtime during emergencies. Some Diagnostic Medical Sonographers might be assigned rotating work shifts and scheduled for 24-hour-on-call duty. They may be required to purchase their own uniforms. 

Diagnostic Medical Sonographers may join the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers or the Michigan Sonographers Society. Members are required to pay periodic membership fees. 

You Should Prefer: 

  • Activities of a scientific and technical nature 
  • Activities involving processes, machines, and techniques 

You Should Be Able To: 

  • Notice detail in pictures and graphs 
  • See differences in shapes/shadings and measurements of figures/lines 
  • Visualize how flat drawings/pictures would look as solid objects 
  • Make decisions based on standards that can be measured or checked 
  • Deal with people beyond giving and receiving instructions 
  • Work within precise limits or standards of accuracy 
  • Use logical step-by-step procedures in your work 
  • Perform arithmetic operations quickly and accurately 

Math Problem You Should Be Able to Solve: 

How long does it take sound to travel 3.5 kilometers in air if the temperature is 30 degrees celsius? 

Reading Example You Should Be Able to Read and Comprehend: 

For there to be sound waves, there must be a disturbance or vibrations in some medium. This disturbance may be the clapping of hands, or the skidding of tires as a car comes to a sudden stop. 

Writing Example You Should Be Able to Produce: 

You should be able to write a report to the physician explaining the results from your test. 

Thinking Skill You Should Be Able to Demonstrate: 

You should be able to decide the best position for the patient to be in so you can get the most accurate results. 

Diagnostic Medical Sonographers may become certified and use the title Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS). Candidates for certification must meet specific education and experience requirements and pass an examination given by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers. Exam questions are in a multiple-choice true- false format. RDMS's are also required to obtain 30 hours of continuing medical education credit during each 3-year period following initial certification. 



NOTE: On-The-Job Training provided by the employer or a High School Diploma or Equivalent or a Certificate (program of up to one years of study beyond high school) or an Associate Degree (two years of study beyond high school) may qualify a person for this occupation. 

The following education and preparation opportunities are helpful in preparing for occupations in the Career Exploration Script: 




There are no Vocational Education Programs related to this Career Exploration Script 

Students should obtain the local Education & Training Opportunities for information on what happens to students who successfully complete a program. This information is available at each high school or career/technical center. 



Programs in Electrodiagnostic Technology provide opportunities to gain the knowledge and skills needed to use diagnostic equipment such as electrocardiograph and ultrasound scanning machines. 

Courses vary with the type of equipment but may include: 

The Circulatory System 

Medical Terminology 

Cardiac Anatomy & Physiology 

Clinical Experience 

Neuroanatomy & Neurophysiology 

Registry Seminar 

Pathological Imaging 

Machine Operations 

Diagnostic Sonography 

Medical Law & Ethics 

Search for a College and/or Instructional Program 


There are no Apprenticeships related to this Career Exploration Script. 


There are no Military Programs related to this Career Exploration Script.   

E-Learning Courses and Programs    


Since Diagnostic Medical Sonography requires specialized training, opportunities for experience are limited. Volunteer work in hospitals or work as patient care aides or nurse aides/orderlies may provide an opportunity to observe the work of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers. Postsecondary electrodiagnostic technology programs may provide opportunities for experience also. 

School-to-Work opportunities include: 

Informal apprenticeships 


Job shadowing experiences 

Touring a local Diagnostic Medical Sonographer employer 


Volunteer work with a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer employer 

Community service work with an agency 

Direct application to employers is the most common way of entering this field. Assistance in locating jobs may be available from schools that offer ultrasound technology programs and from newspaper want ads. The Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers provides a job placement service for its members. In addition, you should access and search the Internet's on-line employment services sites such as: 


Aureus Medical Group   
Michigan Jobs & Career Portal   

Michigan Talent Bank 


Indeed | one search. all jobs. 




USAJOBS - United States Office of Personnel Management 

You should also enter an electronic resume on these on-line services.  


Earnings of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers vary according to their education, experience, and certification and type, size, and location of the employer. 

Nationally, the annual salaries (mid 2010) of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers who were employed by hospitals and related institutions were: 

Type of Sonographer 


Middle Range 

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer 


$54,500 - $66,900 

The median yearly earnings of "all" workers in the U.S. were $38,459 in 2009. 

In Michigan hospitals, the annual salaries (2010) of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers were:  


Middle Range 



$56,929 - $59,612 



$59,654 - $63,419 



$54,246 - $56,596 


East Central 

$55,702 - $58,240 


Most Diagnostic Medical Sonographers receive paid vacations and holidays; paid sick leave; life, accident, health, and disability insurance; and pension plans. Those employed by hospitals may also receive dental and optical insurance. These benefits are usually paid for, at least in part, by employers. 

Diagnostic Medical Sonographers may advance from staff Technologists, specializing in one or more techniques, to supervisor, instructor, or administrator, depending on their education, skills, experience, and certification. Some may enter jobs in industry as technical advisors and sales representatives for ultrasound equipment and supply manufacturers.  


Nationally, there were more than 50,300 Diagnostic Medical Sonographers registered in one or more specialties by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers in 2008. Employment is expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2018. Advances in medical knowledge and the expansion of hospital health services are creating an increasing demand for the services of well-trained Diagnostic Medical Sonographers. There is a shortage of Sonographers in many areas of the country. Good employment opportunities are expected in both urban and rural areas. The industry distribution of Medical Diagnostic Sonographers looked like this: 


NAICS Industry Title 

% Employed 


Hospitals, public and private 



Ambulatory health care services 


      61100  Educational Services, public and private           1.2




To find employers, click  Employer/Business Locator. 

In Michigan, there are about 1,700 employed Diagnostic Medical Sonographers. Employment of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers in Michigan is expected to increase much faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2018. An average of 50 annual openings is expected, with 25 openings due to growth and 30 to replacement of workers who retire, die, or leave the labor force for other reasons.  Most Diagnostic Medical Sonographers were employed in private hospitals. Others worked in clinics, physicians' offices, and other health care facilities. The outlook for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers in Michigan is expected to be good. However, competition for jobs is expected to increase. 

Opportunities will be best in hospitals, as more hospitals expand their radiologic departments to include diagnostic sonographic services. Also, the growing acceptance of diagnostic medical sonography as a common part of obstetrical and gynecological care will increase employment in this field. 



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American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers  
51 Monroe Street
Plaza East One
Rockville, MD 20850
(301) 738-8401

The Association for Medical Ultrasound 
14750 Sweitzer Lane, Ste. 100
Laurel, MD 20707-5906  
(301) 498-4100

Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers  
2745  Dallas Parkway, Ste 350
Plano, TX 75093 - 8730
(214) 473-8057

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