Many Diagnostic Medical Sonographers spend their careers working in imaging departments at hospitals, clinics and physician officers. However, there are options for advancement with the right preparation in terms of education and the ability to show required experience. The sonographer can become a department head or other administrator, specialize in one or more areas of sonography, become a faculty member in an instructional program, or work in private industry.
No matter what career path is chosen, there are educational and certification requirements that sonographers must meet. Following are some things to consider during career planning.
1. Plan the Desired Career Path for 5 years Down the Road
It is important to think about where the career path should lead in 3-5 years. The reason for planning ahead is that it enables the sonographer to pursue additional certifications in a specialty or gain experience in a certain type of imaging. There is also time to pursue additional education, like completing additional sonography training in new technologies or procedures.
2. Earn the Appropriate Degree
Diagnostic Medical Sonographers can decide to move into administration like director of an ultrasound department or manager of an outpatient clinic performing ultrasound scans. These type of positions require a Bachelors Degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Many sonographers pursuing a bachelor’s degree already have an associate’s degree in sonography and professional experience. They choose to earn a higher degree in order to advance their career and move out of entry-level positions.
A Master’s Degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography opens up additional career opportunities in teaching, medical research, writing and publishing, and consulting in private industry.
3. Consider Specializing
The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography offers sonography program graduates examinations to earn credentials, and there are specialties. Earning the specialty credentials opens up new career pathways and higher salaries.
For example, a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer may decide to specialize in echocardiography. Upon meeting the prerequisites for taking the specialty exam, the sonographer can take the exams in adult echocardiography, pediatric echocardiography and fetal echocardiography to become a Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer.
4. Network with Other Professionals
Develop a strong network of professional associations in sonography and other health fields. Good strategies are joining organizations like the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (SDMS). The membership organization works to promote medical sonography through educational programs, stimulating research, and publishing a scientific journal. Not only can the sonographer network with other professionals, but the person develops connections for writing, presenting and publishing. These are activities that can raise professional stature.
Other professional groups include the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM), the Society for Vascular Ultrasound (SVU) and the American Society of Echocardiography (ASE).
More networking methods include attending workshops held by local healthcare facilities or universities and volunteering services at medical facilities for charitable purposes. Sonographers also hold workshops and speak at local events.
5. Consider Private Industry
Sonographers work in many more places than just hospitals, clinics and physician offices. They are also employed in equipment manufacturing, sales and consulting. Some sonographers earn additional specific credentials so they can specialize in a certain area of Diagnostic Medical Sonography. However, it is advisable to earn as many ARDMS credentials as possible if planning to go to work for a private company.
It is beneficial to consider all the career options before deciding on the best path. Sonographers should set goals and lay out a clear plan for reaching those goals. It is a good idea to talk to other Diagnostic Medical Sonographers who are in the various positions of faculty, administrator, researcher, sales and so on. This can help to clarify long-term goals. The one thing the sonographer should never do is think that sonography has limited career options because that is simply not true.