A sonogram technician is an essential support role for a variety of healthcare professionals. Sonogram technicians operate ultrasound machines to examine patients. Often, ultrasound machines are most associated with pregnancies, but they are also useful for many other diagnostic purposes. Ultrasound machines are a non-invasive, radiation-free and gentle way to provide an image of what may be going on within a person’s body. The ultrasound technician uses ultrasound machines to examine internal tissues and organs and ultimately provide useful data to the healthcare professional that may then diagnose and prescribe a course of treatment for the patient.
Becoming a sonogram technician requires a degree beyond high school. Typically, sonography programs last one to four years, depending on the institution. During school, the prospective sonographer may choose a specialization. Sonogram technicians may specialization on obstetrics (examining the female reproductive system), echocardiography (involving the heart and blood flow), ophthalmology (involving the eye) and others.
Sonogram technicians work very closely with both patients and healthcare professionals. To be successful, good interpersonal skills are essential, in addition to excellent communication skills. A sonogram technician must be able to explain complicated equipment and procedures to patients. Some of the sonographer’s work is often joyous, especially when showing a happy couple the first images of their soon-to-arrive child. But, like other positions in the medical field, sonogram technicians must be prepared and be able to handle sad and emotional situations. It can be hard to deliver bad news to patients, but it is a necessary aspect of this job.
While sonogram technicians usually work with ultrasound machines and interact with patients, the job may also involve some administrative duties. It is not uncommon for sonographers to coordinate schedules and perform other office-support duties. Hours may not be set: Sonographers could be required to be on-call and may be expected to be available at all hours of the day and night, depending on the specific role.
The technical nature of the job and required, specialized knowledge needed for the position make the salary of a sonogram technician fairly lucrative. Sonographers often earn between $26 to $30 dollars per hour. Depending on the level of experience, expertise and the particular health care facility, a sonogram technician may earn close to $70k per year. The job outlook for this position also appears strong. The health care industry remains strong and has remained so despite difficult economic times.