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Jobs in this field combine skills in high-tech medical technology with a genuine desire to help people.

diagnostic medical sonographer

Education Requirements:

To enter this career, you will need to complete a program in diagnostic medical sonography. Accredited programs are offered by colleges and hospitals. Depending on the program you can earn an associate or bachelor's degree, or a certificate. Most sonography programs require two to four years of study. Associate degree programs are the most common option. A certificate program is a good option for people already trained in other health care careers. To enter certificate program, you must be a graduate of a two-year program in a related areas of health care such as nursing, radiologic technology or respiratory care.

Entrance criteria vary by program. You can apply for some programs with just a high school diploma. You will need credits in science and math. For other programs, you need experience or training in a related health care job. Choose an educational program that is certified by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAHEEP) 

Some employers might prefer a bachelor's degree; however, you could get started on this career with an Associate Degree.

Job Tasks:

  • Obtain and record accurate patient history, including prior test results or information from physical examinations.

  • Prepare patient for exam by explaining procedure, transferring patient to ultrasound table, scrubbing skin and applying gel, and positioning patient properly.

  • Select appropriate equipment settings and adjust patient positions to obtain the best sites and angles.

  • Operate ultrasound equipment to produce and record images of the motion, shape, and composition of blood, organs, tissues, or bodily masses such as fluid accumulations.

  • Observe screen during scan to ensure that image produced is satisfactory for diagnostic purposes, making adjustments to equipment as required.

  • Observe and care for patients throughout examinations to ensure their safety and comfort.

  • Determine whether scope of exam should be extended, based on findings.

  • Decide which images to include, looking for differences between healthy and pathological areas.

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

  • Maintain records that include patient information, sonographs and interpretations, files of correspondence, publications and regulations, or quality assurance records such as pathology, biopsy, or post-operative reports.

Skills and Abilities Needed to Perform Job:


Knowledge of:

  • Administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, etc.

  • Computers and electronics.

  • Principles and processes for providing customer and personal services.

  • The information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases and deformities.

  • Physics—prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, atmospheric dynamics and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub-atomic structures and processes.

  • Mathematics—arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics and their applications.

  • The English Language – structure and content.

  • Knowledge and use of Microsoft software (Office, Excel, Work Outlook).

  • Knowledge and use of medical software (medical procedure coding, MEDITECH and patient medical record software).

  • Oral Comprehension – Ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented in writing.

  • Oral Expression – Ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.

  • Near Vision – Ability to see details at close range.

  • Problem Sensitivity –Ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong.

  • Information Ordering – Ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules.

  • Critical Thinking – Ability to use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions.

  • Control Precision – Ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine to exact positions.

  • Written Comprehension – Ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.

  • Ability to use scientific rules and methods to solve problems.

Desired Work Style Attributes:

  • Attention to details

  • Dependability – Reliable and responsible

  • Independence — Developing one’s own way of doing things

  • Integrity – Honest and ethical

  • Concern for Others

  • Adaptability/Flexibility

  • Cooperation – Pleasant with others

  • Stress Tolerance – Accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations

  • Self-Control – Maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations

  • Initiative – Willing to take on responsibilities and challenges

  • Adaptability/Flexibility – Open to change (positive or negative)

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