Diagnostic medical sonographers work with equipment that uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of a patient’s tissues and organs. Doctors and specialists use these images to make a more accurate diagnosis of a patient’s condition.

It’s one of the fastest-growing jobs in all of healthcare. An aging population staying more active than previous generations is one driver of the growth, as is awareness among more people on the benefits of preventive medicine. That often involves getting a sonogram.

Diagnostic medical sonographers are in demand across the country, and Wisconsin ranks as one of the states with the highest demand. Marian University offers two diagnostic medical sonography programs: an on-campus BS in Diagnostic Medical Sonography and an online BS in Diagnostic Medical Sonography Completion Program.

What Does a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer Do?

A specialist in sonography uses a sound transducer in a painless, non-intrusive procedure that creates images called sonograms or ultrasounds. Ultrasound techs may specialize in certain parts of the body. They also work closely with physicians and surgeons before, during, and after procedures.

Sonograms typically create images of the appendix, intestines, stomach, gallbladder, liver, pancreas, and pelvis. Some sonographers have the training to create sonograms of the vascular system and blood flow. They’re the first people called in when doctors suspect a disease may be present within a patient.

Day to day tasks in the field include:

  • Properly preparing patients for the sonography procedure, including recording medical history
  • Working with and maintaining imaging equipment
  • Ensuring images are high quality and cover the area needed for a diagnosis
  • Recognizing the differences between normal and abnormal images
  • Analyzing images and information to provide an accurate summary of findings for physicians
  • Keeping track of patient records

Options for Careers in Diagnostic Medical Sonography

Because sonography is used in so many different areas of healthcare, graduates from a sonography program have a wide range of career choices. They include the following specialties.

  • Abdominal sonographers
  • Breast sonographers
  • Cardiac sonographers (echocardiographers)
  • Musculoskeletal sonographers
  • Pediatric sonographers
  • Obstetric and gynecologic sonographers
  • Vascular sonographers
  • Cardiographic or electrocardiogram (EKG) technicians
  • Cardiovascular invasive specialists
  • Pulmonary function technologist

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer Salary

Demand is high for diagnostic medical sonographers across the country. Nationwide, the number of jobs in the field is expected to increase 12% by 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In Wisconsin, that number is 16%.

The BLS reports that the average pay for sonographers and ultrasound technicians reached $77,790 nationwide in May 2020. Wisconsin sonographers earn even more, with an average salary of $86,810. The top 25% in Wisconsin made more than $99,200.

Marian University Diagnostic Medical Sonography Programs

Marian offers two diagnostic medical sonography programs designed to give professionals the education they need at different stages in their careers.

The on-campus BS in Diagnostic Medical Sonographer teaches students skills in operating medical imaging equipment and the analytical, critical thinking, and leadership skills needed to succeed. Students do not need prior sonographer experience. Graduates from the program are prepared to take the DMS licensing exam.

The online completion program gives sonographers with a two-year certificate a chance to earn their bachelor’s degree. The curriculum is designed for professionals with experience in the field who want to boost their careers with a four-year degree. Applicants with certification from the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) or Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) earn 60 credit hours toward their degree.