Ultrasound technicians, or sonographers, generate diagnostic images for physicians through the use of high-pitched sound waves. These ultrasonic frequencies are affected by the density of the tissues they're travelling through, and computer processors inside the ultrasound unit interpret the echoes to create a visual image of the tissues. Sonography is one of the highest-paid professions open to those without a bachelor's degree. In its May 2011 Occupational Employment Statistics, the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a median income of $31.25 per hour, or $65,210 per year, for diagnostic medical sonographers. A median is the point at which half earn more and half earn less. The 25th percentile of sonographers earned up to $25.88 per hour, or $53,830 per year, and the 75th percentile earned over $36.57 per hour, or $76,060 per year. American Society of Radiologic Technologists
The American Society of Radiologic Technologists performs a periodic salary survey of registered technologists, both members and non-members. In its 2010 survey, the average yearly income of sonographers was $68,821 or $33.09 per hour. The ASRT provides a further breakdown by position, with staff sonographers earning $31.85 per hour, and supervisors averaging $38.29 per hour. Experience is also a factor. Sonographers with two years' experience or less averaged $26.89 per hour, while those with six to 10 years' experience earned $29.73 per hour. Veteran sonographers with 21 to 30 years' experience averaged $34.83 per hour. Geography
The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides state-by-state wage figures for sonographers across the country. California boasts the country's highest average wages at $39.30 per hour, or $81,750 per year. Oregon, Massachusetts, Colorado and Connecticut rounded out the list of highest-paying states. Alabama's average wage is the lowest, at $24 per hour, with West Virginia, South Dakota, Mississippi and Tennessee also paying below-average rates. Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that demand for sonographers will grow sharply between 2010 and 2020. It anticipates that 44 percent more technologists will be needed to fill the expected number new positions. This is much higher than the average for all occupations. Many diagnostic procedures that were traditionally performed in hospitals are now done in smaller clinics and even doctors' offices, which accounts for much of this increase. The modest educational requirements, strong demand and relatively high pay make sonography an attractive career option. Some of the most appealing careers in health care can be found in diagnostic imaging. Radiographers, CT and MRI techs, and mammographers all earn very good wages, and spend their days in a clean, well-lit work environment. This is also true for ultrasound technicians, or sonographers. They enjoy a noteworthy combination of high pay and strong job prospects, and their training is relatively brief. Sponsored Link
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Most sonographers enter the field through an accredited two-year educational program at a college, community college or training hospital. These provide a grounding in the basic sciences, as well as course work focusing on human anatomy and physiology, and the interpretation of ultrasound images. Most programs incorporate hands-on clinical experience working with patients, either as part of the core curriculum or by placement in a hospital or clinic. Some colleges offer a four-year bachelor's degree program in sonography. For ambitious sonographers, a bachelor's degree can speed promotion into management or supervisory roles. One-Year Certificate Programs
Another route into sonography is open to medical professionals working in other disciplines. This includes radiographers, CT and MRI technologists, registered nurses and physician assistants. These working...
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