How To Become a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer in 5 Steps

Diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians, including vascular technologists operate special imaging equipment to create s or to conduct tests.

Most diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians, including vascular technologists, work full time. Most diagnostic imaging workers are employed in hospitals, while most of the rest worked in physicians’ offices or medical and diagnostic laboratories.

Diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians, including vascular technologists, need formal education, such as an associate’s degree or a postsecondary certificate. Many employers also require professional certification.

Overall employment of medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians is projected to grow 14 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 12,000 openings for medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians.

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians with similar occupations.

Learn more about medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

Diagnostic Medical Sonography General – Career Video

Diagnostic medical sonographer skills

These professionals should have a unique skill set, including:

What is a diagnostic medical sonographer?

A diagnostic medical sonographer, also called an ultrasound technician, uses special equipment to produce internal images of the body. Physicians and other medical professionals use these images to make diagnoses to treat illnesses. The equipment they use produces sound waves that create images of tissue, organs and blood vessels. Diagnostic medical sonographers can specialize in certain areas of the body, such as the abdomen, chest, brain or musculoskeletal system.

Diagnostic medical sonographers can work in a variety of health care settings, such as hospitals and doctors offices. They could also work in clinics dedicated to sonography. 

What does a diagnostic medical sonographer do?

Though diagnostic medical sonographers can specialize in different areas, they often perform similar duties, including:

Average salary

Sonographers need to earn a degree and obtain certification. Here are the steps you can take to become a diagnostic medical sonographer:

1. Choose your educational path

You can complete a two- or four-year program to earn a sonography degree, or you can complete a diagnostic medical sonography certificate program. Earning a certificate usually takes between 12 to 24 months depending on the program. Many employers accept any of these educational paths as long as it is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.

If you have a program certificate or associate degree, employers may ask for more experience. Having a bachelors degree could serve as a substitute for some experience.

During any education program, youll learn the basics of ultrasound and sonographic scanning, including anatomy, biochemistry and medical terminology. Youll also gain practical experience in a clinical setting to prepare you for a career in sonography.

2. Apply for a license

3. Get experience

You can apply for jobs as soon as you graduate from your program. Gaining general experience in the field can help you learn about the various types of sonography and prepare you for a specialization. It can be helpful to seek entry-level roles in which you can connect with experienced professionals and begin building a network in the health care industry. You can also join a diagnostic medical sonography organization to connect with thousands of professionals nationwide.

As you gain experience, continue to update your resume with all your responsibilities, skills and achievements earned. The more experience you get, the higher salary you can earn.

4. Consider a specialization

Diagnostic medical sonographers can perform general imaging services or they can specialize in an area. Specializing can offer a higher salary in many situations. There are many specialization areas, including:

Sonography certifications

Though not required, certifications can show your dedication and proficiency in the sonography field. There are two accreditation agencies that offer sonography certifications:

American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS)

Most sonographers seek certifications from this organization. Each certification shows extensive knowledge in the specialization. To earn any certification from the ARDMS, youll need to meet certain education and experience requirements. You will also need to pass an exam and renew your credential based on current ARDMS guidelines. They offer a wide variety of specialty certifications in five main categories:

American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT)

The ARRT offers certifications for many health care professionals, including sonographers. To earn any sonography certification for the AART, you need to submit proof of your education and clinical experience. You also need to pass a computer-based exam and renew your certification according to the guidelines. They currently have three certifications dedicated to sonography:


How long do most diagnostic medical sonographers go to school?

Many education paths are available for prospective sonographers, but the most common is a 2-year degree through an accredited sonography training program. Bachelor’s degrees are also available, as are 1-year certificate programs in sonography for persons already trained in another healthcare field.

What type of sonographers make the most money?

The Highest-paying Specialties for an Ultrasound Technician:

Neuro (brain) sonography: $112,000. Pediatric cardiac sonography: $80,000. Cardiac sonography: $79,000. Vascular sonography: $68,000.

Is a sonographer the same as an ultrasound tech?

an ultrasound tech. Ultrasound technician and medical sonographer are two names for the same job. The terms are used interchangeably to refer to someone who performs an ultrasound (reading of sound waves) and one who produces a sonogram (a photo of sound waves bouncing off the internal parts of the body.)

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