The ability to view inside the body without having to perform surgery has resulted in major advancements in medicine. These diagnostic procedures are performed by radiologic technologists and diagnostic medical sonographers. In order to assess patients’ medical conditions, radiographers use diagnostic imaging equipment to perform x rays, CT scans, and MRI scans, while sonographers use sound waves to perform ultrasounds. If you are detail-oriented and have strong technical skills, consider exploring radiography and sonography schools to find out if diagnostic imaging is the healthcare career path for you.
Sonography and Radiologic Technologist School Overview
Becoming a radiologic technologist typically requires the completion of a vocational program or associate’s degree. Bachelor’s degrees in radiography are also available, but tend to be less common. Diagnostic medical sonographers must complete either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree program. For individuals who are already working in another healthcare field, such as nursing, there are also songraphy programs at the certificate level.
A vocational program can usually be completed in 12 to 18 months and an associate’s degree generally takes two years to complete, while a bachelor’s degree takes four years. In order to enroll in a sonography or radiologic technologist school, you will usually need to have earned your high school diploma or pass the GED. Some schools may also ask that you submit standardized test scores, such as the SAT or ACT.
Curriculum for Sonography & Radiography Schools
Radiography and sonography programs are designed to train students to work directly with patients throughout the imaging procedure. Skills that may be useful include attention to detail, compassion, and technical aptitude. The curriculum for the two specialties will differ. Classes that you may take throughout your studies include:
Radiologic Technology Courses
- Principles of radiographic exposure
- Radiographic procedure
- Introduction to radiologic technique
- Patient care procedures
- Positioning & anatomy
- Image production and evaluation
- Imaging modalities
- Radiographic pathology
- Sonography theory
- Medical terminology
- Abdominal and small parts sonography theory
- Anatomy & physiology
- Obstetrical and gynelogical sonography
- Health care technology and informatics
- Basic pharmacology
- Ultrasound physics/instrumentation
- Ultrasound equipment
Sonography and radiography schools will also typically incorporate a clinical component where students can receive hands-on training. In most states, radiologic technologists are required to be licensed. Technologists must graduate from a program accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology and pass an exam offered by the The American Registry of Radiologic Technologist (ARRT). In a few states, diagnostic medical sonographers must also pass a state licensing exam. Some sonographers graduate with a degree in radiologic technology and receive on-the-job training in sonography by their employer.
The Career Day-to-Day After Graduation
Depending on the imaging procedure prescribed by the patient’s physician, the radiologic technician or diagnostic medical sonographer will prepare the patient for the procedure. They will typically inform the patient of what is going to happen and answer any questions that the patient may have about the procedure itself. After the procedure, they will hand off the results to the patient’s physician so that they may be analyzed.
Radiologic technicians and diagnostic medical sonographers typically work in hospital or clinic environments during normal business hours. However, those who work in hospitals might work at night, on weekends or on holidays as patients can become ill or injured any hour of the day. Radiologic technicians and diagnostic medical sonographers might advance their careers by taking management positions within a large clinic or hospital.
Analyzing the Job Market
Diagnostic medical imaging will continue to be used as an alternative to producers that are more costly and invasive. As the number of illnesses and injuries that can be detected with radiography and sonography grows, the demand for radiologic technicians and diagnostic medial sonographers increases. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for radiologic technologists should grow 28% in the coming decade, which is faster than average for all occupations. Employment growth for diagnostic medical sonographers will likely be must faster than average at a rate of 44%. As hospital stays becoming increasingly shorter, there wil be a surge in employment for out-patient care facilities, such as diagnostic imaging centers and doctors’ offices.
While employment opportunities will generally be favorable in all regions, areas with high populations will typically have the most prospects. However, rural areas frequently report difficulty in finding qualified applicants. Although there are fewer overall jobs available, those with formal training and experience will likely do well in the rural employment market. In 2012, the median annual wage for radiologic technologists was $53,240, and diagnostic medical sonographers earned $65,860. Individuals with multiple certifications will likely have access to the best job prospects. Join this healthcare field at the leading edge of medical technology by viewing radiography and sonography schools.
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