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Ultrasound Technician

Career Overview

Ultrasound technicians are often called diagnostic sonographers these days, as the generic term has given way to medical technology.�� Sonographers work with sound waves to produce internal images of the body.����Ultrasound is another form of medical imaging that is similar to the use of X-rays and computer generated images that are the results of CT scans and MRI scans.�� Sonography uses soundwaves to penetrate the body, and then records the echoes of the soundwaves coming off of internal organs and other anatomical structures to produce an image.
Variations of the radio wave length�� and the spread of the exposed area are dictated by the type of exam.�� THe most well known sonogram is the image taken of an in utero fetus that determines its sex prior to birth.�� However sonographers also perform exams on many of the organs in the abdominal cavity including the kidneys, spleen, liver, pancreas and the male reproductive organs.�� Some medical sonographers specialize in neurosonography, which includes the brain, or breast sonography - a series of exams that complement the use of mammography.

Education

Colleges and universities offer formal training in both 2- and 4-year programs that include the study of anatomy, physiology as well as a thorough course of study in the use of sonographic equipment.���� Two-year programs are most prevalent, but many sonographers will continue their education at some point in order to further specialize.�� Some of the educational programs include student hours in a clinical setting.�� While there is currently no state or federal licensing requirement, there are a couple of certifiying agencies that provide some credentialing for a newly graduated sonographer looking for work.

Employment

Medical ultrasound technicians��held about 46,000 jobs in 2006. Half of those jobs were in hospitals. The balance were in laboratories, clinics, doctor's offices or mobile imaging services.

Job Outlook

Faster-than-average employment growth is expected in the sonography field, as more exams are developed that use the technology.�� It is a much safer imaging system that X-ray equipment, which uses radiation levels that can damage both the patient and the technician.

Salary

10th Percentile ��$43,600

Median Salary�� $61,980

90th Percentile�� $83,950

Source:�� U.S. Department of Labor

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