Are you interested in a rewarding career in the medical industry that only requires an associate’s degree, pays well, and offers the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of patients? If so, you may want to seriously consider studying sonography and becoming a medical sonographer.
Diagnostic medical sonographers specialize in using sonograms or ultrasounds to examine body organs and tissue. They also perform many other tasks, including preparing patients for an exam, maintaining diagnostic equipment, reviewing test results, providing a summary of results to other medical professionals, and updating patient records. Additionally, there are various specializations in this field for sonographers who want to specialize in diagnosing problems with a certain part of the body. Specializations include working as a cardiac sonographer, musculoskeletal sonographer, pediatric sonographer, and OB-GYN sonographer.
Bear in mind that a sonographer is not necessarily the same as an ultrasound technician. While the job description is similar and both fields use the same technology, sonographers have more training than ultrasound technicians.
How to Become a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer in Tennessee
Ideally, a young person who is interested in becoming a diagnostic medical sonographer should take classes in related fields before graduation. Such fields include anatomy, physics, and physiology. While high school courses on these topics aren’t mandatory, they do give an aspiring sonographer a good head start in the field. Upon graduating from high school (or after passing a GED exam and receiving a diploma), a person can apply to a college or university that offers courses in medical sonography.
Study courses vary in length depending on the type of diploma you hope to earn. Some colleges and hospitals offer one-year certificate courses but those who want to earn an associate’s degree will need to study for close to two years. Those earning a bachelor’s degree in this field will likely need to study for four years to earn a degree. At Casa Loma College, we offer an associate’s degree course that lasts for 23 months and qualifies graduates to earn specialized certification in select fields. Courses covered in a sonography study program include medical terminology, anatomy, and applied sciences. Courses relevant to the type of sonography one wishes to specialize in are also provided. A clinical component is almost always included as part of the study program to allow students to put what they are learning into practice under the supervision of a certified medical professional.
Sonographers in Tennessee are not required to obtain a state license to practice. However, obtaining professional certification can improve one’s chances of finding a good job. Such certification can be obtained from various organizations, including the National Healthcareer Association, the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, and the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers.
What is the Job Outlook for Sonographers in Tennessee?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that job growth in diagnostic medical sonography will grow by 10% up until the year 2031, which is much faster than average. The agency expects over 10,000 job openings in the field per year as workers in the field retire or transfer to other occupations. As the population ages, cardiovascular programs will likely become increasingly commonplace, and cardiovascular sonographers will be in particularly high demand as medical professionals seek to diagnose and treat elderly patients.
Recent statistics show that there are fewer than 1,600 medical sonographers in the state of Tennessee. This means that there is approximately one sonographer for every 2,000 people in the state. About 490 of these technicians work in the Nashville area. Potential employers in the state include hospitals, clinics, laboratories, doctor offices, outpatient care centers, and educational institutions such as colleges and universities.
READ MORE: Pros and Cons of a Sonography Career
How Much Will a Sonographer in Tennessee Earn Annually?
A sonographer’s salary will vary depending on geographic location, where one works, how much experience one has, and one’s field of specialty. A sonographer who has recently graduated from college and started work, for instance, should not expect to earn as much as a sonographer who has been working in the field for several years. Diagnostic medical sonographers in states such as Hawaii and California earn a mean annual wage of over $100,000 a year; however, one should also consider that the cost of living in these states is higher than other states in the nation.
BLS data shows that the annual mean salary for sonographers in the state of Tennessee is $66,280, which comes to nearly $32 an hour. However, the mean annual wage can vary depending on which part of Tennessee you work in. Sonographers in and around Nashville, for instance, earn a mean annual wage of over $70,000. In South-Central Tennessee, the mean annual wage for sonographers is close to $73,000. Additionally, medical sonographers receive good benefits, including paid time off, a matching 401(K) account, health insurance that also includes dental and vision insurance, assistance in relocating to another city or state, and tuition assistance and/or reimbursement.
Working as a diagnostic medical sonographer is a great way to not only earn a living but also provide life-changing medical care to patients of all ages and walks of life. What’s more, it does not take long years of study to enter this field. A training program or associate’s degree is often all that is needed to start work as a sonographer, although specialization and professional certification are a plus if one intends to apply for competitive jobs.
Is working as a diagnostic medical sonographer right for you? That is a question only you can answer. However, if you have good communication skills, the energy to spend long hours on your feet every day, a good eye for detail, and a desire to make your part of the world a better place, working in sonography can be an ideal career choice. Get in touch with us to learn more about the field, discover what our associate’s degree program has to offer, and start the enrollment process in order to make your career goals a reality.