A sonographer screens patients using an ultrasound device to test and detect medical issues.
Learn the pros and cons of becoming a maternity ward, cardiovascular, or another type of sonographer.
Pros of Being a Sonographer
1. Decent Salary
According to Indeed’s Career Guide, a sonographer can make an average of $109,587 per year.
This depends on the type of sonography work you want to do.
Of course, the amount of experience you already have and your chosen specialty determines your salary.
Your sonographer’s salary can range from $60,000-$90,000 during your first few years.
The average annual earnings would be about $75,920.
One way to earn extra money as a sonographer too is to work some overtime hours.
It’s not that difficult to earn a living wage in this profession.
That’s for sure.
2. Fulfillment helping people
If you want to help people but don’t know what caretaking career would most suit you, becoming a sonographer can provide you with a start.
Any technology interest you have would also make this profession an easy transition for you, especially if you have any previous health sector experience.
3. Relatively short training period
You probably can gain medical experience as an assistant to a sonographer while still in school.
For that, you may earn a certificate that would take you less than a year to achieve.
Then, you can earn an associate degree in two years to become a sonographer yourself.
I personally like the idea of only having to attend classes for about two years and earning $60,000 a year or more.
4. High demand (faster than average)
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the need for medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians to grow by 10%.
That’s faster than average growth for this profession until 2031.
5. Work in a clean, sterile environment
Some people think of hospitals or doctor’s offices and clinics as places full of germs.
I realize that, but I also have experienced the clean sterile environment of most medical centers.
If you want to work in a profession that doesn’t call for wearing jeans you’re going to muddy up, working as a sonographer may work out for you.
The job doesn’t require you to get your hands all bloody like a surgeon either.
What’s more, working in a place that keeps up with current sanitation laws could put you at ease.
You probably won’t worry as much about catching a contagious disease as much as if you’re digging trenches somewhere closer than six feet away from people.
6. Paid time off
I think paid time off is one of the most priceless job benefits you can receive.
Some people can’t even afford to take days off from their salaries.
Paid time off would award you the opportunity to do that.
You can take vacations, stay home if sick, or decide you need a self-care day.
If you can plan your paid time off as far in advance as possible, that’s even better for you.
It gives you something to look forward to – that much-needed time of relaxation.
7. Help with tuition costs
Some healthcare employers offer tuition assistance.
This means they will fund at least part of your schooling and offer on-the-job training at no cost to you.
What’s more, you may even get paid while in your training period, especially if you spend time volunteering in a clinical setting.
8. Health and retirement benefits
Health benefits for sonographers may include dental, medical, and vision care.
Some places may even provide insurance for your children and pets.
I recommend that you search through different job postings and consult a career counselor about benefits offerings.
9. Not usually boring
When working as a medical sonographer, you don’t have time for boredom.
Your typical day will probably include helping one patient after another.
That doesn’t mean there’s never a “lull,” but during the slower times, you probably have paperwork to process and machines to clean.
You won’t have much time to sit around doing nothing unless you’re on break.
10. Steppingstone to other health careers
It’s not uncommon for someone who has a certificate or an associate degree to seek additional education.
Maybe you can earn your bachelor’s degree and become a registered nurse.
Otherwise, you can continue to pursue your dream of taking on an advanced nursing position or becoming a doctor.
Usually, moving on to another medical-related position comes easier if you already work in the environment, in my opinion.
That’s true with any profession, but healthcare opportunities seem to abound.
Cons of Being a Sonographer
1. Mental and physical burnout
I know when I am tired, I don’t want to deal with people that much.
That’s why I am a writer and not a sonographer.
People in the health profession usually want to show compassion to others, but it’s not as easy to do at the end of a shift as it is at the beginning of it.
That’s true for sonographers about as much as it is for nurses, doctors, or people in other stressful lines of work.
You’re going to feel quite a bit of physical and mental exhaustion working as a sonographer.
The burnout increases if you work 10 or more hours per day at least 5-6 days in a row.
Then, your performance declines, and your patience decreases if you feel overworked.
That’s not a good thing.
Don’t push yourself to the point of a physical or mental breakdown.
2. Dealing with anxious patients
Every case presents its unique challenges.
It can be exhilarating at times, constantly trying to solve new problems for people who need treatment.
However, you may at times not know how to handle anxious patients.
Sometimes, no matter what you tell them, their anxiety doesn’t seem to decrease.
Instead of helping them have their cardiovascular signals read, you may feel like sending them to a psychiatrist.
Sonographers require just as much patience as people filling other medical roles.
3. Long hours, irregular schedule
It’s the nature of the healthcare system.
You can’t plan when someone will have a heart attack, an accident, a serious illness, or a panic attack.
Emergencies happen when they happen, and you may not know when you’ll work the following week because of them.
You may end up on call sometimes and never have the same schedule two weeks in a row.
It makes it tough to plan around your extracurricular activities, children, hobbies, etc.
Even if you’re performing routine cardiovascular readings for patients, you still may have a varied schedule.
It might drive you crazy, wishing you had more of a routine sometimes.
By the way, you may end up also working for a place that requires you to work mandatory overtime.
Hopefully, you can find an employer who understands your limitations though and will work with you.
4. Weekend, night, and holiday shifts
In addition to working probably 10 or more hours a day, sometimes, you may have to work all weekend.
Nights and holidays are other times you often can’t ask off.
This frustrates you and your family, friends, and other people you care about.
Working nights, weekends, and holidays are probably one of the least pleasant attributes of “adulting.”
I myself have worked many times in my life outside of the regular 8-4:30 or 9-5 office hours schedule.
Not everyone has a Monday-Friday job either, and those who do may not understand that.
They may even feel disappointed that they don’t see you.
Otherwise, you’ll feel like quitting sometimes because of it.
5. Hard walking around all day
You’ll need some supportive shoes when working as a sonographer.
Otherwise, your feet will get cold.
Also, you will risk developing the sharp sciatic pain that travels from your feet to your lower back.
Make sure you take your breaks when offered them to reduce the chance of this.
6. The potentially agonizing certification process
Your schooling may be the least of your worries when becoming a sonographer.
Just make sure you attend a program that’s approved by your state’s health board.
What’s troubling is the prescription drug epidemic around the world.
You have to make sure you stay clean for the required amount of time before becoming a sonographer.
This is necessary even if you don’t administer medication on your job.
The propensity for drug misuse is one reason for the agonizing certification process.
You’re going to have to undergo a rigorous criminal and background check.
Proof of identity and reference checks are also required before becoming certified.
7. Misreading results could be catastrophic
Don’t think that becoming a sonographer is all fun and games.
It may not require as much out of you as working in other roles, such as a practical or registered nurse, but you’re going to still be busy.
When you’re busy and have an influx of patients, mistakes could happen.
However, make sure you don’t misread a patient’s sonogram results or misfile their paperwork.
It could be catastrophic for them, and the medical department you work for could get sued.
Pros and Cons of Being a Sonographer – Summary Table
|Pros of Being a Sonographer||Cons of Being a Sonographer|
|1. Decent Salary||1. Mental and physical burnout|
|2. Fulfillment helping people||2. Dealing with anxious patients|
|3. Relatively short training period||3. Long hours, irregular schedule|
|4. High demand (faster than average)||4. Weekend, night and holiday shifts|
|5. Work in a clean, sterile environment||5. Hard walking around all day|
|6. Paid time off||6. The potentially agonizing certification process|
|7. Help with tuition costs||7. Misreading results could be catastrophic|
|8. Health and retirement benefits|
|9. Not usually boring|
|10. Steppingstone to other health careers|
Should You Become a Sonographer?
Now that I almost scared you out of sonography, you shouldn’t have a problem in this profession if technology is your strong suit.
It’s an excellent career choice if you’d rather work with machines than a scalpel or other surgical equipment.
One reason to become a sonographer is you get to observe how people respond in emergency situations.
Then, if you want to, you perhaps may consider working as an Emergency Medical Technician in the future.
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