What Is the Job Outlook for an Ultrasound Tech?

Health care is one of the most stable industries out of all the job markets. In fact, it was the largest industry in 2006, with approximately 14 million jobs for salary and wage workers and 438,000 jobs for the self-employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is projected to generate more jobs than any other industry by 2016, adding about 3 million more employment positions to the market. Employment of diagnostic medical sonographers, which includes ultrasound technicians of all specialties, should grow by 19 percent in the next seven years. This growth trend is faster than the average of other occupations.

Due to its noninvasive nature, ultrasound technology is expected to dramatically increase in popularity. Unlike surgical procedures, which are costly and time-consuming as patients also must take the time off to recover after such operations, ultrasound readings are relatively quick and completely painless. Patients only need to have some ultrasound gel applied to the area being scanned and wait for the ultrasonographer to conduct the reading. After the imaging is done, the gel is simply wiped off and the patient can leave without any additional side effects. In addition to the ease and convenience in which ultrasound diagnostics are conducted, this type of reading is also preferable because of it is considerably less harmful than other diagnostic methods, such as X-Rays that use potentially damaging radiation for imaging.

A major part of the healthcare industry’s success is the fact that no matter what trends come in and fade out, the population will always be in need of professionals who can take care of illnesses, aging, or whatever else life can offer up. Especially today, when the world’s population has grown astronomically within the past generation, health care workers are in more demand than ever. The world’s elderly population is growing also, further heightening the need for convenient and noninvasive medical diagnostic tools such as ultrasonography.

Though most ultrasonographers will be employed by hospitals, private health care facilities will soon also begin employing ultrasound technicians as advancements in medical technology will allow the equipment and procedures to be used outside of hospitals. Soon, ultrasonographers will be working at birthing centers and physician offices across the country instead of mostly at hospitals. The average salary for ultrasonographers was $57,160 a year in May 2006, according to the most recent information available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A partnership between the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography and the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) will work to ensure that all medical sonographers work in ideal conditions. As sonographers often conduct delicate work, they are prone to work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), according to the OSHA website. Luckily, OSHA created guidelines for employers and employees to follow in order to prevent cases of work-induced MSDs, including giving employees proper training with the equipment and encouraging employers and employees alike to participate in forums regarding current issues in ultrasound technology occupations.