A sonographer, also called an ultrasound technician, is a healthcare professional who uses high frequency sound (ultrasound) to produce a picture (sonogram). While they are called sonographers, any medical professional can actually be a sonographer as well – a nurse, a radiographer, a doctor. They may work in hospitals, doctor’s offices or specialist imaging centres.
What’s the difference between a sonographer and a radiologist?
The difference is in the imaging. Radiology uses radiation-based technologies to produce images, including X-rays. Sonography uses soundwaves, which avoids the potentially harmful side effects of radiation on pregnant women and their babies. So while they both use instruments to produce images, the methods are totally different. However, a radiologist can also be a sonographer if they have the right qualifications.
What areas of practice could I work in?
Sonographers can choose from several specialty areas:
- Gynaecology (pregnancy or foetal)
- Cardiac (heart)
- Vascular (blood flow)
- Abdominal (soft tissue, blood vessels and organs in abdomen)
- Musculoskeletal (joints, ligaments, muscles, tendons)
- Neurological (brain and spinal chord)
How do I become a sonographer?
To start you must complete a bachelor’s in health sciences. It’s usually expected to either have a degree in radiography or medical imaging however other degrees such as medicine or nursing may also be accepted.Then you will need to complete a post-graduate course where you will need to do a clinical placement, which is usually a minimum of 3 days a week. This course needs to be recognised by the Australian Sonographer Accreditation Registry (ASAR).
Then, you can apply for admission to the ASAR to become accredited.