Sonography is the use of sound waves to view images of internal organs. Developed in the 1950s, it's become a vital tool for health care providers. Sonographers use obstetric/gynecologic sonography in prenatal and gynecologic care to monitor the health of the mother and baby and to assess potential gynecologic conditions.
Obstetric/gynecologic sonographers are medical workers who have completed an associate degree or college certificate program in sonography. Diagnostic sonography programs are typically two-year programs that include a mix of sonography classes and clinical experience. Obstetric/gynecologic sonographers work in medical facilities such as doctor's offices, hospitals and laboratories, generally using ultrasound imaging equipment to analyze images of organs and female reproductive systems in order to diagnose gynecologic conditions and monitor the development and health of unborn babies.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 2010 median annual salary of $64,380 for diagnostic medical sonographers. Job setting can affect salary. Colleges and universities were the highest-paying industry, with a median annual salary of $74,940, followed by outpatient care centers at $72,200, management at $71,580, specialty hospitals at $71,090 and staffing agencies at $70,120.
If you're looking to earn a top salary in obstetric/gynecologic sonography, you may need to head to the Golden State. California reported the highest median annual salary, at $84,220 per year. Oregon was the second-highest paying state in sonography, with an annual median salary of $81,010. Alabama was the lowest-paying state, with an annual median salary of $49,910, and its neighbor Mississippi was the second lowest, at $52,960 per year. Although Alabama and Mississipi's median salaries are low in comparison to the average sonography salary in other states, these are rural states with low costs of living.
The BLS predicts that jobs for sonographers will increase by 44 percent through 2020. Several factors contribute to growth expectations, including the replacement of invasive or outdated procedures with sonograpahy and a large, aging population. The biggest employment increases will likely occur in outpatient facilities and laboratories, because many places are using more outpatient procedures due to the high cost of hospitalization.
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