Rad Tech vs Sonographer: Salary, Job, Education & Suggestions

 Switching a career or choosing a career is a tough choice. There are pros and cons to any and all jobs, but looking into a career that has a great job growth rate and competitive salary is a great place to guarantee that you will have a productive and fruitful career. Two jobs that offer both positive job growth and competitive salary are either a sonographer or radiology techs.


sonographyA sonographer is a non-physician professional who is trained and certified to work with equipment and patient in using high frequency sound waves to create visuals that can help in locating possible issues in the patient. To become a sonography specialist, you can either go through a one-year certified program with healthcare experience, or earn a bachelor's degree if there is no healthcare experience. An annual sonographer salary of $73,360 per year can be expected once working in the field, reference: http://sonographersalarydata.com/. Becoming a medical ultrasonographer is a great way to provide one-to-one care with patients. Become knowledgeable and skilled using high-tech equipment, and become an integral part of a healthcare team. An ultrasonographer is a way to join a rapidly growing profession that has a lot of outlooks. The job is not all positive though, a professional will have to work long hours, endurance is required to be on one's feet all day. A lot of the job is taken up by administrative work. There is also a high injury rate from moving heavy equipment and operating it.

Rad Technician

radiology tech A radiographer is similar to a ultrasonographer in that the profession uses diagnostic imaging examinations to see what is going on inside a patient. A medical radiation technologist specializes in using x-ray, CT,and MRI equipment. In order to become eligible for this profession one must become certified or earn an associates degree. On average the medium salary for radiology technicians is slightly less than $64,450 a year, source: http://radiologytechniciansalarysource.com/. X-ray technicians are an in demand field with employment expected to keep expanding. Similar advantages for a general ultrasonographer apply to a rad tech. There are two unique disadvantages to being a radiologic technologist, work availability is twenty-four hours a day, and there is a minimal risk to radiation exposure.

 If a student is looking for a job that is in an extremely active and growing field than either becoming a sonographer or a rad tech is a best option. Having the ability to be part of a successful team is important to job satisfaction, and both of these careers make you an important part of success. If you want to be in the medical field but feel that earning a Ph.D is not a viable option, than take a look into these two promising careers.

For more information, you can go to Healthcare Occupations - Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Example 1

This is an example of significant fluid in the Pelvis that actually should not be mistaken for the Bladder. The reason you could tell it's not Bladder is that tracks into areas around the Bal although on a single transverse it may actually look like the Bladder. So this is a potential pitfall.

In the left upper quadrant we have to be aware that the stomach is present there. If there's any fluid in the stomach it may appear as a fluid filled structure, but again this is an encapsulated structure, in this case we can see some hyperechoic air bubbles in there, but the fluid does not track between the Spleen and the Kidney.

When we're interrogating the chest we want to be careful about differentiating Pericardial from Pleural fluid. This image actually shows both. In this case there's a small pericardial effusion which tracks between the posture board of the heart and the descending Aorta. There's also a left Pleural effusion that is lateral to the descending Aorta and should not be mistaken for a pericardial effusion.

Sonography: Pelvic, Renal, etc

This is an example of a positive Pelvic view in a Sagittal orientation. You can see the Bladder and the Bladder wall with free fluid superior to the Bladder and you can actually see some lips of dal floating in the free fluid. That's indicative of significant free fluid.

Following the exam of the human Pelvis, we'd like to look at the heart. We place the probe in a Subxiphoid view, the indicator to the patient's right. We often have to flatten this probe out in order to get a view of the heart. If we're unable to get a view there we may try a Parasternal view with the indicator in this case towards the patient's right shoulder to see if we can get a view of the heart Parasternally. 

This is an image of the heart seen from a Subxiphoid view. You can see the Liver which is acting as a window; we're looking through that to the inferior Pericardium, right adjacent to the right ventricle. You can see the Pericardium, this is a negative view. There is no anechoic fluid around or no pericardial effusion.

This is an example of patient with a significant pericardial effusion. You can see that there is a black or anechoic area around the heart interior to the right ventricle that's surrounding the entire heart significant for pericardial effusion.

Couple of pitfalls, one thing to be aware of is to make sure that you're not looking encapsulated fluid. In this case we're actually looking at the Gallbladder in the right upper quadrant. You can tell that the fluid is not tracking acute angles and it's actually enclosed by the Gallbladder wall.

Similarly this is an enclosed fluid collection, actually a Renal Cyst associated with the Kidney. It's very round, does not track into acute angles. It's completely anechoic and thin walled consistent with a simple Renal Cyst.