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.

Focused Assessment with Sonography in Trauma (FAST)

This is a brief series of performing the Focused Assessment with Sonography in Trauma or FAST examination. Note the extended fast would include assessment for Pneumothorax which is covered in the post on Thoracic Ultrasound.

To begin the FAST we should choose probe. Generally we'll use the wide footprint Curvilinear, although you could potentially use a phased array probe here. We find the indicator, put some gel on there just to confirm that the indicator does correspond to the left side of the screen as it is viewed, similar to all other exams we're doing.

So here you can see the gel coming down. We place the probe on the patient generally for blunt trauma starting in the right upper quadrant or right plank to try to get a view of Morison's pouch, the Hepatorenal space. The indicator should be directed towards the patient's head and this is a Coronal plane, the plane is parallel to the bed.

This is the image we should see on the screen. The face of the probe is on the right plank. The indicator is directed towards the patient's head. You can see the Diaphragm superior to the Liver and just below the Liver with the Morison's pouch or Hepatorenal space between the Kidney and the Liver and that's where we're looking for fluid. You can also a rib shadow coming down there.

In-Plane vs Out-of-Plane Approach

The plane of the sonography cuts across the shaft to the needle. We can rotate this to an in plan approach where the needle is in the plane of the ultrasonography. The advantage of this is that you can see the entire tip of the needle. However, the out of plane approach is a little bit better for centering the needle over the vessel of interest.

This shows a target a sign which is what you want to see when you're accessing something in a short axis or out of plane; you can see the needle on the center of vessel. Here again is a short axis procedure where we are accessing the internal jugular. You can see the Endothelium kind of tempting into the internal jugular vein there and we are across or out of plane with the transducer in that particular clip.

Here is an in plane or long axis procedure where the needle is being inserted into the internal jugular vein. You can see the tip and again we're showing this as it would occur in a peripheral vein. You can see the tip of the needle entering the vessel and then we thread the Catheter.

You can check that the Catheter has been threaded by placing the sonography on there. Here we can actually see a Catheter in peripheral vessel. The other thing that you can do is flush the Catheter. Here's we're actually following the wire for central venous access into the IJ. When you flush the Catheter, just take some agitated saline when injected and you can see bubbles through the vessel.