The Difference Between Ultrasound and Sonography

If you are considering a healthcare career, you may be wondering… what is the difference between diagnostic medical sonography and ultrasound technician work?

The fact is, there is one main difference between ultrasound and sonography.

Most people think of pregnancy when they think of getting a sonogram. But both careers can involve creating images of organs, blood vessels, and other aspects of the human anatomy to form an accurate diagnosis. Even though these professions are sometimes used to imply the same thing, by definition, sonographers use ultrasound technology to create images. So technically, that is the difference between sonography vs ultrasound.

But when it comes to ultrasound education programs, it’s not so black and white.

Sonograms are created with technology that uses sound waves instead of radiation to capture these images. Patients and doctors prefer using this approach to invasive procedures because ultrasound is safe and easy to deliver. But this does not mean it’s an easy task to perform as a technician. Whether you are working as a medical sonographer or ultrasound tech at a cardiac, OB/GYN, or other type of facility, you will need a firm grasp of anatomy and physiology. You will also need appropriate training on using these devices. Fortunately, there are ultrasound and sonography programs that span the certificate, Associate’s and Bachelor’s degree levels.

You may find programs online or in your area that use both terms: Ultrasound and Sonography in the name of the program.

sonographer with pregnant patient

For instance, this Diagnostic Medical Sonography program at St. Luke’s Hospital takes 18 months to complete, and helps graduates qualify for the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) exam. The curriculum includes such topics as: abdominal sonography, OB/GYN, breast, neurosonography, and more. This program also gives you experience in several types of clinical facilities.

Now, lets see how that compares to the Diagnostic Ultrasound and Vascular Technology program at the University of Kansas. This program is also 18 months in length, and results in qualification for the ARDMS registry. The curriculum of this program is a little more limited, in that it prepares students mainly in the areas of abdomen, OB/GYN, and vascular technology. However, with the completion of both programs, you would have the opportunity to pursue careers in the field of sonography.

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If you are wondering about the difference between sonography vs ultrasound tech salary, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average salary for diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technicians was $63,630 per year, according to most recent data. On top of that, the field is expected to grow 24% between 2014-24, which is much faster than the national average. So the pay and growth for both seems to be reported in the same set of data, which is good news regardless of which specific area you go into.

Ready to start looking into sonographer and ultrasound tech programs?

Contact schools in your area, and those that offer online programs to find the right one for you.