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Summary of occupation

Sonographers are health professionals who use specialised equipment to create visual images of organs, tissues or blood flow inside the body. These images are then used by physicians to form medical diagnoses.
Sonography or ultrasonography uses high frequency sound waves (ultrasound) transmitted through a hand-held device called a transducer.
There are approximately 361 sonographers in Western Australia, most of who are located in the metropolitan area.

ANZSCO description: Operates ultrasound equipment to acquire,  interpret and selectively record anatomical images, physical data and  real-time physiological information for medical diagnostic purposes  in conjunction with Medical Practitioners.
Alternative names: Imaging Specialist, Ultrasonographer, Vascular Technologist
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

Sonographers need:

  • to enjoy science
  • clinical, practical and interpretive skills to obtain high quality ultrasound images
  • observation, analytical, diagnostic and recording skills
  • high interpersonal and communication skills to deal effectively with patients and other medical staff
  • compassion towards patients (particularly during invasive procedures)
  • physical strength (they are often on their feet for long periods and can be required to physically assist patients)
  • to enjoy challenges and problem solving
  • an affinity with technology and to embrace ongoing learning as part of their professional development
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Working conditions

Sonographers usually work in radiological clinics however there are also opportunities in public and private hospitals. Recently some sonographers have started their own businesses in partnership with other medical imaging professionals.

Most full-time sonographers work about 40 hours a week. Those who are hospital-based may be required to work evenings and weekends and at times be on call.

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Salary details

On average, sonographers, classified under medical imaging professionals, can expect to earn between $1 500 and $1 999 a week ($78 000 and $103 999 a year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a sonographer develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

Advancements in tools and technology have resulted in more complex patient examinations being undertaken by sonographers. Specific tools and technologies include:

  • ultrasound monitors and video equipment
  • transducers and
  • database and medical software.
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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a sonographer, you usually have to complete a Graduate Diploma or Masters of Medical Sonography accredited by the Australian Sonographer Accreditation Registry (ASAR). Check their website for a full list of accredited courses available in Australia. 

In Western Australia, Curtin University offers a four year Bachelor of Science (Medical Imaging Science), followed by a three year part time Masters of Medical Sonography. Contact the university for more information.

​To work as a sonographer in Australia, you must be accredited by ASAR.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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