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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: Good
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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

Figures for sonographers include between $1336 and $1562 per week,* or between
$85 600 and $92 300 per annum,** depending on experience and the type of organisation.
* ABS (2008)
**My Career (2009)

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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

You can get into sonography through a Bachelor of Science in Medical Imaging Science or a related discipline, followed by a postgraduate diploma or masters in sonography. Study is completed at university and as such there are entrance requirements to be met.

Medical Imaging / Sonography Degree (4 Years Undergraduate or 1-4 Years Graduate)
There are two pathways available in Western Australia:
1. Undergraduate followed by a post graduate diploma or;
2. Graduate entry masters.

If you are applying for an undergraduate Medical Imaging Sciences (or related discipline) degree you will need to:
1. Complete Year 12 or equivalent - in Western Australia students need an indicative Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) of around 80 (check with university). The STAT is not accepted. Refer to the TISC site for subject prerequisites.
2. Meet additional course requirements in Western Australia this includes criminal, communicable diseases and working with children screening.

Upon completion of your undergraduate you will need to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Medical Sonography or a Master in Sonography.

If you are applying for graduate entry into a Medical Sonography Degree you will need to:
1. Have completed a bachelor degree in a Health Science discipline or Medical Imaging Science. Some course requirements ask for first or second class honours.

Curtin University offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in Medical Imaging Science and Medical Sonography.

Upon completion of a Postgraduate Diploma or Master in Medical Sonography you need to receive professional recognition from the Australasian Sonographer Accreditation Registery (ASAR) to formally practice as a sonographer.

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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