Diagnostic Medical Sonography vs. Ultrasound Technician

There are a lot of terms in the medical industry, and it can be confusing to figure out which career you should actually be pursuing. Two common careers you can pursue in the medical field are Diagnostic Medical Sonography and Ultrasound Technician.

At the basic level, these two careers are quite similar, even though the name is different. Some schools may offer a certificate to become an Ultrasound Technician, but at PCI, we take it one step further. If you want to pursue this career, you can get an associate’s degree as part of our Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program, which can take as little as 100 instructional weeks to complete.

This career has a lot of opportunity, as it is estimated to grow by 12%, which is much faster than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Here’s a general overview:

Diagnostic Medical Sonography Ultrasound Technician
What does this profession do? Uses ultrasound technology to create sonograms to diagnose and treat patients. Uses ultrasound technology to create sonograms to diagnose and treat patients.
What can you expect to learn in these programs?
  • How to perform diagnostic ultrasound examinations with professional equipment
  • How to recognize the sonographic patterns of organs to provide a proper diagnosis
  • How to use imaging equipment
  • How to document and organize patient records to track findings and diagnoses
  • How to perform diagnostic ultrasound examinations with professional equipment
  • How to recognize the sonographic patterns of organs to provide a proper diagnosis
  • How to use imaging equipment
  • How to document and organize patient records to track findings and diagnoses
Can you learn how to examine the vascular system? Yes Maybe
What type of degree can you receive? Associate’s degree Certificate or associate’s degree
How long does it take to become one? Around 2 years 1-2 years
Is this program offered at Pittsburgh Career Institute? Yes No

Both careers work using ultrasound technology to identify and diagnose issues within the body. However, depending on the program and where you decide to pursue an education, the two programs may be quite different.

What’s the Difference Between a Sonogram and Ultrasound?

Understanding the difference between a sonogram and ultrasound is the key distinction between these two job titles.

An ultrasound is the use of sound waves to create an image, and a sonogram is the image created by an ultrasound. Because both require professionals who learn how to perform ultrasounds, they are essentially the same career. However, the title may vary and the education could be different as well.

What Does a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer Do?

Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Ultrasound Technicians use ultrasound technology to monitor and diagnose problems in soft tissue in many places throughout the body. They also work directly with a team of doctors and other medical professionals to accurately document and organize patient records, add treatment recommendations, and make patients feel comfortable during their appointment.

A woman getting an ultrasound

How Are Ultrasounds Used?

Ultrasounds are used for more than documenting the health and growth of prenatal babies. They can also be used to detect tumors, inflammation, and other problems with tissue. Most commonly, a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer may use an ultrasound to examine the:

  • Appendix
  • Intestines
  • Stomach
  • Gallbladder
  • Liver
  • Pancreas
  • Pelvis
  • Vascular system
  • And more

Because ultrasounds are harmless and don’t have the same risks as x-rays or other types of tests, they are often a common first step when performing a diagnosis.

Want to see how much you know about this field? Test your knowledge with our quiz on how well you know Diagnostic Medical Sonography.

How To Become a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

If you’re interested in entering this career, you’ll first want to find the right school. Find a school that has an extensive curriculum that covers what you’re interested in learning and provides good opportunities to build your resume up while you’re still in school.

Depending on the program you choose, you can expect to either receive a diploma or a certificate after completing an accredited Diagnostic Medical Sonography or Ultrasound Technician Program. Once you’ve obtained the appropriate education, you can start looking for career opportunities in doctor offices, hospitals, laboratories, and more!

An ultrasound being performed

Something unique about PCI is that we provide opportunities for externships and laboratory work to make it possible to do what you will be doing every day while you’re still learning. If this sounds like something you want to pursue, learn how to get started at PCI today by checking out our Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program!

Start the Application Process

If you want to enter the medical industry and work in a career that allows you to help people, you can start the application process online! Schedule a tour and start filling out our online application while you’re waiting for us to get in touch.

From there, one of our team members will reach out to schedule your tour, so you can learn more about:

  • When classes start and class schedules
  • What to expect during your education at PCI
  • How to apply for financial aid*

If you want to enter the medical industry, take the next step on your career path at Pittsburgh Career Institute!

*Financial aid is available to those who qualify.

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