Radiology technology and diagnostic sonography are sister fields, related, but quite different.
Radiology technologists specialize in radiation imaging and therapy, using X-ray, computer tomography and medical resonance imaging to capture images of the human body. On the other hand, sonographers are trained to use ultrasound technology, which emits sound waves to take internal images of the body.
Similar training and divergent career paths
Prospective students interested in pursuing a career in either field have several educational options. Training programs can be found at the certificate, associate or bachelor's degree level in various areas, such as:
- Cardiovascular technology
Typically, training for work in either field includes a mix of both classroom learning and clinical experience.
Certifications and credentials in sonography or radiography
After completing their education, students of either degree focus may choose to pursue a variety of post-graduate credentials or certifications. These options include, but are not limited to, the following:
Sonography. The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography offers credentials in several areas, including the following:
RDMS. Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
RDCS. Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer
RVT. Registered Vascular Technologist
RMSK. Registered in Musculoskeletal
RPVI. Registered in Physicians' Vascular Interpretation
Candidates must meet eligibility requirements, possess the proper prerequisites and pass an examination to earn ARDMS credentials.
Radiology. The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists provides certification at two levels: primary (5 certifications) and post-primary (9 certifications). Example primary certifications include:
- Nuclear Medicine Technology
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging
- Radiation Therapy
Individuals pursuing primary certification must meet academic requirements and meet competency requirements prior to registering for examinations.
Radiologic techs pursuing post-primary certification need to posses primary certification in an appropriate discipline as well as meet clinical experience requirements. Example post-primary specialty certification areas include Mammography, Bone Densitometry and Vascular Sonography.
Professional associations and organizations
- American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT)
- American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (AART)
- International Society of Radiographers and Radiological Technologists (ISRRT)
- American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS)
- American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM)
- Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography
Both fields should experience significant employment opportunity growth between 2012 and 2022, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. During that time, job openings are expected to increase by 46 percent and 21 percent nationally, for diagnostic medical sonographers and radiology technologists, respectively.
If you're ready to get started, find radiology or sonography schools in your area.
American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography, http://www.ardms.org/credentials_examinations/
American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, https://www.arrt.org/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Radiologic Technologists, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292034.htm
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292032.htm