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Sonography vs. Radiology: What’s the Difference?

As we learned in the Pandemic, the medical field is severely understaffed. And while that’s unfortunate for everyone who needs medical procedures, it’s a good thing if you’re looking into joining the medical field.

Both radiology and sonography have career paths with short training periods and good average salaries.

Want to know the difference between sonography vs. radiology to figure out which is right for you? Read below.

Radiology

There is a range of professions in the radiology field. You can spend anywhere from two to twelve years training for one of these positions.

The position with the most training is a doctor of radiology. These MDs have to go to med school, do an internship, a residency, and then any specialization training. Once they pass their boards, they are licensed doctors who can prescribe medicine like any other MD.

If you’ve ever had an X-ray, CT, or MRI, a radiologist was the one who looked over your scan to diagnose you (or not). They’re trained in reading medical scans and mostly work with other doctors, which reduces their patient-doctor contact.

If you’ve always wanted to be a doctor but aren’t particularly interested in the clinical bedside-manor aspect of it, this is a good field to go into. You may have some interaction with patients, but it’s minimal.

Depending on your preferences, you may train to be a surgeon who uses imagery to conduct minimally invasive surgeons. Most of the time you’ll be on a surgery team, not doing the direct cutting.

Radiation Oncologists

When people have cancer, they need constant imaging scans. Radiation Oncologists are doctors of radiology who specialize in treating and diagnosing cancer.

Radiology Assistants or Technologists

If you don’t want to go to med school but are still interested in radiology, you have options. All medical imaging procedures need people to walk patients through the process and operate the machinery.

This could include things like conducting MRIs, mammograms, operating X-ray machines, and more.

These mid-level medical positions take a year or two of training, though more is always available if you want to specialize. You can make around $60,000 a year with this career path.

There are opportunities in both the public and private sectors, including hospitals, private clinics, and public health departments.

Sonographers

While radiologists, radiologist technicians, and sonographers all work in medical imaging, sonographers have less range than radiology professionals.

Medical sonographers deal specifically with ultrasounds, which can be used for a variety of issues, not just pregnancy.

Ultrasounds detect tissue in the body but are less involved than an MRI or CT scan.

Many sonographers go into the profession to work with OBGYNs, as they get to be the one that shows expectant families’ images of the fetus. It’s mostly a happy job, but you will have times you have to communicate bad news. You may need to take some OBGYN courses as part of your sonographer training.

Sonographers work one on one with patients, so you’ll want to have a passion for working with people.

Sonographer training takes anywhere from one to three years and will earn you an average of $50,000 – $90,000 depending on your level of training.

Sonography vs. Radiology

As you can see above, there’s a clear-cut difference between radiology vs. sonography. One concentrates on all types of medical imagery, while the other focuses on ultrasounds and ultrasound diagnostics.

Both are great mid-level medical careers with lots of job growth and thousands of openings.

We hope you found this guide to sonography vs. radiology helpful. For more lifestyle content, we invite you to browse our blog.

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