In the allied health field, radiology and sonography are careers with plenty of opportunities for advancement and specialization. Although both are related to diagnostic imaging, their application, methods, and equipment differ. We’re going to break down the field of radiology vs sonography and explore the roles and responsibilities of a sonographer and radiology technician. Let’s dive in to help identify which of these exciting fields may be right for you.
What Is Radiology?
Radiology, also called diagnostic imaging or radiologic technology, is a series of different tests that provide images of bones, organs, soft tissue, and vessels that make up the human body. Radiology gives doctors the ability to see inside the human body. Despite what the name suggests, radiology uses several technologies in addition to radiation to capture images. These might include computerized tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The resulting images are used as a tool to diagnose disease, injury, or congenital deformities.
What Does A Radiology Tech Do?
Tasked with powerful radiologic imaging tools, a radiology technician works with patients and medical providers to capture images that are needed for various stages of a patient’s medical journey.
Radiologic tech duties include performing diagnostic imaging functions such as capturing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, X-rays and computed tomography (CT) scans. Some of these radiology techs move on to specialize in specific techniques such as nuclear medicine, cardiovascular interventional radiography, and radiologic therapy.
- Radiology tech responsibilities include a wide range of tasks including:
- Assessing and evaluating patients
- Guiding and positioning patients for the best quality diagnostic image to be taken
- Work closely with radiologists–who interpret the images and other physicians to ensure the right images are taken Adjust settings and equipment to produce the desired results
- Maintain imaging equipment and upkeep the examination room
- Managing patient records and adding appropriate documentation
Proper imaging examinations by a radiology technician are crucial for proper diagnosis and treatment to take place. As far as growth opportunities, the sector is expected to grow by six percent over the next ten years.
What Is Sonography?
Sonography encompasses a range of diagnostic techniques that uses high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to produce comprehensive visual images of organs, tissues, or blood flow inside the body. In various healthcare situations, sonographers can be referred to as ultrasound techs or medical sonographers. The images gathered from a sonogram or ultrasound exam are crucial parts of giving physicians the information they need to provide the best path of care for their patients.
What Does A Sonographer Do?
Also known as an ultrasound technician, a sonographer tech leverages the power of high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to capture images of various parts of the body for diagnosis and treatment by physicians and medical professionals. Besides operating ultrasound equipment, sonographer duties include communicating closely with patients and physicians to ensure proper outcomes.
- Sonographer responsibilities cover a host of things such as:
- Programming and adjusting scanners
- Determine the best plan of action and what images would be best captured
- Evaluating images for quality and consulting with physicians as needed
- Maintaining patient records and medical notes
- Upkeep of imaging equipment and examination room
Radiology vs Sonography
While both are a part of the diagnostic imaging field, a radiology technologist differs from a sonographer. The first key difference is in the type of technology they utilize. Sonographers use high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) while a radiology tech uses a range of modalities including radiation, magnetic resonance imagery (MRI), and computed tomography. Second, the images produced are often utilized for different purposes. For example, although they can be used to detect issues in the soft tissue, x-rays are primarily used to look at the bones, lungs, gas-filled organs, and joints. By contrast, ultrasounds tend to be used to identify issues related to soft tissue, the interior of organs, the heart, and other things not easily seen on x-rays.
Radiology vs Sonography Salary
When it comes to income, both careers provide tremendous potential for higher earnings. The amount either will earn will be based on factors such as experience, certifications, location, training, and what kind of facility you work from.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average radiology tech salary is 17.77% lower than the average sonographer’s salary. With that said, both fields offer tremendous earning potential far above their averages. This is especially true for those that pursue specializations in advanced fields of both sonography and radiologic technology.
Examples of top-paying radiology tech specializations include radiation therapy, nuclear medicine, and radiological engineering. For sonography, high-income careers include echocardiography technologists, cardiac sonographers, and electrophysiology technicians.
Radiology and sonography careers are both exciting opportunities in diagnostic imaging. Their main points of difference are their path of education and the imaging technology they use. Working closely with physicians, their role is essential in the diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing care of patients.
Both careers offer salaries above the national average and higher earning potential with additional certifications and specialized training. With healthcare jobs expected to grow by thirteen percent between 2021 and 2031, radiology tech jobs will probably be on the same trajectory.
If you are interested in getting an idea of the types of opportunities currently available in diagnostic imaging, browse our ultrasound tech jobs to see if this exciting field is right for you.