Medical sonographers use special equipment to direct sound waves into the patient's body to generate an image so doctors can diagnose medical conditions. Ultrasound images are one image sonographers work with. Employment in this area should increase by 19 percent through the year 2016 as people age and need more ultrasounds. Many medical sonographers choose a specialty. Obstectric sonographers specialize in the female reproductive system. There are many ways and places to train to become an obstetric sonographer.
Acquire a background in science and math or gain experience in another health care profession. Some training programs prefer applicants with that type of background and will accept them into a program before they accept others.
Get formal training in a two year associate's degree program or a four year bachelor's degree program from an accredited college. Two year programs are more common. Take classes in anatomy, physiology, basic physics, medical ethics, patient care and instrumentation. Some employers also accept workers who have completed one year certificate programs if they already work in the health care field.
Register with an organization such as the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (see Resources). You'll have to pass a general physical principles exam, an instrumentation exam and an obstetric specialty exam. You'll also need to take continuing education classes to keep up with new technology and changes in the obstetric sonography field and to remain registered.
Work on having good hand-eye coordination so you get good quality images. Practice good communication skills so you can explain the procedure you're doing. You'll be recording your patient's medical history, examining the fetus of a pregnant patient to keep track of the baby's health and growth and taking measurements. You'll choose the best images to store, calculate, analyze results and adjust and maintain equipment.
Prepare to be on your feet for hours at a time and be able to lift and turn disabled patients. Obstetric sonographers usually work in hospitals or medical facilities in a dark room. Some work with providers that travel to patients in places that don't have access to imaging equipment, while others are contract workers that travel to many facilities in the same area.
Average earnings of diagnostic medical sonographers were between $48,890 and $67,670 a year in 2006. Most obstetric sonographers work a 40 hour week, although some are required to work nights and weekends and be on call for emergencies.
Use ergonomically correct equipment or equipment designed with safety in mind. This will lower your risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome, eye strain and back and neck strain, which is common among obstetric sonographers.