Mobile medical sonographers perform the same functions as other diagnostic medical sonographers, except they travel to various locations. Some may travel to different hospitals or nursing homes, while others work rotational shifts between several locations. Mobile sonographers use ultrasound imaging equipment to detect injuries or diseases of the abdomen, skeletal system, breast and heart. They also take sonograms of expectant mothers to track the growth and health of fetuses. If you want to become a mobile sonographer, you need at least an associate degree in sonography. In return, you can expect to earn an above-average salary.
Salary and Qualifications
The average annual salary for a mobile sonographer was $67,000 as of 2013, according to the job site Indeed. To become a mobile sonographer, you need at least an associate degree in sonography and certification through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists or American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers. Employers may also prefer that you have one or more years of experience, for example, before you start traveling to various locations. Other essential qualifications are physical stamina, hand-eye coordination, an attention to detail and interpersonal and technical skills.
In 2013, average salaries for mobile sonographers varied the most in the West , according to Indeed, where they earned the least in Hawaii and most in California at $43,000 and $73,000, respectively. Those in the Midwest made $47,000 to $70,000 per year in South Dakota and Illinois, respectively. If you worked as a mobile sonographer in Maine or New York, you'd earn $58,000 or $81,000, which represented the lowest and highest earnings in the Northeast. In the South, you'd make the most in Washington, D.C., and least in Louisiana -- $76,000 and $54,000, respectively.
A mobile sonographer may earn higher salaries working for specific types of employers, especially those in which other sonographers earn more. For example, diagnostic medical sonographers' salaries were highest in colleges and universities as of May 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics -- $79,940. They also earned above-average salaries of $72,200 in outpatient centers versus the industry average of $66,360 for all diagnostic medical sonographers. Mobile sonographers may also earn higher salaries in colleges and outpatient centers. They also make more in New York and Washington, D.C., because it's more expensive to live in that state and district. If you earned $65,000 as a mobile sonographer in Pierre, South Dakota, you'd need to make $143,896 in New York City to maintain your living standard, according to CNN Money's "Cost of Living" calculator. In Washington, D.C., you'd have to make $92,048 for the same reason, or approximately 42 percent more.
The BLS forecasts a 44 percent increase in employment for diagnostic medical sonographers, including mobile sonographers, from 2010 to 2020, which is much faster than the 14 percent average for all occupations. Advances in technology enable sonographers to work outside of traditional hospital settings, such as outpatient centers, which should increase jobs for mobile sonographers. In this field, you may also find more job opportunities in physicians' offices and medical and diagnostic labs, where more of these procedures are being performed.