So you want to work in healthcare but you aren't sure which position would be better suited to you: becoming a registered nurse or a diagnostic sonographer. Both have similar salaries and similar lengths of educational time, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). But the actual work is quite different.
Do You Like Nursing?
Registered nurses are an integral part of the medical field; in fact, according to the BLS, registered nurses make up the largest sector of healthcare. Their tasks are multi-fold. In addition to clerical duties, which include taking, updating and filing patient records, they assist in running tests, administering medicine, educated patients about healthcare and providing emotional support to patients and their families. Nurses reach their positions through one of three educational pathways: an associate or bachelor degree, or a diploma from a teaching hospital.
Average Nursing Pay
In May 2008, the occupational statistics survey conducted by the BLS showed registered nurses earning $62,000 annually, on average. Most nurses are employed by hospitals, but while the BLS predicts that hospitals will remain the largest employer, job openings are expected to increase at a greater rate in physicians' offices through 2018.
Do You Prefer Sonography?
Diagnostic medical sonographers also play an important role in the healthcare industry. By employing sonography -- a technology that uses sounds waves to produce an image of a person's insides -- sonographers search for visual cues that separate healthy from unhealthy, according to the BLS. From checking up on a pregnancy to screening the nervous system for possible cancer, sonographers perform vital medical work. Most enter the field with an associate or bachelor degree, though certificate programs are also acceptable.
Average Sonographer Pay
The same 2008 study showed sonographers averaged a few dollars short of $62,000 a year, according to the BLS. Approximately 59 percent of sonographers employed that year (50,300) worked in hospitals and that isn't expected to change. Again, though, job growth should be more rapid in private doctors' offices through 2018.
2016 Salary Information for Registered Nurses
Registered nurses earned a median annual salary of $68,450 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, registered nurses earned a 25th percentile salary of $56,190, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $83,770, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 2,955,200 people were employed in the U.S. as registered nurses.