Friday, January 14, 2011

Ultrasonographer / Ultrasound Radiologist Salary And Jobs

The entire economy is slowly recovering from the slump of 2008, but unemployment remains high. While medicine in general and radiology in particular is relatively insulated from macroeconomic trends, radiology residents just graduating and entering the private market may face an adverse situation as radiologists are less likely to invest in a new practice in a down economy. However, the impact of the economic situation varies by subspecialty and region as well. Ultrasonography differs from fields like IR or mammography in that the quality of the sonographer has a large impact in the nature of the practice.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Earnings of physicians and surgeons are among the highest of any occupation. According to the Medical Group Management Association's Physician Compensation and Production Survey, median total compensation for physicians varied by their type of practice. In 2008, physicians practicing primary care had total median annual compensation of $186,044, and physicians practicing in medical specialties earned total median annual compensation of $339,738. 
Self-employed physicians—those who own or are part owners of their medical practice—generally have higher median incomes than salaried physicians. Earnings vary according to number of years in practice, geographic region, hours worked, skill, personality, and professional reputation. Self-employed physicians and surgeons must provide for their own health insurance and retirement.

That's right - the median salary for physicians as a whole is $186,044. Wow - that's a large number for any profession. It gets even better: for specialists like radiologists, the median salary is a whopping $339,738! Of course, after 14 years of college, medical school, internship, residency, and fellowship, such levels of compensation are somewhat rational. Smaller states counterintuitively provide higher levels of compensation. While it is hard to find breakdown statistics by fellowship for ultrasound in particular, it is generally known that interventional radiology earns slightly more than diagnostic radiology. Per the Radiologic Society of North America (RSNA), using data from 2009:

Of the 30 specialties surveyed, interventional radiologists scored third highest and diagnostic radiologists earned the fifth highest salary for 2009. 
With a median salary of $454,205, diagnostic radiologists' compensation increased by 3.7 percent in 2009, while interventional radiologists reported a median salary of $478,000, which was unchanged from the year before.
Again, a staggering number: diagnostic radiologic salaries were $454,205 for 2009! Even if ultrasound radiologist salary levels were 10% below the average, a salary of $409,000 would still be in the top 10 of physician specialties and in the top 1% earners nationally. Per the BLS, the future looks bright:
Employment is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations. Job opportunities should be very good, particularly in rural and low-income areas.
Employment change. Employment of physicians and surgeons is projected to grow 22 percent from 2008 to 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations. Job growth will occur because of continued expansion of healthcare-related industries. The growing and aging population will drive overall growth in the demand for physician services, as consumers continue to demand high levels of care using the latest technologies, diagnostic tests, and therapies. Many medical schools are increasing their enrollments based on perceived new demand for physicians. 
Despite growing demand for physicians and surgeons, some factors will temper growth. For example, new technologies allow physicians to be more productive. This means physicians can diagnose and treat more patients in the same amount of time. The rising cost of healthcare can dramatically affect demand for physicians’ services. Physician assistants and nurse practitioners, who can perform many of the routine duties of physicians at a fraction of the cost, may be increasingly used. Furthermore, demand for physicians' services is highly sensitive to changes in healthcare reimbursement policies. If changes to health coverage result in higher out-of-pocket costs for consumers, they may demand fewer physician services. 
Job prospects. Opportunities for individuals interested in becoming physicians and surgeons are expected to be very good. In addition to job openings from employment growth, openings will result from the need to replace the relatively high number of physicians and surgeons expected to retire over the 2008-18 decade. 
Job prospects should be particularly good for physicians willing to practice in rural and low-income areas because these medically underserved areas typically have difficulty attracting these workers. Job prospects will also be especially good for physicians in specialties that afflict the rapidly growing elderly population. Examples of such specialties are cardiology and radiology because the risks for heart disease and cancer increase as people age.

If you are interested in radiology and ultrasound in particular, the future holds much promise for continued growth in ultrasound radiologist salary levels despite stagnation in the job market overall. Even if you are looking for training as an ultrasound technician at an ultrasound technician school, the salary trend will benefit you through the "trickle-down" effect. Here's to 2011!