How Much Do Ultrasound Technicians Make?
Updated July 31, 2023
Another name for an ultrasound technician is a diagnostic medical sonographer. Using sound wave technology, sonographers capture images of human anatomy. Sound wave imaging offers a safer alternative for pregnant mothers, as well as an additional option for those suffering from heart conditions or other ailments. In this article we discuss what kind of salary you can expect as an ultrasound technician.
How much do ultrasound technicians make on average?
The national average salary for an ultrasound technician is $1,517 per week or $78,884 per year. On the low end, technicians can make about $400 per week or $20,000 per year. Conversely, some of the highest-paid technicians make $3,200 per week or $166,400 per year.
Factors that affect the pay of ultrasound technicians include:
Education and training
Type of facility such as a hospital or diagnostic center
How does experience affect your pay?
Generally the more experience you have as a sonographer, the higher salary you can expect. The amount you are paid as a technician depends on your location, the facility and your certifications. Also, the area you specialize in determines how much you can make.
Here are the highest-paying specialties for an ultrasound technician:
Pediatric cardiac sonography
How does location affect your pay?
Ultrasound techs working in diagnostic centers typically earn the highest wages. How much a sonographer earns is affected by the type of business, the size of the municipality and the standard of living. Here are the top-earning states for ultrasound technicians:
What does an ultrasound technician do?
Diagnostic medical sonographers are responsible for using medical equipment to take images of inside the human body. This is similar to other imaging techniques but uses sound waves instead of radiation. These images are used to diagnose certain ailments or to follow the development of a fetus during pregnancy.
Primary duties of an ultrasonographer include:
Sterilize and prepare exam room and equipment for patients
Answer patient questions about the procedure
Assist radiologists with ultrasound biopsies and procedures
Maintain patient records
Use equipment to obtain images of the appropriate anatomy for healthcare professionals
Evaluate and interpret procedure results
Create reports based on findings
Maintain patient confidentiality
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projected a 14% growth rate for diagnostic medical sonographers between 2018 and 2028. As the population continues to age, techniques for diagnosing heart disease or other ailments become necessary. Vascular sonography, and sonography in general, is a necessary tool for these diagnoses. The growth rate for ultrasound techs is above the average of all occupations, indicating positive job stability.
Requirements to become an ultrasound technician
Sonographers are trained in the proper use of equipment and treatment of patients. They are required to receive an education, complete clinical work and pass a certifying exam.
Entry-level positions for ultrasound technicians typically require at least an associate's degree. Diagnostic medical sonographers usually possess an associate's or bachelor's degree from a certified institution. The certifying body is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. For experienced medical professionals looking to change careers or gain extra skills, there are one-year certificate programs available. Students take courses in physical and biological science, patient care, medical imaging and more.
Clinical hours are a requirement of most sonography programs. A student is typically required to complete 960 hours of training or the equivalent of holding a full-time job for six months. They are an essential part of education that allows students to gain experience and use the skills learned in the classroom. Clinicals come in the form of internships and externships with clinical affiliates.
Clinical affiliates are facilities that have agreed to help students get real-life experience for their area of study. The specific locations are chosen by staff, but students are allowed to suggest a preferred office if it is registered as an affiliate. Students typically complete clinical training in a variety of areas, including vascular, pediatric, musculoskeletal sonography and more.
Ultrasound technicians are not required to be certified but many employers prefer and even require it. Candidates for certification must meet the minimum education and clinical training requirements before taking the exam.
There are three certifying bodies:
American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography
Cardiovascular Credentialing International
American Registry of Radiologic Technologists
Specialties and certifications:
Gaining a specialty or certification increases your skillset and earning potential. Certifications last anywhere from one to 10 years with continuing education and fee requirements. The specific amount of time the certification lasts depends on the certifying body.
Here is a list of specialization areas for ultrasound techs:
Registered Vascular Specialist
Advanced Cardiac Sonographer
Registered Cardiac Sonographer
Registered Congenital Cardiac Sonographer
Registered Phlebology Sonographer
Helpful skills for ultrasound techs
In addition to technical expertise, successful sonographers utilize key skills to get along well with patients and lead with confidence. Here are some essential skills to develop as an ultrasound tech:
Technicians must be able to listen to what patients and other healthcare professionals are trying to communicate and apply their knowledge accordingly.
Sonographers are responsible for identifying and diagnosing what they see on an imaging screen. Critical thinking is necessary for understanding the given information and knowing what steps to take after.
A continual learner is always interested in finding new information as it pertains to the field. This is essential for maintaining certification and using the best practices of the field.
Communication and interpersonal skills
A technician with great communication and interpersonal skills gets along well with others and is able to easily exchange information with patients and other medical professionals.
Confident sonographers understand their job duties and the procedures necessary to perform their tasks. This comes with a strong grasp of educational concepts and experience.
Patience and empathy
These skills are necessary for any healthcare professional. With patience and empathy, an ultrasound technician is able to listen to a patient's grievances and use skills to arrive at a proper diagnosis.
Frequently asked questions
Can ultrasound technicians work remotely?
With advancements in technology, there are some opportunities for ultrasound technicians to work remotely or in telemedicine settings. Remote ultrasound involves the use of specialized equipment that the technician operates at one location while transmitting the images to a health care provider at another location for interpretation. Remote ultrasound can be particularly useful in providing diagnostic services to underserved areas where there's less access to specialized health care.
How can I negotiate a higher salary as an ultrasound technician?
To negotiate a higher salary as an ultrasound technician, gather data on industry standards and the value you bring to the organization. Prepare a compelling case highlighting your accomplishments, skills and contributions and schedule a meeting with your employer to discuss your request for a raise. Focus on specific elements of your patient care that contribute to the department's success.
What is the typical career progression for ultrasound technicians, and how does that affect pay increases?
The typical career progression for ultrasound technicians involves gaining experience in different specialties, pursuing advanced certifications or degrees and taking on leadership or supervisory roles. Advancement to higher positions, such as lead technologist or department manager, can lead to pay increases.
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