How Much Do Ultrasound Technicians Make?

By Indeed Editorial Team

March 8, 2021

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:

  • Experience

  • Certification

  • Location

  • Education and training

  • Type of facility such as a hospital or diagnostic center

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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:

  • Vascular sonography

  • OB/GYN sonography

  • Cardiac sonography

  • Pediatric cardiac sonography

  • Neuro sonography

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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:

  • Hawaii: $94,620

  • Alaska: $88,972

  • California: $77,064

  • Washington, D.C.: $83,265

  • Washington state: $79,404

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

Job outlook

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.

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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.

Education

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 work

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.

Certification exam

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:

  • Sonography

  • Breast sonography

  • Vascular sonography

  • Registered Vascular Specialist

  • Abdomen sonography

  • Fetal echocardiography

  • Pediatric echocardiography

  • Obstetrics and gynecology

  • Advanced Cardiac Sonographer

  • Registered Cardiac Sonographer

  • Registered Congenital Cardiac Sonographer

  • Adult echocardiography

  • Musculoskeletal sonography

  • 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:

Active listening

Technicians must be able to listen to what patients and other healthcare professionals are trying to communicate and apply their knowledge accordingly.

Critical thinking

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.

Continual learning

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.

Confidence

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.

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