How to Become an Ultrasound Technician

Ultrasound Technician
Ultrasound Technician Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year$80,680
Avg. Pay / hour$38.79
Education2-4 Years
Outlook19%

An ultrasound technician uses high frequency sound waves to form an image of the interior of a patient’s body.

By directing sound waves and measuring their shape and echo, an image is formed which is then used to diagnose and treat a medical problem.

Ultrasound is becoming the favored method of imaging, with many doctors preferring an ultrasound to radiology.

For this reason, employment for ultrasound technicians is expected to grow over the coming years.

An ultrasound technician is sometimes referred to as a diagnostic medical sonographer.

If you’re interested in the human body and health, want a career in medicine, and would enjoy working closely with people, then you might like to become an ultrasound technician.

With good job opportunity and an interesting role to take on, it’s a promising career path overall.

Education Requirements to Become an Ultrasound Technician

There are many different pathways to becoming an ultrasound technician.

Many people in this occupation learn on the job, while working in a hospital, a research center, or within the armed forces.

There are less and less of these on the job opportunities becoming available.

Most ultrasound technicians complete a two year associates degree at vocational school, then get an entry level role in a hospital.

Another option would be to complete a four year degree in college in health that had an emphasis on anatomy and physiology.

While you are not required to be licensed to become a ultrasound technician, you may decide to become registered with one of the governing bodies.

This will make you more attractive to employers, and also give you access to the latest industry trends and professional development opportunities.

For further career advice on working as an ultrasound technician, take a look at the SDMS website.

If you are interested in professional registration, you may like to get in contact with the ARDMS.

Ultrasound Technician Job Description

An ultrasound technician uses high frequency sound waves to form an interior image of a patient.

This can be done anywhere on the body, however technicians usually specialize in a particular part of the body, such as the abdomen, or nervous system.

The bounce and echo of the sound waves is recorded, this data is then used to form a picture which can be photographed or recorded as a video.

When you become an ultrasound technician, good communication skills are important.

Patients often have a lot of questions about the procedure.

Being able to help them to feel comfortable is important.

You’ll also need to have a good understanding of medical terminology, as well as human physiology.

You’ll spend a good amount of time discussing tests and subsequent results with doctors, specialists, and other medical staff.

Here are some of the duties of an ultrasound technician:

  • Taking instructions for an ultrasound from a medical professional
  • Meeting with a patient and explaining the process
  • Making sure a patient is comfortable
  • Administering the ultrasound
  • Ensuring recording equipment is functional
  • Processing photographs and video of the ultrasound
  • Taking measurements of certain structures during the ultrasound
  • Delivering results to medical staff

Ultrasound Technician Salary and Career Path

When you become an ultrasound technician, it’s quite likely that you will be employed by a hospital.

Some are also employed in private consulting suites by physicians or other medical staff.

A few work in education and research also.

When you start your career, you will spend some time working with others who are experienced in this role.

Once you learn the ropes you can expect to work on your own and be trusted with more involved cases.

Many ultrasound technicians also undergo additional training later on to work in specialized roles, for instance obstetrics.

Some similar roles to an ultrasound technician include:

The median wage for an ultrasound technician is $60,000 a year.

An entry level role may pay around $40,000 a year.

Specialists can earn more than $80,000 a year.

An ultrasound technician is one of the higher paying roles in the health field.

If you’re interested in medicine and the human body, then you might like to become an ultrasound technician.

Employment opportunities are strong, and looks set to grow in the coming years.

There is also the option of taking on further training later in your career.

If you want to work with people and have a stable career in the health industry, then this is a good choice.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary

$80,680
$59K
$62K
$80K
$95K
$101K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$59,320
Alaska$90,170
Arizona$86,310
Arkansas$66,380
California$109,350
Colorado$88,090
Connecticut$89,030
Delaware$78,240
District of Columbia$99,860
Florida$71,290
Georgia$70,200
Hawaii$99,390
Idaho$79,450
Illinois$81,910
Indiana$70,870
Iowa$73,460
Kansas$77,940
Kentucky$69,990
Louisiana$64,890
Maine$77,570
Maryland$84,680
Massachusetts$91,460
Michigan$67,530
Minnesota$85,370
Mississippi$63,900
Missouri$75,220
Montana$79,450
Nebraska$73,410
Nevada$81,660
New Hampshire$85,170
New Jersey$84,210
New Mexico$76,200
New York$85,940
North Carolina$72,050
North Dakota$69,950
Ohio$72,190
Oklahoma$70,560
Oregon$95,420
Pennsylvania$74,500
Rhode Island$92,780
South Carolina$71,010
South Dakota$63,430
Tennessee$69,730
Texas$74,630
Utah$79,340
Vermont$83,870
Virginia$77,480
Washington$95,990
West Virginia$66,620
Wisconsin$87,970
Wyoming$81,840
Puerto Rico$26,260

The top earning state in the field is California, where the average salary is $109,350.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

California - $109,350
District of Columbia - $99,860
Hawaii - $99,390
Washington - $95,990
Oregon - $95,420
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, OCC Code 29-2032, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does an ultrasound technician do?

Ultrasound technicians, also called sonographers or diagnostic medical sonographers help doctors and other healthcare providers diagnose a variety of medical conditions.

They take images of internal organs by operating equipment that uses high-frequency sound waves.

Ultrasound technicians can specialize in a particular medical field, such as gynecologic, abdominal, breast, vascular or cardiac sonography.

The responsibilities of an ultrasound technician include preparing the exam room and the equipment, operating the ultrasound equipment, writing reports and alerting the medical staff in case they notice a condition that needs immediate care.

Ultrasound technicians may work independently or as part of a team and can find employment in hospitals, doctor’s offices or imaging laboratories.

As an ultrasound technician, you will need dexterity, good eye-hand coordination, compassion, attention to detail but also good communication skills.

How much does an ultrasound technician make?

An ultrasound technician can make anywhere between less than $50,000 and more than $100,000 a year, depending on his or her experience, specialty, education, and employer.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for diagnostic medical sonographers was $72,510 as of May 2018.

How much does it cost to become an ultrasound technician?

An ultrasound technician needs an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in sonography.

Schooling costs vary depending on the level of education you are seeking and the school you choose.

Associate’s degree programs for ultrasound technicians can last between 2 and 4 years and range between $6000 and more than $40,000 in total.

If you want to have better job prospects you should enroll at an institution that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.

Choosing to become certified by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography or a similar credentialing institution can give you better job prospects.

What is the demand for ultrasound technicians?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for ultrasound techs is expected to grow 19 percent from 2018 to 2028.

This growth is explained in part by the fact that the need to diagnose heart problems and other medical conditions is expected to increase as the population ages.

Seeking certification from the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography can give you better job prospects and can help prove your skills to a potential employer.

How long does it take to become an ultrasound technician?

The answer to this question depends on the level of education you are seeking.

Associate’s degree programs in sonography are usually 2 to 4 years long, include courses in anatomy and medical terminology, are divided into specialties, such as gynecological, abdominal or breast sonography and combine classroom study with clinical training.

Optionally, after finishing your schooling, you can seek professional certification by a credentialing institution such as the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography.

Jamie Willis