Ultrasound technicians, also known as diagnostic medical sonographers, are medical professionals who perform a diagnostic medical procedure called an ultrasound or sonogram. Ultrasounds are performed using a highly advanced piece of equipment that directs high frequency sound waves into a patients body. These sound waves bounce off of internal structures and are registered by the machine. The returned sound waves are then converted into an image. The images are used to diagnose any medical conditions that may be present.
National Average Ultrasound Technician Salary
Hourly Wage Annual Wage
Upper: $45.12 $93,850
Median: $32.47 $67,530
Lower: $22.56 $46,930
States With Highest Salary
State Avg. Hourly Wage Avg. Annual Wage
- California $43.20 $89,870
- Oregon $41.33 $85,970
- District of Columbia $40.93 $85,140
- Alaska $39.78 $82,740
- Washington $39.69 $82,550
*All statistical data is from the U.S. Department of Labor and is updated quarterly
Ultrasound technicians perform a critical function in today’s health care industry. Ultrasounds are used on millions of patients each year in order to diagnose a variety of illnesses. Often times a sonogram will spot the beginning stages of a disease and allow for early intervention, greatly extending the patients chances of a full recovery. Ultrasounds are also used to check the health of babies while inside the mothers womb.
Some of the main responsibilities of ultrasound techs are:
- Taking medical history of patients
- Answering any questions regarding the procedure
- Performing ultrasounds on patients
- Maintaining ultrasound equipment
- Examining the quality of images
- Distinguishing healthy and unhealthy internal structures
- Updating a patients records
The majority of ultrasound technicians work in hospitals although they can also be found to a lesser extent in medical centers, doctors offices, and diagnostic labs.
As with many other health care careers, there is a need for constant staffing of ultrasound technicians. In hospitals they may need to perform a sonogram in the middle of the night if there is an emergency, therefore work schedules can potentially include weekends and overnight shifts.
How To Become An Ultrasound Technician:
Ultrasound Technician Schools:
In order to work as an ultrasound technician, it is necessary to be trained either through a certification or degree program. Many schools offer 2 year associates and 4 year bachelors degree programs in diagnostic sonography. Ultrasound techs can choose to focus on a specialty such as mammo-sonography or neuro-sonography, though most programs will have several options.
Certification programs will take about 12 months to complete and are usually offered through hospitals as well as colleges. A certification program is usually the preferred path for those who are already medical professionals and are looking to change careers or expand there abilities. For some who have certain medical degrees, on the job training is given instead of a formal training program. This option will depend on your location and employer.
Ultrasound Technician Certification and Licensing:
Certification is often required by an employer and depending on which state you work in, may be required along with licensing. Certification is often gained after completing an accredited program and passing a test. Tests will often focus on a specific specialty such as gynecologic or abdominal sonography.
For states that require licensing, certification is often a prerequisite. Due to the constant evolution of technical careers, continuing education is necessary in order to maintain certification.
Who Should Become An Ultrasound Technician:
In order to excel at this career you should definitely not only be technically oriented, but also have good interpersonal skills. You will need to find a balance between working with machines and people. Being sensitive to the emotions that a patient is going through is necessary to creating a healthy atmosphere. Explaining a procedure to a patient can often times dispel any stress related to the examination. Often a patient will need to be in a specific position to take certain images, effective communication of what is needed is essential.
The other aspect of the job you should be comfortable with is operating and maintaining advanced equipment. Familiarity with imaging machines is essential for taking accurate usable images. Keeping a constant focus on the images created during an exam is important as there will be a need for constant minute adjustments. This can be very detailed and tedious.
How Much Does A Ultrasound Technician Make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual ultrasound technician salary is $68,390. The lowest 10 percent of reported incomes was averaged at $46,930 while the top 10 percent of earners took home an estimated $93,850. The state with the highest average salary is California with an annual mean salary of $89,870.
Factors That Can Influence Salary:
Just like other careers there are many things that influence an ultrasound technician salary. The most important of these factors will usually be location and who your employer is. Your level of experience, education, and whether or not you are certified will all have an impact on your final salary. Having multiple certifications will not only improve your potential salary, but also give you a better chance of finding employment.
As with other medical careers, if there is a desire to switch jobs within the medical field, educational requirements are often minimized due to the fact that many of the prerequisites have already been taken. Some ultrasound technicians have their degrees in nursing or radiological technology. With said degrees, there will be many more potential positions that you could be hired for.
The job growth rate for ultrasound technicians is expected to be around 26% between 2014 and 2020. As with other healthcare careers, it is well above the average for all other careers, which is estimated to be around 7%. Due to the aging population, there will be a continually growing need for medical intervention. With this comes an increased need for diagnostic procedures, including ultrasounds. This means that there will be numerous jobs available for those who complete a training program.
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