How To Become an Ultrasound Technician
The Definitive Career Guide


Avg. Salary
$75,780

Education Duration
2-4 Years

Job Outlook
17%

Have you always had a knack for the medical field, but haven’t been too keen on working as a nurse or medical assistant?

Do you enjoy helping others and working with a variety of different people?

As an Ultrasound Technician, you will be tasked with providing answers to medical questions and assisting with diagnosing medical issues.

With an Associate’s degree, an Ultrasound Technician can have a great career in a hospital, doctor’s office, or clinic.


What is an Ultrasound Technician?

As an Ultrasound Technician, it’s possible that you can work with many different people, or follow a niche career, like working with pregnant women.

There are Ultrasound Technicians who work with cardiologists, as well as in vascular care, so the type of Ultrasound Technician you choose to be is up to you.

This career is important, as Ultrasound Technicians help prepare patients for procedures and operations, as well as assist with diagnosing and examining issues within the body.

Using ultrasound technology, an Ultrasound technician takes an instrument called a transducer and places it on patients’ bodies to create images of the inside of their body.

Duties

No day is the same for an Ultrasound Technician, as there are many things that they must do throughout the day.

On average, you can find an Ultrasound Technician:

  • Perform ultrasounds with a transducer
  • Maintain ultrasound equipment
  • Explain the procedure to the patient
  • Evaluate images from the ultrasound
  • Present images and findings to the doctor or medical team
  • Maintain patient records

Salary

On average, people in the United States make around $78,700 as an Ultrasound Technician.

This is after a couple of years of experience, as well as a degree.

Those who are just beginning their career as an Ultrasound Technician can expect to make closer to $55,000 a year to start.

After earning certification as an Ultrasound Technician, as well as several more years of experience and even a higher degree, it’s possible to make up to $100,000 a year as an Ultrasound Technician.

There are even some places in the United States where an Ultrasound Technician can make over $100,000 a year.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

Annually National Average Salary: $75,780

$52K
$61K
$75K
$89K
$102K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

Average Annual Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$56,480
Alaska$97,270
Arizona$86,710
Arkansas$66,030
California$100,960
Colorado$83,920
Connecticut$81,890
Delaware$72,540
District of Columbia$95,290
Florida$66,310
Georgia$60,750
Hawaii$102,140
Idaho$76,920
Illinois$75,420
Indiana$71,350
Iowa$72,110
Kansas$76,670
Kentucky$67,280
Louisiana$63,500
Maine$78,170
Maryland$78,650
Massachusetts$85,590
Michigan$62,990
Minnesota$81,130
Mississippi$61,480
Missouri$72,790
Montana$77,520
Nebraska$65,080
Nevada$83,050
New Hampshire$80,880
New Jersey$78,820
New Mexico$66,460
New York$77,060
North Carolina$69,740
North Dakota$70,760
Ohio$67,150
Oklahoma$70,770
Oregon$89,600
Pennsylvania$66,270
Rhode Island$89,310
South Carolina$68,800
South Dakota$63,440
Tennessee$66,280
Texas$72,160
Utah$73,800
Vermont$79,720
Virginia$76,940
Washington$90,130
West Virginia$61,990
Wisconsin$85,670
Wyoming$71,290
Puerto Rico$25,040

Annual Average Salary: Top 5 States

The top earning state in the field is Hawaii, where the average salary is $102,140.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Hawaii - $102,140
California - $100,960
Alaska - $97,270
District of Columbia - $95,290
Washington - $90,130
* Salary information based on May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, OCC Code 29-2032, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

How to Become an Ultrasound Technician

Step 1 Get an Education

It’s not legally required to possess a degree in order to work as an Ultrasound Technician, but many employers do prefer to hire ones that do.

The most common type of degree is an Associate’s degree in diagnostic medical sonography, which takes about two years to finish.

In this type of program, you will learn all kinds of information about ultrasound and sonography procedures, as well as how to care for patients.

A typical Associates degree program will have courses that include:

  • Sonography and Ethics
  • Abdominal Sonography
  • Sectional Anatomy
  • Obstetrics and Gynecological Sonography
  • Culture and Diversity

Keep in mind that any program you seek should be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.

Some Ultrasound Technicians choose to earn a Bachelor’s degree, which takes about four years to finish.

In a Bachelor’s degree program, you’ll take the required sonography courses but also have courses like English and math.

Step 2 Gain Experience

While getting a formal education is not mandatory, it’s crucial that you gain hands-on experience as an Ultrasound Technician, especially if you would like to become certified at some point.

To gain experience, you’ll need to find a job.

Most hospitals and doctor’s offices need new Ultrasound Technicians, but it’s possible to work in clinics as well as at private ultrasound companies.

Having at least two years of experience is preferred before you can try to become certified.

Enrolling in an internship while going through an Associate’s degree program is a great way to learn the tricks of the trade and gain experience while going to school.

You could also shadow another Ultrasound Technician or even volunteer at your local hospital.

Step 3 Become Certified

Once you have a couple of years of experience, something may push you to become a Certified Ultrasound Technician.

There are many areas that an Ultrasound Technician can gain certification from the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography:

  • Abdomen
  • Breast
  • Echocardiography
  • OB/GYN
  • Vascular

In order to gain these certifications, you must be a part of the ARDMS and take an exam.

The American Registry for Radiologic Technologists offers 15 different certifications including:

  • Mammography
  • Registered Radiologist Assistant
  • Nuclear Medicine Technology
  • Radiography

The Cardiovascular Credentialing International Association offers:

  • Certified Cardiac Sonographer
  • Advanced Cardiac Sonographer
  • Registered Cardiac Sonographer

In order to earn these certifications, you must be enrolled in the association that they are from, and also take an exam to show your competence in the field of sonography.

Step 4 Further Your Career

Becoming certified and gaining education over the years can mean that you want to step out into another career, or gain promotion in your current field.

Having many credentials can help with gaining raises and promotions, but there are some other things that you can do to help further your career.

The first is to pick a specialty, that way you know which direction you want to go into.

Network with others in the community and try and see what other possibilities are out there.

Beyond an Ultrasound Technician, it’s possible to gain employment as:

  • MRI Technologist
  • CT Technologist
  • Senior Ultrasound Technician
  • Operational Supervisor

Earning a Masters degree can also help with promotions, this two-year program could lead to a career in:

  • Advanced Sonographer
  • Lead Pediatric Cardiac Sonographer
  • Sonographer Educator

Education

For anyone interested in becoming an Ultrasound Technician, it is smart to think about enrolling in a program.

Most employers prefer that Ultrasound Technicians have at least an Associate’s degree in diagnostic medical sonography.

In order to enroll in an Associates degree program, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent, as well as a 2.5 or higher GPA.

On average, an Associate’s degree takes around two years to finish, but there are some accelerated ones that can take about 12-18 months.

Be wary of ones that aren’t very long, as they could leave out a lot of valuable information and clinical studies time.

Most classes in an Associates degree program will be geared toward science and math, as well as courses like:

  • Sonography Ethics and Conduct
  • Pathophysiology
  • Medical Terminology
  • Cross-Sectional Sonography
  • Vascular Sonography

No matter the type of program that you decide to enroll in, make sure that there are clinical classes so that you can earn patient care experience.

Beyond an Associate’s degree, many Ultrasound Technicians earn a Bachelor’s degree.

This is a four-year commitment for full-time students, and can lead to promotions or raises as an Ultrasound Technician.

You will likely have the typical English and math classes in this type of program, but you will also take more advanced and detailed sonography classes.

Another way to earn an education for this career is through hands-on experience.

This can be done by enrolling in an internship, shadowing another Ultrasound Technician, and having clinical studies in school.

Once you have several years of experience working as an Ultrasound Technician, you may want to think about entering into a certain niche, whether that be:

  • Vascular Technology
  • Mammography
  • OB/GYN Ultrasounds

After deciding on a specialty, looking into certification is the next step toward a great career as an Ultrasound Technician.

Video About The Career


Certification

It can take a couple of years of experience to be able to earn a certification as an Ultrasound Technician, but if you are serious about your role, you should consider one.

There are several organizations that offer Ultrasound Technician certification, so make sure you find an accredited one.

Some of the most popular are:

  • American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography
  • American Registry for Radiologic Technologists
  • Cardiovascular Credentialing International Association

Each one requires that you become a member, but this opens up a huge network of people to help you in your career.

After becoming a member of the respective association, you can begin looking into the prerequisites for credentials.

There are many different certifications to choose from through each association.

Through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography, there are specializations in different areas of the body including:

  • Abdomen
  • Mammography
  • Gynecology

Most of the exams are year-round for this organization, and all of them are multiple-choice tests.

On average, the exams take two hours to complete- with about 150 questions each.

All of these certifications require recertification after 5 years.

Check out the website for more information.

The American Registry for Radiologic Technologists has another variety of credentials, including:

  • Sonography
  • Mammography
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Cardiac Interventional Sonography

Through this association, you will only take one exam, regardless of the area that you want to specialize in.

The only difference is the education that you receive for that certification.

The exam is computer-based and can be taken at home or in one of the many facilities across the United States.

To be accepted into this organization, you must have good moral and ethical standing.

The other association, the Cardiovascular Credentialing International Association has its own certifications:

  • Registered Congenital Cardiac Sonographer
  • Advanced Cardiac Sonographer
  • Registered Phlebotomy Sonographer

These credentials can be acquired by taking an exam and paying the $100 testing fee.

Each certification will have its own categories based on the specialization.

Some of the topics that you can expect on most of the exams are:

  • Echocardiography
  • Pre-Procedural Activities
  • Post-Procedural Activities
  • Stress Tests

The Cardiovascular Credentialing International Association website has much more information about these certifications.

Certification Example:

ultrasound tech certificate

Average Training Program Duration: 2-4 Years

In order to gain most certifications as an Ultrasound Technician, you must have at least two years of experience in the field.

This is so that employers, as well as patients, know that you are competent in what you are doing.

An Associate’s degree can take around two years to finish and can give you the education needed to have a successful career as an Ultrasound Technician.

There are other programs that can help with certification, such as practice tests, but the best program for this career is a hands-on experience.


Job Outlook

Overall, this career will continue to grow over the next ten years.

It looks as if the career of an Ultrasound Technician, as well as other types of medical technicians, will grow around 17 percent over the next decade.

This is much faster than other occupations in the medical field.

The reason for this rise is that technological advancements have made it easier for medical sonographers and Ultrasound Technicians to see various issues within the body.

Not only do Ultrasound Technicians check fetuses, but they can also work with cardiology and vascular areas.

Due to the aging baby boomer generation, there will likely be a need for more medical treatments, as well as medical conditions like blood clots and heart attacks increasing with this aging generation.

Ultrasound Technicians who are certified will likely find the best job opportunities.

Employment Growth Projection: 17%

74,300
2018
86,800
2028

That's a higher than average projected growth of 12,500


Should You Become an Ultrasound Technician?

Overall Satisfaction: High

Overall Satisfaction

It seems that there are many things in this career that Ultrasound Technicians love, like that it is the least stressful job of the medical professional, and great job benefits.

Helping people and taking care of patients is also a joy in this career.

However, there are fewer job advancement opportunities than other career hospitals or doctor’s offices.

Those who are interested in this career will find more satisfaction when earning certification or stepping into a specialization.

This is due to potential promotions and salary raises.

Average Salary: High

Average Salary

Most Ultrasound Technicians working in the United States will make about $78,000 a year after having a couple of years of experience in the field.

When just starting out in this career, it’s typical that the salary for an Ultrasound Technician is closer to $55,000 a year.

However, once you have several years of experience, certifications, and even specializations, this career can garner over $100,000 a year in salary in some places.

Those who work in large populations or in areas with higher socioeconomic statuses will likely make more than people working in small towns or rural areas.

Job Growth Outlook: High

Job Growth Outlook

Those who are interested in working as Ultrasound Technicians shouldn’t have to worry about finding a job any time soon.

This is because this career is due to rise around 17 percent over the next decade.

Technological advancements have made it easier to use ultrasounds to diagnose a variety of illnesses.

Also, many more preparations are made through ultrasounds for pregnant women, as well as people with cardiac issues, and vascular problems.

If you are looking to start a career as an Ultrasound Technician, now is the time.

Keep in mind that job prospects go to those with a certification most often.

Education Duration: 2-4 Years

Education Duration

Ultrasound Technicians should have at least an Associate’s degree, but many employers are now requiring a Bachelor’s degree to work as an Ultrasound Technician.

An Associate’s degree can take about two years to finish for full-time students.

A Bachelor’s degree takes a bit longer, at around four years for full-time students.

Earning a certification can take a few weeks as well.

Depending on the requirements of your employer, it can take anywhere from 2 to four years or more to become an Ultrasound Technician.

Personal Skills Needed

Personal Skills Needed

In order to be a great Ultrasound Technician, there are certain personality traits that you must possess.

Along with keeping patient information confidential, it’s important to have a professional manner.

This can be a stressful career, however, with these traits you can become a success:

  • Ability to care for others
  • Great bedside manner
  • Fast learner
  • Listening skills
  • Mental strength
  • Stamina
  • Ability to lift over 50 pounds
  • Detail-oriented
  • Compassion and interpersonal skills
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Knowledge of the medical field
  • Ability to work with others and alone
  • Multi-tasking skills


Frequently Asked Questions

Q.

What is the average salary of an Ultrasound Technician?

Most Ultrasound Technicians across the United States make about $78,000 a year.

Having experience and further education can lead to an even bigger salary, up to $100,000 in some areas.

Just starting out, though, you shouldn’t expect such a high rate.

Most new Ultrasound Technicians make closer to $55,000 a year.

After certifications and specializations, the salary and promotions can increase for Ultrasound Technicians, especially in larger populations.

Q.

How long does it take to become an Ultrasound Technician?

Employers prefer an Associate’s degree in this career. however, it’s not completely necessary.

Ultrasound Technicians who enroll in an Associates degree program should expect it to take about two years to finish.

There are other degrees online and at community colleges that can take anywhere from one year to 18 months to complete.

Earning a Bachelor’s degree can take around four years.

Depending on the program you enter and the type of degree you’d like to receive, it can take anywhere from 1 year to 4 years to become an Ultrasound Technician.

Q.

What does an Ultrasound Technician do?

There are many different types of Ultrasound Technicians, so it’s possible that you may do something completely unique to what other Ultrasound Technicians do.

Some of the things that you can expect to do as an Ultrasound Technician include:

Making sure that patients are ready for their appointment.

Preparing the imaging equipment.

Providing diagnostic images of the specific body part.

Analyzing those images and reporting findings to the doctor.

Those who work in different areas may take images of the abdomen, or work in mammography providing images of breast tissue.

Q.

What is the demand for Ultrasound Technicians?

There is a high demand for Ultrasound Technicians all over the United States.

The advancements in technology have made it easier to complete images of inside the body, which means there are more opportunities for careers in this field.

Another factor in the rise of this field is due to the aging baby boomer population.

As they grow older, they will need more medical care, including ultrasounds.

This career will look to grow around 19 percent over the next decade, that’s a lot more than many other careers in the medical field.

Q.

How much does it cost to become an Ultrasound Technician?

Most people who are interested in working as an Ultrasound Technician will earn an Associate’s degree.

On average, an Associate’s degree from a community college can cost around $15,000 to $20,000.

Those who go to a university may pay a little more, depending on where they enroll.

Bachelor’s degrees can cost upwards of $35,000.

Also, certifications can cost anywhere from $100 to $300 per certification.

All in all, it can cost anywhere from $16,000 to over $40,000 to become an Ultrasound Technician.


USA Ultrasound Technician Info by State

USA MapWashingtonOregonCaliforniaIdahoNevadaUtahArizonaMontanaWyomingColoradoNew Mexiconorth-dakota/South DakotaNebraskakansas/OklahomaTexasMinnesotaIowaMissouriArkansasLouisianaWisconsinIllinoisKentuckyTennesseeMississippiAlabamaGeorgiaFloridaSouth CarolinaNorth CarolinaVirginiaMichiganMichiganIndianaOhioWest VirginiaPennsylvaniaNew YorkMarylandMarylandDelawareNew JerseyConnecticutRhode IslandMassachusettsVermontNew HampshireMaineAlaskaHawaiiNew JerseyVermontNew HampshireMassachusetts

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