How to Become an

Ultrasound Technician

The complete career guide to be an Ultrasound Technician: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $70,880
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 26.4%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Dependable Daily Workload
    Career Attribute

Ultrasound technicians operate ultrasound equipment in order to take images and video of a person’s internal systems. Some work for obstetricians, capturing images of unborn children. Others work for hospitals and specialists and aid in the diagnosis of certain organ, tissue, or vascular issues.


What is an Ultrasound Technician?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in ultrasound technician roles:

  • Operate ultrasound imaging equipment to be used in doctor review and diagnosis
  • Prep patients and equipment for ultrasound procedures
  • Review captured imagery to ensure all necessary images were captured and to identify possible abnormalities
  • Assist physicians in the interpretation of captured ultrasound imagery

A Day in the Life

Ultrasound technicians, also known as sonographers, utilize ultrasound technology to capture images of unborn children, organs, tissues, and veins. They work in doctor’s offices and hospitals and assist with patient diagnosis by providing physicians with images of a patient’s internal systems. Ultrasound technicians must ensure that the images they capture are usable and comprehensive in order for proper diagnosis to occur, and they also assist physicians in interpreting the images taken.

Some ultrasound technicians work in OBGYN offices and capture images of expectant mothers and their fetuses. While this process can be very exciting for the expecting parents—they’re getting the first glimpse of their babies and potentially finding out their genders—the ultrasound technician is hard at work looking for potential signs of trouble. The ultrasound process is important in ensuring healthy fetus development, so the ultrasound technician is looking for any signs of potential issues.

Outside of the OBGYN’s office, most ultrasound technicians work for hospitals and specialists, and use ultrasound technology to aid in diagnosis of organ, tissue, and vascular problems. They capture images of problem areas and look for signs of trauma or disease, and they work with the attending physician to review and interpret ultrasound images. Additionally, ultrasound technicians may assist doctors with the administration of medication and treatments by running an ultrasound while treatment is performed.

Typical Work Schedule

Ultrasound technicians who work for specialists and obstetricians in their offices typically work normal business hours and have major holidays and weekends off. Those that work in hospitals may need to work evening, overnight, or weekend shifts to ensure a technician is always available for emergencies.

Projected Job Growth

Ultrasounds are being more commonly employed as a replacement for invasive diagnostic procedures, creating an increased demand for individuals in ultrasound technician roles.

Ultrasound Technician Specializations

Ultrasound technician specializations are focused on the types of ultrasounds the technician performs. For example, OBGYN technicians specialize in capturing images of pelvic organs and unborn children. Abdominal technicians capture images of major organs in the abdominal region like the stomach, kidneys, liver, and pancreas. Vascular and musculoskeletal technicians take images of veins, muscles, tissues, and ligaments to help diagnose issues or administer treatments to specific areas.

Typical Employers

The highest percentage of ultrasound technicians work for hospitals—both public and private—but many also work for obstetricians and other specialized doctors.


How To Become an Ultrasound Technician

If you have a lot of experience in the field of healthcare before enrolling in an educational program, you may be able to become an ultrasound technician by pursuing a certificate in sonography. Certificate programs in sonography provide focused learning on topics related to the field of ultrasound technology and require fewer credit hours that degree programs. If you do not have prior healthcare experience, the better option for becoming an ultrasound technician may be to pursue an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in sonography.

Regardless of which certificate or degree program you choose to pursue, it’s important to find a program that’s accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. Few employers will hire ultrasound technicians with certificates or degrees from institutions that are not accredited, so skipping the step of verifying school accreditation could impact your ability to find work after graduation.

Either during or after college, ultrasound technicians are required to engage in many hours of clinical training to learn how to perform their work in the clinical environment. After earning a certificate or degree and engaging in clinical training, many aspiring ultrasound technicians also chose to take an exam that allows them to become Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographers. Some states may also require ultrasound technicians to become licensed to perform ultrasounds in the state.


Ultrasound Technician Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range

$57,100

Average

$70,880

High Range

$97,390

National Hourly Wage

Low Range

$27/hr

Average

$34/hr

High Range

$47/hr

How do Ultrasound Technician salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Ultrasound Technician's can make an average annual salary of $70,880, or $34 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $57,100 or $27 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #192 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally


Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming an Ultrasound Technician. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.


Highest Education Among Ultrasound Technicians

  • 1.8%   Doctorate
  • 1.9%   Masters
  • 22%   Bachelors
  • 44.3%   Associates
  • 21.8%   College
  • 7.4%   High School
  • 0.7%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs

60,700

2024 Est. Jobs

76,700

Job Growth Rate

26.4%

Est. New Jobs

16,000

How does Ultrasound Technician job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 16,000 jobs for a total of 76,700 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 26.4% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #24 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally


What Companies Employ The Most Ultrasound Technicians

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
General medical and surgical hospitals; private 31,100 5,500 6%
Offices of physicians 14,900 5,200 5%
Medical and diagnostic laboratories 6,100 2,800 3%

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