Ultrasound Technician / Sonographer Careers + Salary Basics

Healthcare is a massive part of the U.S. economy, representing almost 18 percent of the entire GDP. And according to Health Affairs, the leading journal of health policy thought and research, it’s likely to be closer to 20 percent by 2027.

That makes healthcare a good bet for reliable, well-paying professions to build a career out of. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the number of jobs in healthcare to expand at a rate of 18 percent over the next decade, with the sonography profession on pace with a projected job growth rate of 17 percent. And according to their data, some of the most highly paid positions available with the least amount of schooling are to be found in diagnostic medical sonography.

What We Are Called: Ultrasound Technician… Technologist… Sonographer?

Once upon a time, we were mostly called ultrasound techs, then as the technology and the training in how to use it became more advanced, the term ultrasound technologist came into favor. It’s true that ultrasound is the main tool we use in our job, but the job itself is better described as sonography: the creation of images from ultrasound waves and their analysis. So the full title today is more typically resolved as diagnostic medical sonographer. You’ll also hear us referred to as ultrasonographers from time to time, but we’re pretty modest: just plain old “sonographer” is fine.

Work Environment

Sonographers can be found in almost any type of medical setting by virtue of the wide array of applications for ultrasound sonography in medicine. This can include diverse fields such as:

  • Gynecology and Obstetrics
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Gastroenterology
  • Vascular Medicine
  • Cardiology
  • Anesthesiology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Urology

Since each of these fields have their own wide range of settings, that can lead to sonography jobs everywhere from outpatient clinics to hospital emergency departments to laboratories.

How to Become an Ultrasound Technician / Sonographer

Becoming a sonographer starts by obtaining the right education. You’ll need to have a comprehensive understanding of many of the same things even advanced healthcare and medical practitioners need to be familiar with:

  • Human anatomy
  • Disease pathology
  • The physics of high frequency sound waves
  • Physiology and specialty subjects such as:
    • Obstetrics
    • Neurophysiology
    • Vascular and cardiac structures

Since it’s a medical profession, that education should also include plenty of supervised real-world practice through internship placements. You’ll also get a lot of practice right on campus in labs where you’ll explore specific types of imaging, including abdominal, obstetric, gynecological, and vascular imaging. Each anatomical area and application requires its own techniques and equipment settings that have to be mastered before you’re ready to take to the field unsupervised.

Getting The Education You Need

The most common route into the career is a two-year associate’s degree, usually an associate of science or associated in applied science. It’s also possible, although increasingly rare, to become a sonographer by completing only a short-course certificate program.

But the increasing demands for expertise and specialization are also increasing the need for bachelor’s level candidates, who get a full four years of training in both medical imagery and other skills such as communication and science that can improve your qualifications for a wider variety of positions—many of them with higher pay than you could expect with only an associate’s degree.

Bachelor’s Versus Associate’s

Although the technical skills you will learn will be identical between bachelor and associate programs, you will have more time, and a wider range of subjects to study in a 4-year program. This can prepare you for additional certification credentials, which is a sure route to higher pay rates when you enter the field.

On the other hand, an associate’s track will get you into the field at least two years faster than a bachelor’s degree. That’s a real advantage if you want to start earning and accumulating real-world experience sooner.

Training & Certification Requirements

Only four states have formal licensure requirements for sonographers:

  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon

In other states, qualifications are generally left to employers. But nearly all of them have the same basis: earning a certification from the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS).

The organization offers four different credentials covering the various sonography specialty areas:

  • RDMS (Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer)
    • Abdomen
    • Breast
    • Fetal Echocardiography
    • Obstetrics and Gynecology
    • Pediatric Sonography
  • RDCS (Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer)
    • Adult Echocardiography
    • Fetal Echocardiography
    • Pediatric Echocardiography
  • RVT (Registered Vascular Technologist)
  • RMSKS (Registered Musculoskeletal Sonographer)

Certification is by test only, so it’s possible to achieve it with either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, or even a certificate. It’s possible to meet the prerequisites with a non-specialized degree or certificate, but only with significant additional experience.

Ultrasound Technician / Sonographer Related Job Titles

To give you some idea of how sonography stacks up against similar professions, you can compare it to these other medical imaging jobs. Here you can see the average salaries and predicted job growth rates for healthcare professions with similar requirements and duties.

Job Title Average Salary Job Growth

Ultrasound Technician / Sonographer Earning Potential

According to the BLS, the annual median wage in the United States for diagnostic medical sonographers is $72,510 as of May 2018. That number can vary considerably based on care setting, however. BLS breaks out numbers for common industries where sonographers are employed:

  • Outpatient care centers– $86,220
  • Hospitals; state, local, and private– $72,870
  • Physician’s offices– $71,060
  • Medical and diagnostic laboratories– $69,660

Ultrasound Technician / Sonographer Job Outlook

The BLS has reported that the number of jobs and career opportunities for diagnostic medical sonographers is projected to see an increase of around 17% between the years of 2016 and 2026, a much faster rate than average.

Of course, that average includes states that are expanding quickly and those that are flat or even contracting. Drilling down into state-by-state job growth patterns shows some places where growth is even more explosive:

  • California – 25.9%
  • Florida – 31.4%
  • Illinois – 12.3%
  • Kansas – 16.4%
  • Massachusetts – 17.6%
  • Missouri – 18.1%
  • New York – 26.9%
  • Texas – 34.6%
  • Washington – 26.1%

Ultrasound Technician / Sonographer Salary by State

The following lists sonographer salaries in each state around the country, as documented by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Alabama$56,350 Rank: 51st
Alabama’s sonographers come in dead last in the country when it comes to salary level, with a median annual salary that is only 77 percent of the national median. But there’s a bright spot, with big names like the UAB (the University of Alabama at Birmingham) Medicine, Southeast Alabama Medical Center, and Jackson Hospital all hiring… the state ranks 22nd in total employment numbers in the profession.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $56,350
.
Alaska$94,130 Rank: 2nd
Alaska’s sonographers enjoy the second highest median salaries in the nation, paid almost 30 percent over the national median, a fair trade for the rigors of practice in the northernmost state and the fact that it’s near the bottom in terms of the number of total sonographers working here. Jobs are certainly available for those with the right credentials, with employers like Providence Health and Services, Foundation Health, and Alaska Native Medical Center filling the demand.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $94,130
.
Arizona$85,800 Rank: 8th
Sonographers in Arizona can expect a great salary level, with the median salary here ranked 8th in the nation, 18 percent better than average. High-paying employers include big Banner Health, Concentric Healthcare, and hospital’s like the Havasu Regional Medical Center. The state also ranks 13th in terms of employment numbers.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $85,800
.
Arkansas$62,090 Rank: 44th
Arkansas sits at 44th in terms of pay for sonographers with salaries that come in about 15 percent below the national median. Baptist Health, the University of Arkansas Medical Center, and Arkansas Children’s are all employers featuring current job openings in the state.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $62,090
.
California$91,380 Rank: 3rd
There isn’t much doubt that California sits in the sweet spot for sonographers in the United States. As first in the nation in employment numbers, there are more jobs here than any other state, with quality employers like Kaiser Permanente, Children’s Hospital LA, and Cedars-Sinai often hiring. And those jobs are well-compensated, with a median salary 26 percent above the national median, 3rd in the nation overall.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $91,380
.
Colorado$84,660 Rank: 9th
At nearly 17 percent over the national median, Colorado offers great salaries together with a great lifestyle for medical sonographers. Employers such as UC Health, Centura, and Kaiser Permanente provide plenty of jobs, putting Colorado at number 23 in the country for sonography positions.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $84,660
.
Connecticut$79,770 Rank: 12th
Connecticut comes in 12th in the nation for sonography salaries, about 10 percent higher than the national median. Quality employers like Bristol Hospital and Health Care Group and the University of Connecticut Health Center push that number up, and also boost employment numbers to a respectable number 26 in the nation—not bad for a small state!
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $79,770
.
Delaware$72,160 Rank: 27th
Delaware sonography salaries are only about 1 percent lower than the national median. The state ranks number 45 in overall employment numbers. You can find jobs with corporations like Trinity Health, or at hospitals like Bayhealth Medical Center listed regularly.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $72,160
.
District of Columbia – Washington, DC$90,670 Rank: 4th
As a single city being compared to entire states, Washington, D.C. predictably comes in tied at 45th in the country for total employment numbers for sonographers, but blasts up near the top in terms of salaries with a median pay rate that’s 25 percent better than the national average. Kaiser Permanente, TridentUSA, and MedStar Washington Hospital Center are all common employers in the District.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $90,670
.
Florida$65,560 Rank: 38th
Florida ranks 2nd in the nation in overall employment rates for sonographers, but the median salary here is about 10 percent below the national median. There are plenty of companies and hospitals hiring here, however, including USF Health, HCN Healthcare, and TriHealth.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $65,560
.
Georgia$61,580 Rank: 45th
Salaries in Georgia for sonographers are about 15 percent below the national median. The state ranks 10th in employment, however, and you can find jobs at places such as Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Wellstar Health System, and August University among others.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $61,580
.
Hawaii$95,020 Rank: 1st
It’s good to be the king, and Hawaii holds that status with sonographer salaries coming in an impressive 31 percent over the national median. But those high-paying positions at organizations like Kaiser Permanente, Straub Medical Center, and Hawaii Pacific Health are hard to come by, since the state is 47th for employment in the field.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $95,020
.
Idaho$78,620 Rank: 15th
Little Idaho does pretty well by sonographers, with a salary nearly 9 percent over the national median. It ranks 41st in employment, with hiring by both private corporations like Trinity Health and Aureus Medical Group and non-profits like St. Luke’s Health System.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $78,620
.
Illinois$76,590 Rank: 20th
Sonographers in Illinois can expect a salary more than 5 percent higher than the national median. With the 5th highest employment rank in the country, it’s also a state with a lot of those jobs on offer, from organizations like Trinity Health, Sinai Health System, and the University of Illinois at Chicago.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $76,590
.
Indiana$69,200 Rank: 31st
Indiana comes in at 24th in overall employment numbers and offers salaries about 5 percent below the national median. Indiana University Health, Goshen Health, and the Community Health Network are all organizations doing a lot of hiring recently throughout the state.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $69,200
.
Iowa$68,910 Rank: 34th
Iowa sonographers can expect a salary about 5 percent lower than the national median. The state comes in at number 27 for overall employment in the field. The University of Iowa, Central Iowa Healthcare, and hospitals like Mercy Medical Center are some of the big employers for the state.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $68,910
.
Kansas$72,420 Rank: 26th
Somebody has to be exactly in the middle, and predictably, it’s a state located in the middle of the country. Not only is Kansas in the geographic center of the lower 48, it has exactly the national median salary for sonographers, and it’s ranked 32nd for employment. Kansas Medical Center and the University of Kansas Health System are some of the big hiring agencies in the state.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $72,420
.
Kentucky$64,140 Rank: 41st
Salaries for sonographers in Kentucky are about 12 percent below the national median. The state is number 29 when it comes to employment, with jobs coming from organizations like Kentucky One, CHI Saint Joseph, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $64,140
.
Louisiana$59,130 Rank: 50
Louisiana sonographers come in with a salary that is about 19 percent lower than the national median. The state is ranked number 21 in overall employment numbers, with the state itself doing a lot of hiring for sonography positions. Other organizations hiring include Ochsner Health System and hospitals like Thibodaux Regional Medical Center.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $59,130
.
Maine$77,070 Rank: 17th
Sonographers in Maine enjoy a median salary more than 6 percent over the national median. The state is ranked 41st for employment in the field. You can find positions at organizations like the Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, Maine Health, or the Maine Coast Memorial Hospital.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $77,070
.
Maryland$75,620 Rank: 23rd
A median salary almost 5 percent better than the national median makes sonography work in Maryland pretty well-paying. The state is number 15 in employment in the field. You can find organizations like the University of Maryland system, Frederick Memorial Hospital, or the prestigious Johns Hopkins among those hiring throughout the state.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $75,620
.
Massachusetts$84,630 Rank: 10th
Wealthy Massachusetts is a great place to work as a sonographer, with the 12th most jobs in the country and a median salary that comes in nearly 17 percent above the national median. Hiring is happening at Steward Health Care System, Springboard Healthcare, and Massachusetts General Hospital, among other places.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $84,630
.
Michigan$60,930 Rank: 48th
Michigan sonographers make about 16 percent less than the national median, but at number 8 in terms of overall employment, there are always positions on tap. Trinity Health, Grace Hospice, and McLaren Healthcare are some of the organizations often hiring in the state.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $60,930
.
Minnesota$79,540 Rank: 13th
Sonographers in Minnesota pull in a salary about 10 percent better than the national median. The state ranks 19th for total employment, and you can find jobs with organizations like Allina Health, Fairview Health Services, and the Center for Diagnostic Imaging.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $79,540
.
Mississippi$60,890 Rank: 47th
Mississippi sonographers make about 16 percent below the national median. The state ranks number 31 in terms of overall employment numbers in the field. Employers like the University of Mississippi Medical Center and North Mississippi Health Services are among those hiring in the state.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $60,890
.
Missouri$70,680 Rank: 30th
Missouri is 20th in overall employment for sonographers, but salaries come in about 3 percent lower than the national median. You can find jobs in places like Missouri Baptist Medical Center and St. Luke’s Hospital, or with organizations like Mercy Health.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $70,680
.
Montana$76,500 Rank: 21st
Although the state is 47th in terms of total employment numbers for sonographers, salaries in Montana are more than 5 percent better than the national median. Billings Clinic, St. Peter’s Hospital, and SCL Health are some of the organizations hiring sonographers in Montana these days.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $76,500
.
Nebraska$63,070 Rank: 43rd
Nebraska sonographers make about 13 percent less than the national median. The state ranks 36th in terms of total employment, with employers ranging from big organizations like Nebraska Medicine and Bryan Health to little Memorial Community Hospital in Blair.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $63,070
.
Nevada$75,650 Rank: 22nd
Nevada sonographers do pretty well for themselves with a median salary 4 percent better than the national median. The state is 35th for total employment in the field, with organizations like Quality Medical Imaging, Banner Health, and the Department of Veterans Affairs often hiring.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $75,650
.
New Hampshire$78,650 Rank: 14th
Sonographers in New Hampshire make about 8 percent more than the national median salary. The state comes in at 40 for employment numbers. Organizations hiring those sonographers include Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Southern New Hampshire Medical Center, and St. Mary’s Health System.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $78,650
.
New Jersey$76,740 Rank: 18th
With an employment rank of 6th in the country and a median salary nearly 6 percent better than the national average, New Jersey is a great place for a sonography career. Hackensack Meridian Health, Rutgers, and Holy Name Medical Center are some of the organizations currently hiring in the field.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $76,740
.
New Mexico$66,530 Rank: 36th
Sonographers here make about 9 percent less than the national median salary. The state is 36th in terms of total employment in the field, but you can often find positions with the Indian Health Service or major hospitals like the University of New Mexico Hospital open.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $66,530
.
New York$74,830 Rank: 24th
New York’s sonographers pull in about 3 percent more in salary than the national median, but the state is ranked number 3 for total employment for sonographers, so there are plenty of positions to be had. You can find them at places like the Brookdale Hospital Medical Center in the heart of Brooklyn, or with Mount Sinai Health System or Northwell Health almost anywhere in the state.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $74,830
.
North Carolina$66,930 Rank: 35th
Sonographers here make about 8 percent less than the national median salary. The state is number 11 for total employment, however, with organizations like Duke Hospital, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, or Novant Health hiring for many positions.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $66,930
.
North Dakota$71,030 Rank: 29th
Sonographers in North Dakota make about 2 percent less than the national median. The state is 41st for employment, but you can find positions open frequently with Sanford Health or organizations like Trinity Health throughout the state.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $71,030
.
Ohio$64,410 Rank: 40th
Ohio is number 7 in the nation in terms of total employment numbers for sonographers. The median salary comes in at about 11 percent less than the national median. The Cleveland Clinic is a major employer in the field, but you can also find positions with OhioHealth or in places like the Southern Ohio Medical Center.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $64,410
.
Oklahoma$68,920 Rank: 33rd
Oklahoma pays about 5 percent less than the national median for sonographers. The state is 28th in employment, with organizations like Integris and OU Medicine offering the bulk of the employment opportunities.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $68,920
.
Oregon$88,360 Rank: 6th
Oregon is a great place to be a sonographer, with a median salary 22 percent better than the national median and plenty of jobs to go around—the state is number 25 in terms of sonography employment. Oregon Health and Science University is a major employer, and the Department of Veterans Affairs and Providence Health and Services are also often hiring.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $88,360
.
Pennsylvania$65,180 Rank: 39th
Pennsylvania sonographers make about 10 percent below the national median in the field. The state is big in terms of employment, though, ranking 8th in the nation. Brandywine Hospital, Penn Medicine, and Tower Health are some of the companies hiring in the field.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $65,180
.
Rhode Island$85,910 Rank: 7th
Tiny Rhode Island is a big place for sonographers, with salaries coming in almost 19 percent over the national median. The state is 43rd for employment, however, so you may be limited to companies like Lifespan or the Care New England Health System for openings.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $85,910
.
South Carolina$66,250 Rank: 37th
South Carolina offers about 9 percent less than the national median for sonography salaries. The state is number 30 for employment numbers. You can find positions with organizations like McLaren Health Care, Greenville Health System, or the Lexington Medical Center.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $66,250
.
South Dakota$61,100 Rank: 46th
South Dakota has about 16 percent lower salaries than the national median and comes in 39th in total employment. Avera McKennan Hospital, Sanford Health, and Regional Health are some of the big employers in the state for sonography.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $61,100
.
Tennessee$63,230 Rank: 42nd
Salaries are about 13 percent lower than the national median for Tennessee sonographers. The state is 16th in overall employment for the field, however, so you can often find openings with organizations like Wellmont Health System, Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, or the University of Tennessee Medical Center.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $63,230
.
Texas$71,550 Rank: 28th
Although salaries are about 2 percent below the national median, big Texas is ranked 4th for total employment for sonographers, so you have good odds of finding a job here. The Center for Diagnostic Imaging, South Texas Radiology Imaging Center, and UT Southwestern Medical Center are all organizations with frequent openings.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $71,550
.
Utah$76,730 Rank: 19th
Utah sonographer salaries are nearly 6 percent above the national median. The state is 34th in terms of total employment, but companies like Intermountain Healthcare and Quality Medical Imaging often have openings.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $76,730
.
Vermont$78,190 Rank: 16th
Vermont has salaries that are nearly 8 percent better than the national median for sonographers, but the state ranks 49th in terms of employment. Central Vermont Medical Center and North Country Hospital are some of the places with openings, while Aureus Medical Group is another source of jobs.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $78,190
.
Virginia$74,020 Rank: 25th
With a median salary more than 2 percent over the national media, Virginia is a good spot for a sonography career. With the number 14 spot for employment numbers, you can find work at organizations like Sentara Healthcare, Eastern Virginia Medical School, or the UVA Health System.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $74,020
.
Washington$89,210 Rank: 5th
Washington knocks it out of the park with median sonographer salaries 23 percent better than the national median and a strong employment rank of 18. Solid companies like the University of Washington Medical Center, Swedish Medical Center, and Kaiser Permanente offer many openings.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $89,210
.
West Virginia$59,880 Rank: 49th
Coming in 49th with a median salary 18 percent below the national median, West Virginia is still a decent place for sonographers to make a living when you compare what they earn to the state average income. It ranks 36th in terms of employment, but WVU Medicine and CAMC Health often have openings in the field.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $59,880
.
Wisconsin$84,020 Rank: 11th
Wisconsin sonographers make about 16 percent more than the national median for their profession. The state is also ranked 16th in total employment numbers, so it’s relatively easy to find positions with organizations like LifePoint, Hospital Sisters Health System, or Aurora Health Care here.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $84,020
.
Wyoming$69,140 Rank: 32nd
Wyoming sonographers bring in about 5 percent less than the national median for the position. The state is dead last in the nation for employment, however, so positions are few and far between. Specialty Government Services and Aureus Medical Group are some organizations that are on the hiring side, however.
In USD as of May 2019 50k 100k
Ultrasound Technician $69,140
.

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Robert Sanchez
Written by Robert Sanchez
Robert Sanchez is HealthGrad.com's Chief Editorialist. Robert Sanchez has over 10 years experience in the Healthcare field and more recently has become an avid writer advising on career and job topics in this exciting field.

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