Are you interested in a career in diagnostic medical sonography? Maybe you are curious about a more general sonography career for now. There is nothing wrong with not yet knowing the career path you want to take in life. Whichever sonography job or career you find that suits you, an ultrasound technician salary will allow you to enjoy life without having to worry about paying the bills. It will also afford you the opportunity to explore your non-professional interests and engage in your favorite hobbies.
Read on to find out more about the mean ultrasound technician salary, job description and education and certification requirements.
Beyond the benefits that come with an ultrasound technician salary, enjoy a rewarding, fulfilling career playing a crucial, critical role in identifying, monitoring and treating diseases and conditions. Using sound wave technology, ultrasound technicians image organs and other internal structures inside the body of a patient. The technicians help prepare patients for their procedures and record their medical history, maintain the ultrasound equipment and report findings to the medical team. Diagnostic medical sonographers interpret the images to help identify and diagnose diseases.
A day in the life of an ultrasound technician typically includes an eight-hour shift and seeing 10 to 15 patients per day. During this time, you will interact with patients, physicians and other techs and personnel. Expect to spend long periods of time on your feet. Note that schedule changes are not uncommon and emergency situations may require extended hours.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for diagnostic medical sonographers is going to improve by 46% between 2018 and 2028. This continues the trend of a 26% growth in job prospects from 2014 to 2024. For comparison, the projected job growth for the same period in the United States is 14%. The industry is booming and now is an excellent time to get into the field. Between the ultrasound technician salary and the promising job outlook, if you are looking for a stable, rewarding career, look into getting the required education for this job and take non-mandatory, specialist certification classes and tests.
Education and Certification
Before you can earn an ultrasound technician salary, you must first obtain the requisite educational and certification requirements. Only an Associate's Degree is required to get into this field, but a Bachelor's Degree is preferred, especially if you are looking to take your career to the next level with management.
Certifications in a specialty within sonography vary by state. Find out which branch of sonography you want to get into and ask your professors for help to get an internship or externship at the local hospital or clinic of your choice. Ask older classmates or alumni where they completed their externship. If you have a goal practice in mind, wear a blazer and nice shoes, walk in and explain you are a student studying to be an ultrasound technician and why you want an externship at their particular location.
Certification By State
In most states, it is not legally required to have a certification to practice sonography. However, in certain states like New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon and West Virginia, laws mandating licensure has either been proposed or passed. The current leading accreditation organization nationally and globally is the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Accreditation organizations that offer a more limited range of certifications include the American Registry for Radiologic Technologists, Cardiovascular Credentialing International and the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology.
Ultrasound Technician Salary
The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the average salary of an individual with an Associate's Degree is $41,548. The mean ultrasound technician salary in 2015 was $70,880 for professionals working as diagnostic medical sonographers. That is an astounding 171% increase! That is before taking into consideration that there are jobs in the medical field such as sonography and radiology which only require an Associate's degree and significantly drive up the average salary.
The bottom 10% of ultrasound technicians earned $48,720 per year. These individuals most likely got a one-year degree from a community college or trade school. The top 10% of ultrasound technicians earned $97,390 per year. They had higher education and certifications which allowed them to get advanced or specialized positions in the field.
If you are looking for the highest salary in your career field, get a job in Washington, D.C., Washington, California, Massachusetts or Oregon. If you do not want to live in any of these places, take a job somewhere you want to live in an outpatient care center rather than a doctor's office, lab or hospital.
Ultrasound Technician Salary: Breakdown by Specialty
It is important to pick a specialty you will enjoy for a long time, particularly if you will be studying for a specialty certification. Here is a breakdown of the average ultrasound technician salary you can expect by common job title.
- Echocardiograph technician - base salary on average is $65,392 to $80,644 per year, with a median salary of $72,685. This base salary does not include benefits such as retirement, insurance and paid time off. Specialize in pediatric or fetal echocardiography for a higher starting salary.
- Breast sonographer - diagnose conditions such as breast cancer as a breast sonographer. Earn between $54,080 and $89,440 per year, with a mean salary of $64,417.60 before benefits such as long- and short-term disability insurance and health, dental, vision and life insurance.
- Neurosonographer - earn approximately $65,800 per year with a career in neurosonography. The bottom 10% of individuals in this field earned around $44,950 per annum and the top 10% in this field earned around $90,640. Add in benefits like a retirement match or subsidized health insurance and you are easily making six figures per year once you make it to the top 10%.
- Musculoskeletal sonographer - an example of California paying top rates for sonography is Mskus, a diagnostic imaging facility in Vista, California. A Musculoskeletal sonographer working for Mskus can expect to earn between $102,718 and $107,015 per year with an average base compensation of $104,893 per annum.
- Cardiovascular and vascular technologist - expect to earn around $65,498 per year assessing both the heart and vascular systems of overweight or aging patients. Perform non-invasive ultrasounds and assist the physicians with diagnosis or perform invasive procedures such as conducting stress tests or inserting cardiac catheters.
- Obstetric or gynecologic sonographer - salaries for obstetric or gynecologic sonographers are highest for individuals who teach at colleges, universities and professional schools, averaging $74,940 per year. Professionals who work at outpatient care centers earned an average of $72,200 per annum. At specialty hospitals, expect to make around $71,090 per year, $66,900 per year in physician offices and only $66,300 per year in a general or surgical hospital.
- Ophthalmologic sonographer - if you are interested in helping people see and not overly concerned about money, look into getting a specialty in ophthalmologic sonography. The mean salary for this position is $41,260 per annum, with the bottom 10% in this field earning up to $26,520 each year and the top 10% of earners making $70,340 per year.
- Abdominal and genitourinary sonographer - earn around $65,000 per year with this speicialty.
An ultrasound technician salary will afford you a very comfortable lifestyle, but there is so much more to the career than that. If you are still in school, there is a positive career outlook with an estimated 26% increase in available jobs from 2014 to 2024. Much of this growth is expected to occur rapidly over the next few years. The job market is looking to add approximately 23,000 jobs between 2018 and 2028, which is a growth of 46%. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job market in the United States is only expected expand by 14%.
You can work in obstetrics ensuring women safely bring healthy babies into the world or you can play a crucial role in the diagnosis of dangerous medical conditions and diseases. Analyze ultrasound scans to ensure the images are clear enough to be used by diagnosticians. Additionally, you can prepare patients for their x-rays, MRIs or CTs and record a detailed account of their medical history, maintain the ultrasound equipment, image patients' organs and other internal structures and perform invasive procedures.
The opportunities are vast. If you are looking for a higher than average ultrasound technician salary, move to a state such as California, Washington, Oregon or Massachusetts. More specifically, move to a metropolitan area like Washington, D.C., Boston, Massachusetts, Los Angeles, California, Vista, California or San Diego, California. Specialize in musculoskeletal sonography, cardiovascular and vascular sonography, obstetric or gynecologic sonography or breast sonography for the best chance to earn top pay in this field. In addition to optional specialty certifications with requirements that vary by state, obtain a Bachelor's degree so you can end up in management.
Earn more by teaching at top colleges, universities and professional schools around the country than practicing in general or in surgical hospitals. If you do want to practice, look for a specialty hospital or outpatient care center before looking at physicians offices or anywhere else.