Ultrasound technicians, AKA ultrasound techs, are allied healthcare professionals trained to operate specialized imaging equipment that uses sound waves to create images of various parts of the body.
Though ultrasound technology is most commonly associated with pregnancy and assessing the health and growth of an unborn fetus, it can be used to identify what is causing swelling or pain in various parts of the body, to determine the extent of damage following a heart attack or stroke, and to image and assess the health of organs, tissue, and other structures of human anatomy.
The work ultrasound techs do is essential, allowing physicians and other health professionals to assess and diagnose patients’ medical conditions and create treatment plans. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting 10% employment growth in the ultrasound field over the next ten years, and salaries are rising as the need for professionals grows.
If you are considering a career as an ultrasound tech, this guide will answer all of your questions, including how long it takes to become an ultrasound tech, what salary you can expect to be paid, where you can expect to work, and more.
Ultrasound technicians are trained to use ultrasound equipment to capture and record images of human anatomy. Some of their duties include:
- Manage and maintain the ultrasound equipment
- Ensure that proper settings are used
- Collect images to the physician’s specifications
- Inspect the images that they’ve collected for clarity and to be sure they capture the images that the physician has ordered
- Prepare reports on their findings
- Make sure that the records are appropriately recorded and filed
Because the ultrasound technician’s role involves direct patient contact, their responsibilities go beyond simply operating equipment. Strong communication skills are an asset for this profession. In the course of an ultrasound appointment, the technician will:
- Greet patients
- Prepare them for their examination
- Explain the purpose and process of the procedure
- Answer any questions they may have
- Calm and reassure nervous patients
Where Can Ultrasound Techs Work?
Ultrasound is an increasingly popular and useful tool. This means that ultrasound techs can be found in hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, and centers dedicated to diagnostic imaging.
Full-time ultrasound positions work forty hours per week, with schedules dependent upon the work environment.
Step 1: Earn Your High School Diploma or GED
Every aspiring ultrasound technician begins by earning their high school degree.
Step 2: Complete an Ultrasound Technician Program
You can choose to pursue either an Associate’s degree or a Bachelor’s degree. Though completing an Associate’s degree takes just two years and allows faster entry into the profession, a four-year bachelor’s degree has the benefit of more specialized education and training and may mean more opportunities, greater responsibilities, and higher salaries.
To be sure that your education properly prepares you to deliver high-quality patient care, it is important that the school you attend is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs or the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography.
Step 3: Gain Certification
After completing your education, you will be qualified to work as an ultrasound technician. Some states or employers may require licensure and certification. Certification is offered by a variety of professional organizations, including the,
Certification programs are also available for a variety of specialties within the ultrasound field, including obstetrics and cardiology.
The median annual ultrasound technician salary is $75,380, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). According to ZipRecruiter.com, ultrasound technicians who are paid hourly earn an average of $41 per hour.
Salary.com reports ultrasound technician salaries can be affected by the number of years you have worked in the field, with professionals who have five or more years of experience earning approximately $2,366 more per year.
Highest-Paying States for Ultrasound Technicians
- Washington: $82,609 per year
- New York: $78,389 per year
- Idaho: $74,664 per year
- California: $73,859 per year
- New Hampshire: $73,296 per year
Highest-Paying Cities for Ultrasound Technicians
- Green River, WY – $89,959 per year
- Santa Clara, CA – $85,645 per year
- San Leandro, CA – $83,787 per year
- San Francisco, CA – $83,669 per year
- Washington, DC – $82,609 per year
The Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting a 10% growth in employment demand for ultrasound technicians.
This rate is faster than that of other professions and is being driven by both retirements within the field and increased use of imaging tools to diagnose health conditions in the aging population.
Though certification is not always required to work as an ultrasound technician, those who pursue and attain certification are viewed more favorably when it comes to employment and professional advancement.
Once you have earned a certification, you will need to take continuing medical education courses to maintain your credentials.
Ultrasound Tech Certifying Organizations
Here is a list of the major certifying organizations for ultrasound techs, along with their continuing education requirements.
- ARDMS : Requires 30 CME credits within a three-year period.
- ARRT : Requires completion of 24 CME credits every two years
- CCI: Certified technicians must complete 16 CMEs every three years
If you’re interested in learning more about a career as an Ultrasound Technician, you can learn more by checking out these ultrasound organizations.