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Ultrasound technicians' responsibilities extend beyond operating imaging equipment. They may provide parents with the opportunity to hear their baby's heartbeat for the first time or offer support to anxious patients as physicians provide diagnoses or treatments.
Due to the nature of the profession, ultrasound technicians generally experience great satisfaction with their work. Coupled with the employment outlook and average compensation, the position offers an attractive option for individuals seeking roles in the healthcare field.
This guide details information on ultrasound technician salary expectations, along with ways they can increase their pay throughout their careers.
Average Salary for Ultrasound Technicians
According to Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) May 2021 data, ultrasound technicians earn a median salary of $75,380, which amounts to $36.24 per hour. The lowest 10% of technicians earn an average of $59,640, while the top 10% earn $101,650 or more. Ultrasound technician salaries depend upon multiple factors, including education, certification, and specialty.
Pay also varies depending upon the technician's geographical location and practice setting. The BLS reports that ultrasound technicians in California, Washington, D.C., and Hawaii earn the highest salaries in the field. Individuals in outpatient care centers, hospitals, and physician's offices also benefit from higher-than-average yearly salaries.
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The Highest-Paying States for Ultrasound Technician
Outside of Washington, D.C., the highest-paying states for ultrasound technicians are in the western part of the country. These states' high cost-of-living figures contribute significantly to the higher salaries.
According to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, the two most expensive areas to live in are Hawaii and Washington, D.C., with California, Alaska, and Oregon following close behind. The higher ultrasound technician pay allows them to live comfortably in these regions.
The states with the highest average annual pay for ultrasound technicians — considered by the BLS under the umbrella of diagnostic medical sonographers — are:
|District of Columbia||$109,350|
4 Ways to Increase Pay As an Ultrasound Technician
Ultrasound technicians can pursue several pathways to increase their pay. Consider the following options to boost your earning power in the field.
The American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography is the leading provider of certifications for ultrasound technicians. Options include registered diagnostic cardiac sonographer, registered diagnostic cardiac sonographer, and midwife sonographer.
Earning a certification can increase employment opportunities. Many employers require applicants to have certification as a minimum eligibility requirement, even when it is not required in their state. It also highlights their commitment to the field, ensuring they have an up-to-date understanding of recent trends, as certification requires renewal every two years.
An ultrasound technician can complete a one-year certification program or earn an associate or bachelor's degree. Certification programs typically take 12-18 months to complete, while associate degrees require two years and bachelor's programs typically take four years.
In completing a degree over a certification program, ultrasound technicians gain more knowledge and experience. Due to the added training, technicians can explore additional employment opportunities. Prospective employers prefer applicants with associate and bachelor's degrees, typically paying higher salaries to candidates with more expertise.
Most specializations focus on specific parts or systems of the body. While there are specializations available to ultrasound technicians, some of the more popular areas include abdominal, breast, cardiac, and vascular.
Choosing a specialization allows ultrasound technicians to focus on a specific area and gain an advanced skill set. A deeper understanding of specialized work makes the technician more of a commodity to employers, increasing their earning potential.
Certain industries provide ultrasound technicians with salaries above the national average. Technicians should choose practice settings such as outpatient care centers ($100,990), hospitals ($77,770), physician offices ($77,760), or medical/diagnostic laboratories ($75,430) to earn higher salaries.
Location can also impact an ultrasound technician's earning potential. States such as California ($109,350), Hawaii ($99,390), and Washington ($95,990) offer higher salaries. However, the cost of living in those areas is also quite high. Therefore, technicians should search for states where their salaries complement the cost of living.
Frequently Asked Questions About Ultrasound Technician Salaries
Prospective ultrasound technicians may have questions about the field. NurseJournal.org offers answers to frequently asked questions below, covering salary, skills, and employment projections.
What is the highest-paid ultrasound tech?
Ultrasound technicians who specialize can benefit from earning higher salaries. According to Salary.com, vascular, cardiac, and OBGYN offer some of the highest-paid specialties. On average, vascular sonographers earn $85,370, cardiac sonographers earn $87,220, and OBGYN sonographers earn $92,340 annually.
Where do ultrasound technicians make the most money?
Ultrasound technicians make the most money in the western part of the United States. California, Hawaii, Washington, and Oregon offer technicians some of the highest pay in the country.
Practice settings also allow professionals to maximize their ultrasound technician pay. Four of the top settings include outpatient care centers ($100,990), hospitals ($77,770), physician offices ($77,760), and medical/diagnostic laboratories ($75,430).
According to the BLS, those looking for regions that provide higher pay and a lower cost of living can focus on areas like central New York ($77,450), Kansas ($76,710), and North Carolina ($75,370).
What skills do ultrasound technicians need?
Ultrasound technicians need to acquire various technical skills — most crucially their ability to expertly use medical imaging equipment. Along with technical skills, ultrasound technicians must effectively communicate, make connections with others, and pay close attention to details.
Are ultrasound technicians in demand?
Yes. The BLS projects a job growth rate of 14% from 2020-2030 for medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians, which is faster than the 8% growth for all other occupations.
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