There’s a growing demand for sonographers, also known as ultrasound techs, in the United States. This job may be right for you if you’re looking for a career that blends medicine, technology, and public service. Learn facts about becoming a sonographer/ultrasound tech, average sonographer salary, ways to boost your income, and more in this guide.
What Does a Sonographer Tech Do?
Sonographers, or diagnostic ultrasound technicians, are allied healthcare professionals. They help doctors and other health professionals identify patients’ conditions by using equipment that produces high-frequency waves to record images of body parts.
The terms sonographer and ultrasound tech may be used interchangeably, but they refer to the same profession. However, ultrasound refers to the tool used to take a picture, while the word sonogram refers to the picture the ultrasound creates.
Although ultrasound techs can work in various settings, their job duties are consistent and may include:
- Performing ultrasounds and ensuring the probe is capturing images correctly
- Explaining procedures to patients
- Spreading ultrasound gel on the area(s) to be examined
- Maintaining ultrasound equipment and sterilizing examination rooms
- Evaluating the quality of images
- Interpreting captured images
- Presenting preliminary imaging findings to doctors and other members of the healthcare team
- Maintaining patients’ records and adding notes to any ultrasound-related procedure
How Much Does a Sonographer Make?
Vivian lists the average sonographer’s salary as $36.44 an hour or $75,795.20 annually. Comparing the annual pay for sonographers by state helps you learn which states pay more than others.
|State||Average Annual Pay||Average Hourly Pay|
Where Do Sonographers Get Paid the Most?
The state of Hawaii paid sonographers the most in August 2022 with an average annual ultrasound tech salary of $102,148.80 or $49 an hour. You can also find high-paying sonographer jobs in these states:
|State||Average Annual Pay||Average Hourly Pay|
What States Employ the Most Medical Diagnostic Sonographers?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), California has the highest employment level for sonographers. Other states that employ a large number of ultrasound techs include:
- New York
What Are the Top-Paying Industries for Sonographers?
Sonographers can work in a variety of settings. They may find employment in hospitals, imaging centers, and physician offices. Many recent graduates of sonography primarily find employment in a hospital setting.
Regarding pay based on work setting, the BLS listed outpatient care centers as the highest paying employers. The mean annual sonographer salary in this setting is $109,670 or $54 an hour. The highest-paying industries for sonographers include:
|Industry||Annual Mean Wage||Hourly Mean Wage|
|Outpatient Care Centers||$109,670||$52.73|
|Management of Companies and Enterprises||$99,640||$47.91|
|Offices of Other Health Practitioners||$91,260||$43.88|
|Specialty (except Psychiatric and Substance Abuse) Hospitals||$85,980||$41.34|
|Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools||$84,330||$40.54|
What Is the Highest Paid Sonography Specialty?
Sonographers can work in various settings and work with different patients. Some sonography specialties include:
- Diagnostic Medical Sonography: This specialty works with physicians to help patients who need internal imaging for assessments. Diagnostic medical sonographers typically work in hospitals and medical diagnostic testing centers.
- Diagnostic Cardiovascular Sonography: Also known as cardiac sonography or echocardiography, sonographers work closely with cardiologists in this specialty. They take 2D and 3D images of the heart to help doctors identify any irregularities.
- Abdominal Sonography: This specialty focuses on the abdomen. Most sonographers in this specialty undergo extensive training to help doctors identify conditions involving various abdominal systems. Abdominal sonographers may take images of the liver, kidneys, pancreas, gallbladder, spleen, and abdominal aorta.
- Obstetric Sonography: These sonographers specialize in taking images of fetuses during pregnancy. Obstetric sonographers can help doctors keep track of fetal development and identify potential due dates. They may work in hospitals, facilities with maternity wards, and outpatient care centers.
- Musculoskeletal Sonography: Musculoskeletal sonographers take diagnostic images of the musculoskeletal system. The images they take help doctors to identify issues affecting the patient’s mobility. Musculoskeletal sonographers often work in hospitals, emergency rooms, and medical facilities that treat traumatic injuries.
- Breast Sonography: This specialty focuses on taking diagnostic images of the breast and its surrounding tissues. They often work with patients with abnormal mammograms or breast exam results. Breast sonographers’ images help specialists identify abnormal growths in the breast that may indicate breast cancer.
- Neurosonology Sonography: Neurosonology sonographers use specialized equipment called the transcranial Doppler (TCD) to take diagnostic images of the brain. They help physicians diagnose conditions affecting the brain, including cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and encephalitis.
- Vascular Sonography: Vascular sonographers or vascular sonography technologists are essential members of a vascular team. They perform noninvasive vascular exams to help physicians diagnose and treat vascular conditions.
Zippia listed Neurosonology Sonography, or Neuro Sonography, as the highest-paid sonography specialty. The average annual pay for a neuro sonographer is $112,000 or $54 an hour.
|Sonography Specialty||Average Annual Pay||Average Hourly Pay|
|Diagnostic Medical Sonography||$75,380||$36|
How Does a Sonographer’s Salary Compare to Other Similar Healthcare Jobs?
On average, a sonographer’s pay is 21% higher than other allied healthcare jobs. Comparable allied healthcare jobs and their average pay include:
|Healthcare Job||Average Annual Pay||Average Hourly Pay|
|Cardiac Monitoring Technician||$59,612.80||$28.66|
|Medical Laboratory Technician||$54,787.20||$26.34|
|Behavioral Health Technician||$49,940.80||$24.01|
|Centralized Sterile Technician||$39,540.80||$19.01|
|Sterile Processing Technician||$39,540.80||$19.01|
|Emergency Room Technician||$38,833.60||$18.67|
How Can You Increase Your Pay as a Sonographer?
Several factors come into play when it comes to boosting your salary as a sonographer. These factors include location, experience, education, specialization, and work setting.
Job Location: Location isn’t just the state where you’re working. Your demographic area matters, as well. For example, California is one of the states that pays sonographers the most. However, pay can vary from one part of the state to another. Sonographers in San Francisco earn more than ultrasound techs in Santa Barbara. Typically, the closer you are to an urban or metropolitan area, the higher your pay.
Experience and Education: Another way to boost your income potential is to gain experience and continue your education. You can also earn one of several professional certifications through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) or your Sonography RT credential through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) and join professional associations like the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (SDMS).
Specialization: The type of sonography you practice can affect your pay. Neurosonology Sonography is the highest-paying sonography specialty. The average annual wage for a neuro sonographer is $112,000 or $54 an hour.
Work Setting: Where you practice can impact both your pay and career advancement. The BLS reports that outpatient care centers are the highest-paying industries for sonographers. The average annual salary for this setting is $109,670 or $53 an hour. Traveling sonographer jobs also pay well. Traveling ultrasound techs earned $2,616 per week in August 2022 on Vivian or about $136,032 annually.