How Much Do Ultrasound Techs Make a Year?

With medical professionals looking to stay in demand so long as human society exists in its present form, lots of young high school graduates will want to invest their time and resources into following a career in this field.

Ultrasound Techs salaryOne such career, that doesn’t involve lots of hands-on medical treatment and focuses more on high-tech diagnostics, is that of an Ultrasound Technician, also known as Diagnostic Medical Sonographer.

But before making the jump to an ultrasound technician career, it would be prudent to get up to speed about the pay rate for ultrasound technicians and the prospects of the same – I’ve written this guide to help you with just that.

What factors affect an ultrasound technician’s salary?

Education, Credentials, and Experience

Ultrasound technicians schoolsAs a retirement crisis (or opportunity, some would say) looms shortly, there is a projected shortage of diagnostic specialists, including ultrasound technicians.

For this reason, lots of employers are offering competitive salaries to hire even freshly graduated sonographers so that they can groom and retain them for future viability.

The starting ultrasound salary averages at about $48,720, but this can be quickly increased if you demonstrate field skills, continually improve your educational profile, and bolster your resume with professional certifications.

If you started with an associate’s degree, you could go for a bachelor’s degree to broaden not only your expertise but to also demonstrate your commitment to the profession.

You could diversify into one or more specialties such as OB / GYN sonography, abdominal sonography, cardiac sonography, etc. if you want to enhance your pay.

obgyn sonographyAs an example, cardiac sonographer ultrasound technician salary is approximated at $74.5K a year on average, which is the highest by specialty, closely followed by OB / GYN and abdominal. Long story short, ultrasound technician salary varies a great deal based on how qualified you are.

If you’re especially dedicated to this profession and willing to study and work overtime, you could go after multiple specialties.

It would involve lots of retracing your steps as you re-enroll in fast-track programs to earn each specialization after the first one, but it will add a great deal of value to your professional outlook.

And employers tend to value a professional who can handle multiple types of specialized patient groups, as opposed to hiring a different sonographer for each group.

Naturally, since you would be doing the work of multiple professionals, your salary would be proportionally higher.

In addition to this, you can improve your salary prospects by getting into instructive, managerial, administrative and other peripheral roles while still maintaining ties to your discipline.

Location

How much does an ultrasound tech make also depends on where they’re practicing their profession – for instance, the median ultrasound technician pay per hour in California was $46.38 (~$95.9K per annum), the highest salary among all states.

Besides the generous ultrasound technician salary in California, there’s Oregon, Washington and Massachusetts, and Arizona that all pay over $80K per year on the median scale.

The ultrasound technician salary in Texas was estimated at a median of $65,600 in 2013, and from here, a slump in average pay can be noticed in the various states until the other coast is reached, with Alabama, West Virginia, Arkansas, South Carolina and Louisiana, all paying under $60 a year.

Here’s a tabular breakdown of the ultrasound technician salary hourly and annual, for both the highest and lowest paying states:

StateHourly Median WageYearly Median Wage
California$46.38$96,480
Oregon$42.29$87,960
Washington$41.17$85,630
Massachusetts$40.13$83,460
Arizona$39.92$83,030
Louisiana$28.08$58,420
South Carolina$28.67$59,630
Arkansas$28.11$58,470
West Virginia$27.09$56,340
Alabama$26.28$54,660

Within the state, there’s a good deal of variation too: typically, the metropolitan areas will offer greater pay rate than suburban and (obviously) rural areas.

For example, sonographers working in the Vallejo-Fairfield area of California make over $120.9K a year, those who work in San Francisco earn over $116.4K a year, and those in Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley get an annual pay of around $114.66K.

Going by available data, it would appear that the wages even in the metropolitan areas suffer a decline as you move into the eastern part of the US. For example, one of the lowest paying metropolitan regions for ultrasound technicians is Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, Alabama at $42,770.

That said, there are still some larger metropolises that offer better pay e.g. in places like Los Angeles, California; Charleston, West Virginia; Birmingham, Alabama; Pensacola, Florida; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Houston, Texas the salary varies from $52,950 to $65,910 a year.

Certain places in the North, such as Davenport and Pittsburgh, in Iowa, have annual salaries that line up pretty close to the $66K mark.

Industry Setting

According to the BLS, some 36,680 sonographers work in surgical and general medical hospitals and get paid an ultrasound technician salary hourlyaverage annual salary of around $70,500, which is pretty close to both the mean and median salaries for the profession in general.

Ultrasound technicians working in medical and diagnostic laboratories make roughly $74,360 per annum, while those employed in doctor’s offices get paid $68,460 a year on average.

The salary for sonographers employed in outpatient care centers is significantly higher, at $83,600, whereas research and instructive sonographers make around $75,850 a year.
So to speak, if you want to get paid more, you’ll need to consider your intended workplace too.

How’s the outlook?

With lots baby boomers expected to retire in the current decade, while still choosing to remain active in their golden Ultrasound technicians in hospitalyears, it is a foregone conclusion that medical treatment and diagnostic experts will become something of a hot commodity.

This in turn will fuel the employment prospects of diagnostic sonographers – predicted at roughly 44% during 2010-2020 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics!

Compare this to other medical diagnostic and treatment professions, where the expected growth is around 26%. In fact, the projected employment gains in diagnostic sonography are more than thrice the expected growth for all professions in the country!

This is partially because some patients are beginning to lean more towards ultrasound for diagnosis compared to more invasive and expensive diagnostic approaches, or dangerous ones that involve exposure to harmful radiation.