Where Are the Best Ultrasound Salary Opportunities in the US?
If you’re seeking a career that’s rewarding and offers daily challenges, becoming an ultrasound tech might be an excellent fit. It’s true that a position in this sector offers a great salary and a healthy job market, but what exactly awaits you after completing a medical sonography (ultrasound) training course?
To get your future career off on the right foot, we’ve researched national facts and figures (via the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) to find the best ultrasound tech opportunities around the country. Read on to discover which states offer the highest salaries and strongest job markets.
What Is an Ultrasound?
Ultrasounds are high-pitched sound waves that form a precise picture of tumors, muscles, bones, organs, and even flow of blood. Rather than using radiation (like with x-rays), ultrasounds are considered harmless.
There are multiple applications of ultrasound and countless reasons for needing one. For example, ultrasounds can measure the liver in three dimensions, detect artery blockages, and even determine whether cancer has spread to the blood (thanks to Doppler flow machines).
The increased use of this technology means people working as ultrasound techs can expect to examine all sorts of medical issues throughout their working day.
Are Ultrasound Techs and Diagnostic Medical Sonographers the Same?
In general terms, an ultrasound tech and a diagnostic medical sonographer are the same career. Ultrasound techs are referred to interchangeably as diagnostic medical sonographers (DMS). The main job duty of any ultrasound tech requires taking precise, professional images of the inside of a patient’s body with state-of-the-art equipment. Other tasks include:
- Prepping and going over ultrasound procedures with patients.
- Keeping equipment in fine running order.
- Telling the difference between healthy and abnormal images.
- Submitting preliminary findings to medical staff (specialists, physicians, etc.).
- Recording patient records.
- Working with radiologists and physicians to understand images.
What Is the Career Outlook for Ultrasound Techs in the US?
Qualified ultrasound technologists are able to find careers in a wide variety of environments, whether at a hospital, imaging center, or outpatient clinic. Why are we so certain? Between 2016 and 2026, the medical sonography field is expected to increase by an impressive 23%.
A major reason for this rise in demand rests with a rapidly aging population. By 2030, 20% of Americans will be over the age of 65, and it’s projected that over 80% of these baby boomers already suffer from multiple chronic conditions (like heart disease, diabetes, and asthma). Physicians have begun relying on accurate ultrasounds to help avoid risky, invasive procedures.
What Is the Average Sonographer Salary?
If you’re looking into the exciting field of ultrasound technology, you’ll be happy to hear that it’s one of the highest-paid allied healthcare careers out there.
With the national median salary at more than $71,000, even the lowest 10% of earners stand to make a respectable average of $50,760. If you’re in the top 10% of your field, you may be able to command an annual salary that’s just shy of $100,000.
Like any career, salaries often depend on experience, education, and where you’re located.
Best Ultrasound Job Opportunities on the North Atlantic Coast
For a qualified ultrasound tech, the American northeast is a great place to seek work. While this region has great opportunities and excellent salaries, it’s important to remember that the northeast has some of the highest costs of living in the entire country.
If you’re a ‘city person’ and looking to kickstart your ultrasound career, the New Jersey-New York metropolitan area boasts the highest employment level in the US.
Salary Prospects in the Northeast
Massachusetts boasts the highest ultrasound salaries in the northeast, with an average $82,450 per year (though it definitely has one of the most competitive job markets for this sector).
Following close behind are Rhode Island with just under $80,000 and New Hampshire at $78,630. Though the lowest median pay in the region falls to Pennsylvania’s $67,440. This is still substantially more than what the average American earns per year.
What Salary Can I Expect in the Midwest?
Minnesota has taken the lead in average ultrasound salary earnings with a cool
$78,560, followed closely by Wisconsin ($75,760) and Illinois ($74,340). South Dakota is well-below the other states in the region – and country – with an average salary of $59,320.
Job Opportunities in the Midwest
Looking for four seasons and affordable living? DMS tech opportunities in the Midwest abound, with Wisconsin coming in first place for the highest ultrasound employment rate in the region.
Unsurprisingly, cities have the most job offerings, and the Great Lakes region is no different. Chicago – and its surrounding suburbs – has the third-highest employment level in the country.
Where Are the Best Ultrasound Jobs in the South?
The American South is an expansive region that provides exciting opportunities for ultrasound job seekers. Though average incomes are some of the lowest in the country, costs of living are, too. If you’re looking for an affordable area with warm winters and great food culture, you may find what you’re looking for in the South.
Sonography Job Prospects in the South
In addition to being one of the most populous American states, Texas boasts one of the best rates of employment for ultrasound techs. Looking for a great position? Houston offers the second-highest employment rate for a metropolitan area, with Dallas taking tenth place. The state of Florida comes in third for employment, too.
Are you an avid fan of the mountains? Tennessee provides one of the highest concentrations of sonography jobs in the US, as well as one of the best employment rates all around.
Even though Mississippi provides the lowest level of ultrasound jobs in the southern region, the birthplace of blues provides ample opportunity in rural areas. Seeking the quiet life? Mississippi has one of the highest employment rates for non-metropolitan regions anywhere.
Out of all the southern states, Georgia provides one of the highest rates of employment, with Atlanta landing in the top 10 for DMS tech employment.
What Salaries Are Available for Ultrasound Techs in The South?
We’ve done our research, and out of the five lowest-paying American states, four are in the American South. That’s not to say that these areas don’t have their benefits. In fact, the cost of living in these states is far lower than in most of the country. If home ownership is something you’re after, you might have a lot of luck here.
Sonographers in Texas easily earn the highest average wages in the South ($78,250), and most other states fall between $60,000 and $65,000. Alabama has the lowest average salary in the region at $55,750, though it’s considered one of the cheapest places to live in the country.
Where to Find the Best Ultrasound Jobs in the West
If you’re a heat lover, why not check out the Phoenix-Scottsdale metro area, which has the fourth most concentrated ultrasound job market in the country? Southern Colorado rewards qualified techs with one of the biggest salary packages for any rural area.
Salaries in the West
For a laid-back atmosphere and temperate weather, the Pacific Coast is an excellent place to sort your job prospects. Four out of the five top-paying states are located in this region.
With a whopping annual $91,700, California ultrasound techs lead the entire country in wages (Out of the ten highest-paying metro areas in the country, California holds nine spaces, too.).
Following close behind is The Aloha State at just over $90,000. Year after year, Hawaii is regarded as having the finest quality of healthcare in the United States, which makes for great job security. The state of Washington provides average earnings of $87,440, landing it in fourth place.
Remember that the farther east you go, you’ll find a huge difference in salaries. States like Wyoming and New Mexico provide average salaries of $60,870 and $62,970, respectively.
How Do I Become an Ultrasound Tech?
There are a few different routes to becoming an ultrasound tech. Some people get their associate degree while others may have the funds (and time) to dedicate to a bachelor’s program. Other hopefuls, however, pursue a certificate-based program.
Once you’ve chosen the option that works best for you, you have to choose the right ultrasound school. Our comprehensive guide gives you a clearer picture of the application process, as well as the steps for training and certification.
No matter your decision, you should choose an accredited diagnostic medical sonography program that thoroughly prepares you for your future career.
How to Become Certified as an Ultrasound Tech
Once you graduate from an accredited program, you’ll be able to attempt the certification exam through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) or American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).
Most diagnostic medical sonographers hold at least one specialization in fields like vascular, cardiac, abdominal, or OB/GYN. Holding a certification in one or more areas improves your skill set and marketability, making you a solid competitor in your field.
Kick-Start Your Career as an Ultrasound Tech
Are you living in the New Jersey area and looking to take your first step towards a successful career? Check out the AIMS Diagnostic Medical Sonography certificate program page and contact a representative today.