Best Sonography Career Opportunities in the US
Looking for a challenging and rewarding career in allied healthcare that satisfies your passion for patient care, allows you to assist with diagnoses, and provides a competitive salary? Diagnostic medical sonography could be the right choice.
We’ve researched the facts and figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find the best sonography opportunities in the United States. Which state offers the best opportunities and salaries? Read on to learn more.
What Is Diagnostic Medical Sonography?
Before you enroll in a diagnostic medical sonography program, it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into. Diagnostic medical sonography relates to examining internal body structures using ultrasound equipment.
What Does a Sonographer Do?
As there are many uses for ultrasounds, sonographers will usually specialize in more than one area, such as cardiac, breast, or OB/GYN.
Using DMS scanning technology, an ultrasound technologist may investigate abdominal and pelvic organs, assist with prenatal care, or determine musculoskeletal and vascular system issues.
Here are some of the job responsibilities for a diagnostic medical sonographer:
- Prep patients for procedures by taking a patient’s history and answering any questions about the procedure
- Prep and maintain scanning and imaging equipment
- Take diagnostic images ensuring the quality of images
- Analyze the images
- Recognize abnormalities
- Provide preliminary findings for physicians
- Record findings and keep track of patients’ records
National Career Outlook for Sonographers
The field of diagnostic medical sonography is expected to grow by about 23% between now and 2026. Sonography skills continue to be heavily relied upon, as the baby-boomer population ages and the demand for diagnosing medical conditions increases.
There are a number of employment environments for professional sonographers across a variety of healthcare facilities, including hospitals, physicians offices, outpatient centers, and medical and diagnostic laboratories.
How Much Does a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer Make?
The national average sonographer salary is $69,650 per year. The lower end of the scale is around $50,000, and the top 10% of earners make a very respectable $99,000. In fact, diagnostic medical sonographers are among one of the top-paying allied healthcare careers.
Like most professions, salaries differ greatly, depending on education level, experience, and location. Generally speaking, areas offering lower salaries have lower living costs, and facilities in rural areas tend to pay less than metropolitan areas.
Once you’ve finished your diagnostic medical sonography program and have gained your certificate, where should you begin your career?
Sonography Job Opportunities in the Northeast
The northeast region is a lucrative area for both employment opportunities and salary expectations. New York and Pennsylvania have some of the highest sonographer employment in the country, coming in at 4th and 5th place, respectively.
If you like city living – and are looking for career opportunities as a sonographer – the metropolitan areas of New York and New Jersey are a good place to start. Not only do these states have the highest regional rate of employment, but also across the US.
Salary Prospects in the Northeast
The lowest average salary in the region is found in Pennsylvania. That said, at $66,010, it’s still higher than what the average American makes each year. Head to Massachusetts and you could be looking at $81,050, the highest in the region.
If you happen to head to New York or New Jersey (where the jobs are most concentrated), you’d be looking at a mean salary of more than $70,000. High salaries in the area are necessary, as the cost of living in northeastern cities are among the highest in the country.
Sonography Jobs in the South
The American South covers a huge area, and the opportunities available are as vast and as diverse as the region itself. Whether you are a sun seeker, culture vulture, or food lover, The South has something to please everyone with any budget. Which of the southern states will give you the perfect work-life balance?
Sonography Job Prospects
In the southwest region, Texas has the 2nd highest rate of employment for sonographers, countrywide. Head southeast to Florida for the 3rd highest. Tennessee is in the top 5 States with the highest concentration of jobs available. The Volunteer State also boasts one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.
What Salary Can a Sonographer Command in The South?
Out of the five lowest paying states, four of them are in the South: Alabama, Louisiana, West Virginia, and Tennessee. That said, these areas are more rural, which generally means lower costs of living.
West Virginia offers the lowest average salary in the southeast region at just over $58,000. In North Carolina, expect to command a whopping average of $64,630.
Following the sun? Head to Arizona where you can expect an average of $77,580. The Grand Canyon State offers the highest average pay in the entire region. If you’re attracted to the Texan job market, however, then you can expect a nearly-identical average salary of $77,370.
Florida may have the 3rd highest concentration of DMS jobs, but the average pay across the state is on the lower end of the scale at $62,650. However, you can find areas offering more, like in Tallahassee, where the average is $3,500 more per year.
Job Prospects for DMS in the Deep South
Mississippi may have the lowest level of employment for sonographers in the region, but if you prefer the quiet, rural life, The Magnolia State has one of the highest national rates of employment for non-metropolitan areas.
The best state in the Deep South – offering both high levels of employment and the 2nd-highest rate of pay for the region – is Georgia. The Atlanta area is one of the top 10 metropolitan regions with the highest employment level.
What Income Levels Can You Expect in the Deep South?
Alabama, with an average annual salary of $54,940 is the lowest average salary for the nation. Louisiana is just a little more at $56,130, but this could go far in Louisiana as it has more affordable towns that any other state.
In the Peach State, a professional sonographer can command an average annual wage of $62,560. The highest salary in the region is Mississippi with $64,540.
Sonography Jobs in the Midwest
DMS techs in the Great Lakes region will be happy to learn that Wisconsin has the lowest rate of unemployment in the region. The north-eastern region of the Badger State tops the table for nonmetropolitan areas with the highest level of employment for sonographers.
Minnesota is currently ranked 3rd for the state offering the best standard of living. The study took average household income, cost of living, and employment opportunities into consideration. With the highest average salary in the region ($77,680), Minnesota is a great place to consider job hunting.
What Salary Can I Expect in the Midwest?
You might want to avoid South Dakota for its lower-than-average sonography wage. At $58,730, it is the lowest in the region and actually one of the lowest in the country.
Michigan ($61,490), Iowa ($62,470), and Ohio ($62,870) are on the lower end of the scale for the region. That said, Missouri ($69,580), Wisconsin ($72,920), and Illinois ($74,770) are on the higher end.
Sonography Jobs in the West
California and Washington are your top two destinations in the Pacific region. Not only does California have the highest employment level for diagnostic medical sonographers, it also has the highest average salary countrywide at $93,350.
Washington is the third highest paying state and the cities of Walla Walla and Bellingham have some of the highest concentration of sonography jobs throughout the country and the region.
Salaries in the West
The West offers three of America’s top paying states for sonographers. Following California’s lead, Washington falls 3rd with $86,970 and Colorado in 5th place with $81,830.
On the other end of the scale, the lowest average salaries in the region fall to New Mexico with $67,880 and Wyoming with $66,070.
How To Become a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
There are a number of paths to becoming a diagnostic medical sonographer. For instance, you can choose between an associate degree, bachelor degree program, or a certificate-based program.
The main difference between degree programs and certificate programs is the length of study time and cost. A diagnostic medical sonography certificate program can last around two years, while the degree programs may be two or four years, and often more expensive.
Choosing the best ultrasound school can be a daunting process, so we created this step-by-step DMS guide to walk you through it from application to certification.
Whichever you opt for, make sure it’s an accredited diagnostic medical sonography program, which helps students prepare for certification.
Upon graduation, students can choose to get certified through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) or the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS).
Sonographers can get certified in various specialties including Ob/Gyn, Abdomen, Adult Echocardiography, and Vascular Technology.
There are a number of reasons for choosing a diagnostic ultrasound career, but the multiple specialties available to you is incredibly enticing. Gaining certification in one or more areas offers greater job flexibility and increases your employability.
Start Your Career in Sonography Today
If you’re in the New Jersey area, take the first step towards a successful ultrasound career by checking out the AIMS Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program. You’ll find everything you need to get started in this exciting field.