Medical sonographers, sometimes called ultrasound technologists or ultrasound technicians, use sound waves to produce an image. This allows them to "see" inside a patient's body and diagnose conditions without surgery or other invasive techniques. Ultrasound technologists usually need a postsecondary certification or an associate degree before they can be employed.
National Pay Rate
In 2012, ultrasound technologists reported an average wage of $31.90 per hour or $66,360 per year to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median-earning 50 percent of these workers reported annual earnings ranging from $54,260 to $76,890. The highest-paid 10 percent earned $91,070 or more per year, while the lowest 10 percent earned $44,990 or less.
Pay by Location
Ultrasound techs working in the West reported the highest average incomes in 2012, while the lowest average pay was concentrated in the Southeast. Among the states, California reported the highest average pay at $84,220 per year. It was followed by Oregon at $81,010 and Washington at $79,980. Massachusetts ranked fourth, with an average salary of $78,450 per year. The lowest-paying state was Alabama, where medical sonographers earned an average of $47,540 per year.
Pay by Employer
Most ultrasound technologists work in general hospitals and reported an average annual income of $66,390 in 2012. Those working in physician's offices reported similar average earnings, at $66,900 per year. Sonographers working in medical laboratories made slightly less at an average of $64,340 per year, while those employed by outpatient care centers averaged $72,200. Diagnostic medical sonographers working at colleges and universities reported the highest average income for their profession, at $74,940 per year.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment opportunities for ultrasound techs to be excellent in coming years. Because ultrasound technology is evolving and increasingly being used in place of more expensive or invasive procedures, the need for trained sonographers is growing rapidly. The BLS expects the number of jobs for ultrasound technologists to grow 44 percent from 2010 to 2020, which is much higher than the 14 percent projected growth rate for all occupations.