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Ultrasound technicians, also known as diagnostic medical sonographers, work in a specialized field of radiology using ultrasound-imaging technology to help doctors diagnose and treat a number of physical ailments. Those who are willing to travel and work short-term assignments can earn even more than the average $64,900 ultrasound technicians in the United States earn, according to May 2010 figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Ultrasound technicians may specialize in a number of areas. The most familiar to many people is obstetrics and gynecology, where technicians use ultrasound to view pregnant women’s babies. They may also specialize in abdominal sonography, neurosonography or breast sonography. Some also specialize in cardiac or vascular sonography.
Medical employment agencies employ travel ultrasound technicians to work at temporary jobs in locations around the country. Some agencies may employ them to work in locations around the world. Ultrasound techs can find jobs in their specific fields of work with medical staffing agencies as well.
According to Stat Group, LLC, traveling ultrasound technicians typically earn more than a non-traveling ultrasound tech. The employment services industry pays an average annual salary of $73,040, according to the BLS as of May 2010, but a 2010 salary report by the American Society of Radiologic Technologists reports that the average annual salary of a locum tenens sonographer is about $10,000 lower than reported by the BLS, at $63,169 per year.
Overall, the 10th percentile of all ultrasound technicians earn up to $44,900 per year, or $21.59 per hour, according to the BLS as of May 2010. The 25th percentile make up to $53,810 per year, or $25.87 per hour. The median annual salary is $64,380, or $30.95 per hour. The 75th percentile earn up to $75,290 per year, or $36.20 per hour, and the 90th percentile earn at least $88,490 annually, or $42.54 per hour.
Colleges, universities and professional schools pay ultrasound techs among the highest salaries in the country: $72,570 annually, or $34.89 per hour, as of May 2010, according to the BLS. Ultrasound technicians in outpatient care centers earn an average of $70,440 per year, or $33.87 per hour. Specialty hospitals (except substance abuse and psychiatric hospitals) pay an average of $68,390 per year, or $32.88 per hour. Voyage Staffing, a medical staffing firm, lists acute care hospitals, level one trauma hospitals, teaching hospitals, private doctors' offices and outpatient imaging centers as employers of its job seekers, including travel ultrasound technicians.
Locum tenens, or temporary, ultrasound technicians can travel around the country or around the world to work and typically receive benefits in addition to a base salary. For example, Stat Group, LLC offers completion bonuses; 401K retirement plans; dental and health insurance; life insurance; paid holidays and vacations; meal allowances; referral bonuses; lodging, car and transportation allowances; help with license reciprocation; paid rental car or personal car allowances; and malpractice insurance. Voyage Staffing also offers a complete benefits package and furnished, private housing, in addition to a retirement plan.
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- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Occup. Empl. & Wages – May 2010 - Diagnostic Medical Sonographers; May 2011
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Diagnostic Medical Sonographers; June 2010
- American Society of Radiologic Technologists: Radiologic Technologist Wage and Salary Survey 2010; June 2010
- Stat Group, LLC: Diagnostic Imaging Jobs
- Voyage Staffing: Diagnostic Imaging