Which States Have the Most Job Openings for Ultrasound Technicians?

When you finish school, regardless of your career, choosing where to live is a huge decision. One factor to consider is that job markets could be tighter in some areas than others. If you can be flexible about where you live, you’ll have more openings to which you can apply, increasing your chances of finding a job.

Where to Find a Job as an Ultrasound Technician

According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the states hiring the most ultrasound techs, in relation to overall population, were as follows in 2008:

  1. Florida
  2. Connecticut
  3. New Jersey
  4. Alabama
  5. Tennessee

You should note that the states that hire the most ultrasound techs aren’t necessarily those that pay the best. If you want to work in a state with the highest annual salary, on average, you should look to the following locations:

  • Oregon: $76,570
  • Washington: $75,320
  • Connecticut: $74,260
  • Massachusetts: $73,690
  • Alaska: $73,290

Getting the Best Salary as an Ultrasound Technician

In general, you’ll also find higher average salaries if you’re willing to live in a city, rather than in a more rural or suburban area. However, keep in mind that working and living in a city can mean a very high cost of living, which can easily eat up that higher paycheck, so the higher salary isn’t always the better choice.

That said, the metropolitan areas with the highest average salaries for ultrasound techs are as follows:

  • Santa Cruz – Watonsville, California: $95,170
  • Worcester, Massachusetts/Connecticut: $88,500
  • San Jose – Sunnyvale – Santa Clara, California: $87,040
  • Oakland – Fremont – Hayward, California: $82,010
  • San Francisco – San Mateo – Redwood City, California: $80,420

Although average salaries are lower, you can find the most job opportunities in the following metropolitan areas, if you’re having a problem finding a job in any of the above cities:

  • Sebastian – Vero Beach, Florida
  • Jackson, Tennessee
  • Florence – Muscle Shoals, Alabama
  • Modesto, California
  • Vineland – Millville – Bridgeton, New Jersey

At these locations, average salary for ultrasound techs ranges from $47,000 to $65,000, so even here, you can see that you can make a large salary as an ultrasound technician. Best of all, you can get started down this career path with just an associate’s degree and a year of hands-on training, so it is a career change you can make quickly.The infographic below shows the mean wage for sonographers by state in the U.S.

Once you have an associate’s degree in sonography, a bachelor’s degree only takes an additional two years to complete, but there’s a large jump in your earning potential. This is a time investment you want to make, since some employers will even pay for your school and you can pursue your bachelor’s degree online, meaning that you can still work while you go to school. To earn top dollar, advanced education is important, so look into specializing or getting your Bachelor of Science in medical imaging.

Location Isn’t Everything

Even though employment in the diagnostic medical sonography field is booming, and is expected to grow wildly in the next decade, there will still be competition for jobs, and getting a degree or certification, as well as some specialized knowledge, will help you outperform the competition. A few steps you can take to assure that you’re the most desirable possible candidate for a job in diagnostic medical sonography are:

  1. Get a degree in medical assisting or medical imaging, or at least a vocational certificate for ultrasound technicians. Proving that you have the wherewithal to finish a course of study and get good grades shows employers that you’re committed and willing to work hard, and gives you the knowledge you need to hit the ground running in your first job.
  2. Register with the appropriate accrediting agency or registry for your field. Most ultrasound techs register with the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography, but echocardiographers or ultrasound technicians who specialize in imaging the heart should look into Cardiovascular Credentialing International for registry and certification.
  3. Work your way up the food chain at whatever facility you first get hired at. One of the main ways ultrasound technicians can advance their careers is by taking on managerial or administrative roles, so if you can get promoted to shift supervisor and prove your mettle in a leadership role, your next job will likely offer more responsibility and better pay.
  4. Diversify your specialties. If you started out in obstetric/gynecologic sonography, take some continuing education classes in neurosonography or abdominal sonography. Being an expert in one field, but competent and able to work in others, will give you a wider spread of job opportunities.

Even if you are not hoping to move into a managerial position, continuing education is a necessary part of a diagnostic sonography career. New imaging technologies are developed regularly, and old machinery is updated or replaced. Medical practices may change, and every aspect of the industry is being rapidly computerized, especially data storage and record keeping, all of which greatly affects ultrasound technicians. Expect to take a few continuing education classes every two to three years just to stay up to date, and more if you want to advance your position and be on the cutting edge of the medical imaging industry.

Degrees for Ultrasound Technicians

If you’re just at the start of your journey toward becoming an ultrasound technician, then it might help to have the various educational options that lead to that career laid out for you. While there are no colleges that offer exclusively ultrasound technician degrees, and very few degrees that focus only on sonography, there are more general degrees in medical assistantship and medical imaging that can prepare you for a variety of support jobs within the medical establishment. Listed below are a few of the degrees you could pursue if diagnostic medical sonography or radiologic imaging appeal to you.

  • Associate’s Degree in Medical Assisting: This degree doesn’t focus on sonography by default, so you’ll have to choose classes that prepare you for ultrasound technician jobs, but the well rounded base of courses in patient interaction, medical ethics, and anatomy and physiology that you’ll get will definitely prepare you to enter the field of diagnostic medical imaging.
  • Master of Science in Medical Imaging: This degree is for people with prior experience or training in a medical imaging field, likely radiologic imaging or sonography. Someone with an MS in Medical Imaging will likely work closely with a physician to capture and interpret images using various techniques, from ultrasound to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography(PET).
  • PhD in Radiology: Since ultrasound technician work is not a stepping stone toward a career in medicine, people who want to be a doctor and are also interested in medical imaging techniques should consider becoming radiologists.

Other Ideas for Potential Ultrasound Technician Students

Another field to consider if you’re interested in a supporting role in the medical establishment is that of medical machine repairer. The equipment used daily by ultrasound technicians, radiographers, radiologists, and x-ray technicians is extremely valuable and requires meticulous maintenance. If you can develop the skills to maintain those machines, you’ll play a valued role in the care of patients without actually having to interact with them. Medical equipment repair is a growing industry, and workers receive a median salary of around $40,000.

Whether you pursue general medical assistantship, diagnostic medical sonography, equipment repair, or full on medical practice, you can be fairly confident that jobs will materialize for you. The medical industry as a whole is one of the few “recession-proof” fields that has continued to add jobs and grow through economic slumps as well as booms.

Get In Touch With the Industry

If the above information still leaves you uncertain about whether diagnostic medical sonography is right for you, the best thing to do is get in touch with some professionals in the industry and ask them questions about their work. If you can interview an ultrasound tech, or even shadow them for a few hours at work, you’ll get a better idea of what the job is like than any web site can give you. If you’ve heard enough, though, and you know you’re ready, use the widget embedded in this article to search for degree programs that match your needs and can get you started on your way towards a successful and lucrative career as a diagnostic medical sonographer.

Top Online Health Services Programs

Adventist University of Health Sciences
BS in Radiologic Sciences
Adventist University of Health Sciences — Founded in 1992, the Adventist University of Health Sciences is formerly the Florida Hospital College of Health Sciences, a school focused on privding higher education in the several fields of healthcare. The BS in Health Information Technology program prepares students to become radiologic technicians. Adventist University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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