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4 Trends that may Affect Ultrasound Tech Salaries

By Aimee Hosler,

Many ultrasound technicians are drawn to their professions by a love for patient care, but solid earnings may help seal the deal. Here is an in-depth look at the typical ultrasound tech salary based on a number of factors, with tips for improving one's own prospects.

National ultrasound technician salary estimates

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), diagnostic medical sonographers earned a mean annual wage of $64,900 in 2010, an increase of $1,260 from the previous year. Similarly, a 2011 report by Salary.com notes that the typical ultrasound tech salary is $64,478.

These averages can provide those considering ultrasound technician school with a rough idea of how much they can expect to earn a few years down the road, but do not help them estimate their value throughout their careers. How much an ultrasound tech earns depends on a variety of factors, including location, education, experience and facility.

Location: States offering the best ultrasound tech salaries

When it comes to estimating how much an ultrasound tech can earn, where they work can be among the most significant factors. According to the BLS 2010 data, ultrasound techs earned the most within the following states:

  • Massachusetts
  • Oregon
  • Colorado
  • California
  • Washington

Ultrasound techs working in cities and suburbs tend to earn more than those in less populated areas, though some rural facilities in desperate need of new workers are willing to offer higher salaries or other incentives. Still, oftentimes urban areas' higher earnings are offset by higher living costs, which is why it is important to consider other factors that can influence one's salary.

Education: Certification pays off

Like most professions, education and ongoing training can improve one's value over time. According to the BLS, employers prefer candidates with formal training from accredited ultrasound technician schools, and those with four years of training are more desirable than graduates of one- or two-year programs. Continuing education and professional ultrasound technology certification can further enhance one's earnings. According to a 2011 report by PayScale.com, the following are some of the most common ultrasound tech certifications and their typical salaries:

  • Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS): $49,746 to $74,100
  • Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT): $50,550 to $62,004
  • Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS): $56,389 to $69,000

Experience: Enhancing value

It is likely no surprise that as with most professionals, an ultrasound tech's average salary tends to increase with experience. As an aging population continues to boost demand for sonographic services, experienced techs will be more valuable than ever. The following is a list of typical ultrasound technology salaries by years of experience, as reported by PayScale in 2011:

  • Less than 1 year: $30,701 to $50,031
  • 1 to 4 years: $35,743 to $51,106
  • 5 to 9 years: $42,353 to $60,545
  • 10 to 19 years: $52,288 to $77,643
  • 20+ years: $55,473 to $75,000

Environment: Employers and earnings

One final and often overlooked factor that influences ultrasound technician salary is work environment: while the BLS reported that nearly 60 percent of ultrasound techs worked in hospitals in 2009, hospital techs were among the lowest paid. The BLS notes that those working in the following facilities typically earn the most:

  • Employment services
  • Management companies
  • Specialty centers, except for psychiatric or substance abuse facilities
  • Colleges and universities
  • Outpatient care centers