So You Wanna Be a ...

Ultrasound Technician

(aka: Sonographer, Ultrasonographer, Obstetrical Sonographer, Diagnostic Medical Sonographer)

We've all seen the picture of the overjoyed couple tearing up as they see the first grainy pictures of their unborn child on a monitor. On the other end of that ultrasound wand (a "transducer" for you brainiacs) is usually a professionally-trained ultrasound technician, sometimes referred to as a Sonographer, or an Obstetrical Sonographer if they specialize in pregnancy-related ultrasounds. Few professions can boast that they'll allow you to be present for one of the most magical experiences of other peoples' lives on a near-daily basis, but this is one of them. If that sounds emotionally rewarding to you, read on.

Show me schools in my area!

What do Ultrasound Technicians do?

  • Administer diagnostic ultrasounds to pregnant women. Ultrasound Technicians physically position pregnant patients, and operate the transducer that glides over the woman's belly. Technicians will occasionally administer an intravenous line that introduces a "contrast medium" substance that enhances the quality and contrast of the ultrasound images.
  • Verify patient information and medical history. Diagnostic imaging is only one element of the sonograph appointment. The technician reviews a patient's chart for any medical conditions or abnormalities relating to the pregnancy.
  • Evaluate ultrasound images, and and relay results to physicians. Ultrasound Technicians are typically the first set of professional eyes on exam results. They ensure that the images are of sufficient quality, and relay any pertinent information or concerns to a physician.
  • Explain the procedure, and answer patient queries. Pregnant women and/or couples are often nervous during an ultrasound appointment, especially if it's a woman's first pregnancy. A professional ultrasound technician plays an important role in explaining how the procedure works and making patients feel comfortable. Good 'bedside manner' is a must.

How much do Ultrasound Technicians make?

According to 2012 statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor, the median salary for an ultrasound technician is $65,900, with the top 10% taking home more than $91,000. The difference in wages can be a function of geography (higher salaries in metropolitan cities), and may also vary depending on whether the position is in a hospital, private maternity clinic, or doctor's office.

How do I become an Ultrasound Technician?

Education Requirements. Ultrasound Technician is only one sub-speciality of the broader field known as Sonography. In the United States, ultrasound technicians typically need an associate's or bachelor's degree, or a post-secondary certificate. States are also increasingly requiring ultrasound techs to be licensed / certified, largely because many insurance companies will only cover a procedure if it is performed by a certified practitioner. The two major certification bodies in the United States are Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) and the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS).

Find a program in your area. Use the CampusExplorer search tool below to find a program at a school near you or online.

Dream of a career as an Ultrasound Technician?

Find schools and get info on the program that's right for YOU!

Powered by Campus Explorer

Where can I read more about working as an Ultrasound Technician?

Below are Jobstr's hand-selected recommendations from