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Diagnostic Medical Sonographers



Schools and Education

What's needed to become a sonographer

  • Most complete an accredited training program in diagnostic medical sonography or cardiovascular technology.
  • The associate degree is the most common although a bachelor's degree can improve employment opportunities.
  • One-year certificate programs are available primarily for other health professionals.
  • Programs are offered by community colleges four-year schools and hospitals.

What you study:

Basic areas of focus include:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Medical terminology
  • Patient care and assessment
  • Patient positioning
  • Use of the Equipment
  • Sonography techniques
  • Image interpretation

What courses you'll take

Below are examples of courses that you'll typically take as a sonography / ultrasound technician student.

Ultrasound InstrumentationBasic use of ultrasound equipment including scanner parts and functions displays and print copies of results. Physics behind equipment operation including the principles of pulse-echo ultrasound systems and acoustic waves in human tissue.Develop fundamental skills for use of equipment. Build knowledge of scientific principles that are important to learning about equipment operation and limitations.
Patient CareProper role of sonographer as part of larger medical team giving care to a patient. How to assist and cooperate with team members.Teach how to provide the best possible patient care through medical teamwork.
Critical Diagnostic ThinkingExamination analysis and critique of ultrasound images. Lab time is usually included for teaching skills.Develop understanding of images to help guide procedures and discussions with colleagues and patients.
Sonographic Sectional AnatomySectional anatomy of the body for both men and women. Review of anatomical relationships of organs and body planes and quadrants.Provide a fundamental understanding of human anatomy needed to conduct a wide range of ultrasound exams.
GYN SonographyBasics of female pelvic anatomy and physiology. Also basics of clinical findings related pathologic conditions and imaging techniques to apply to each condition.Prepare students for gynecological sonography examinations.
Vascular UltrasoundMethods for vascular scanning Doppler analysis and common vascular conditions. How to perform peripheral artery and venous scans (legs and arms) and scans of the carotid arteries.Prepare students to conduct vascular ultrasound procedures.
Abdominal UltrasoundAbdominal anatomy and common abnormalities in this region of the body. Procedures and techniques for scanning the abdomen and how different conditions present themselves in images.Ready students for conducting abdominal ultrasound examinations.
Medical and Legal EthicsPatient rights ethics and related legal doctrinesFoundation knowledge for guiding sonographer relationships with their patients.

Video Overview

Quickly highlights the work of sonographers or ultrasound techs. Created for the US Department of Labor.

Certifications Credentialing and Licensing

Most states do not yet require licensing although many employers only hire credentialed practitioners. The most widely accepted credentials are earned by exam through the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS). Prospective candidates can qualify using one of several combinations of education and experience. Those new to the field generally must have graduated from an accredited training program. Upon passing the RDMS exams candidates are granted the credential of Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer or RDMS.

Details of a credentialing curriculum vary based on areas of specialization. Credentials major areas of specialization and related sub-specialties are as follows:

1. Credential Earned: Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Exam: Sonography Principles & Instrumentation Examination


  • Abdomen
  • Breast
  • Fetal Echocardiography
  • Neurosonology

2. Credential Earned: Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer

Exam: Sonography Principles & Instrumentation Examination


  • Adult Echocardiography
  • Fetal Echocardiography
  • Pediatric Echocardiography

3. Credential Earned: Registered Vascular Technologist

Exam: Sonography Principles & Instrumentation Examination

Sub-Specialties: Vascular Technology

4. Credential Earned: Registered in Muscoluskeletal

Exam: Musculoskeletal Sonography Examination

5. Credential Earned: Registered Physician in Vascular Interpretation

Exam: Physician's Vascular Interpretation Examination

Upon completion of a quality ultrasound sonography school program student should be eligible to sit for the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) national registry examinations. Review the program information to make sure that this is a part of what the school prepares you for.

For more information on state licensing requirements see the U.S. Department of Labor's CareerOneStop site.

Job Flexibility

Full-time versus part-time:

Most sonographers work full time and may have some extended shifts due to heavy caseloads. Many facilities require night weekend and on-call availability to accommodate urgent imaging needs.

Work location:

Hospitals employ most sonographers on site. Other work settings include private medical offices outpatient clinics and imaging centers.

Recommended Websites

  • U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook ? The site gives a solid overview of the diagnostic medical sonography profession. It is a good starting point to learn about job responsibilities and available specializations. For greater detail also consult sites that are directly involved in the field.
  • Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography ? The SDMS is a nonprofit professional association for the ultrasound field. The site has an extensive career section that explains how to select a program and profiles a typical career path. It also details the several educational pathways available to students with various backgrounds.
  • American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography ? The ARDMS is the organization that grants credentials to the profession. The site has several detailed and well-organized sections that explain the credentialing process.
  • Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs ? CAAHEP accredits programs in the allied health fields including diagnostic medical sonography. The site features a search for accredited programs so that you can easily locate schools by state concentration and type of degree.
  • American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine ? The AIUM is a membership organization of diverse health professionals who work with ultrasound technology. The site includes a resources section with downloadable presentations on diagnostic medical sonography as a career choice.

Salaries by City

See typical salaries and ranges for this career below Shift click to sort by more than one column — for example first shift-click on state and then shift-click on salary to find best and worst salaries in each state.

StateCity / RegionTypical SalarySalary RangeJob Count% of All Jobs
AKAnchorage$76580$64K – $94KN/AN/A
ALBirmingham – Hoover$54390$35K – $72K2900.06%
ALDothan$50440$40K – $72K600.11%
ALFlorence – Muscle Shoals$38060$30K – $51K500.09%
ALHuntsville$51320$36K – $71K900.04%
ALMobile$43810$17K – $69K2000.12%
ALMontgomery$52260$35K – $68K700.05%
ALTuscaloosa$55490$40K – $87K500.05%
ARFayetteville – Springdale – Rogers$70160$48K – $92K500.02%
ARFort Smith$54160$37K – $72K600.05%
ARJonesboro$66040$52K – $79K400.07%
ARLittle Rock – North Little Rock – Conway$59220$41K – $75K1300.04%
AZPhoenix – Mesa – Glendale$79560$43K – $102K8800.05%
AZTucson$67310$49K – $88K1400.04%
CABakersfield – Delano$73820$46K – $98K1100.04%
CAFresno$84040$58K – $128K1000.03%
CALos Angeles – Long Beach – Glendale (Metro Area)$75020$47K – $108K11800.03%
CAModesto$84450$65K – $107K1100.07%
CAOakland – Fremont – Hayward (Metro Area)$107110$66K – $140K3400.03%
CAOxnard – Thousand Oaks – Ventura$64530$33K – $93K900.03%
CARedding$78920$54K – $113K300.06%
CARiverside – San Bernardino – Ontario$73010$50K – $97K4300.04%
CASacramento – Arden – Arcade – Roseville$84980$64K – $112K3300.04%
CASalinas$93240$76K – $120K900.06%
CASan Diego – Carlsbad – San Marcos$85430$63K – $111K6400.05%
CASan Francisco – San Mateo – Redwood City (Metro Area)$104640$71K – $142K3200.03%
CASan Jose – Sunnyvale – Santa Clara$108810$86K – $134K2700.03%
CASan Luis Obispo – Paso Robles$87700$66K – $127K300.03%
CASanta Ana – Anaheim – Irvine (Metro Area)$77780$63K – $99K5300.04%
CASanta Rosa – Petaluma$95680$79K – $117K400.02%
CAStockton$83640$65K – $99K700.04%
CAVallejo – Fairfield$100370$34K – $124K700.06%
CAVisalia – Porterville$82790$43K – $111K400.03%
COBoulder$72640$55K – $92K500.03%
COColorado Springs$76280$60K – $94K1200.05%
CODenver – Aurora – Broomfield$78460$63K – $101K4000.03%
COFort Collins – Loveland$73810$60K – $92K700.05%
COPueblo$48410$33K – $76K500.10%
CTBridgeport – Stamford – Norwalk$74670$61K – $98K1900.05%
CTDanbury$76610$63K – $95K400.06%
CTHartford – West Hartford – East Hartford$75740$55K – $103K2100.04%
CTNew Haven$77190$61K – $94K2600.10%
CTNorwich – New London$96780$60K – $134K500.04%
CTWaterbury$80650$63K – $104K400.07%
DCWashington – Arlington – Alexandria (Metro Area)$74420$48K – $95K6800.03%
DEWilmington (Metro Area)$68340$53K – $88K1300.04%
FLCape Coral – Fort Myers$68270$54K – $78K1200.06%
FLCrestview – Fort Walton Beach – Destin$44830$39K – $59K400.05%
FLDeltona – Daytona Beach – Ormond Beach$59630$46K – $72K1100.07%
FLFort Lauderdale – Pompano Beach – Deerfield Beach (Metro Area)$65500$48K – $77K5000.07%
FLGainesville$52070$41K – $72K900.08%
FLJacksonville$59100$47K – $73K2600.05%
FLLakeland – Winter Haven$55000$41K – $72K1400.07%
FLMiami – Miami Beach – Kendall (Metro Area)$59930$35K – $85K6500.06%
FLNaples – Marco Island$63500$40K – $87K500.05%
FLNorth Port – Bradenton – Sarasota$61790$50K – $75K1400.06%
FLOcala$45700$40K – $62K600.06%
FLOrlando – Kissimmee – Sanford$58610$43K – $76K6400.06%
FLPalm Bay – Melbourne – Titusville$63220$51K – $76K1400.07%
FLPensacola – Ferry Pass – Brent$47170$40K – $70K1100.07%
FLPort St. Lucie$54920$44K – $70K400.03%
FLPunta Gorda$57990$27K – $76K400.09%
FLTallahassee$56960$27K – $73K700.04%
FLTampa – St. Petersburg – Clearwater$59160$27K – $73K8600.08%
FLWest Palm Beach – Boca Raton – Boynton Beach (Metro Area)$56810$44K – $73K4600.09%
GAAthens – Clarke County$60730$48K – $83K400.05%
GAAtlanta – Sandy Springs – Marietta$62410$48K – $76K6700.03%
GAAugusta – Richmond County$56290$44K – $75K1300.07%
GAColumbus$61750$48K – $74K500.05%
GAGainesville$59430$47K – $87K500.06%
GASavannah$59400$45K – $86K800.05%
HIHonolulu$81290$53K – $95K900.02%
IACedar Rapids$57450$50K – $72K700.05%
IADavenport – Moline – Rock Island$49010$40K – $70K2000.11%
IADes Moines – West Des Moines$60760$47K – $74K2500.08%
IADubuque$59410$49K – $74KN/AN/A
IAIowa City$58560$46K – $75K600.07%
IASioux City$57110$47K – $71KN/AN/A
IDBoise City – Nampa$60940$45K – $104K2000.08%
ILChampaign – Urbana$63850$41K – $84KN/AN/A
ILChicago – Joliet – Naperville (Metro Area)$71760$50K – $92K12400.03%
ILDanville$70740$51K – $92KN/AN/A
ILLake County – Kenosha County (Metro Area)$74990$51K – $94K600.02%
ILPeoria$52700$34K – $84K1700.09%
ILRockford$74950$37K – $112K700.05%
ILSpringfield$67760$49K – $88K500.05%
INElkhart – Goshen$60140$45K – $74K300.03%
INEvansville$54700$43K – $68K60900.05%
INGary (Metro Area)$71660$52K – $91K1100.04%
INIndianapolis – Carmel$65760$51K – $81K2600.03%
INSouth Bend – Mishawaka$58780$47K – $75K700.05%
KSTopeka$65230$49K – $86K400.03%
KSWichita$61840$41K – $86K2000.07%
KYBowling Green$63460$44K – $84K400.06%
KYLexington – Fayette$59850$40K – $75K1100.04%
KYLouisville – Jefferson County$55480$40K – $74K2900.05%
LAAlexandria$52950$35K – $72K600.10%
LABaton Rouge$54360$42K – $70K1900.05%
LAHouma – Bayou Cane – Thibodaux$60250$48K – $78K500.05%
LALafayette$57710$41K – $90KN/AN/A
LALake Charles$53400$39K – $68K300.04%
LAMonroe$58340$44K – $90K600.08%
LANew Orleans – Metairie – Kenner$57180$41K – $74K2400.05%
LAShreveport – Bossier City$57280$42K – $73K500.03%
MABarnstable Town$82020$63K – $103K500.05%
MABoston – Cambridge – Quincy (Metro Area)$80710$47K – $104K5400.03%
MABrockton – Bridgewater – Easton (Metro Area)$80900$63K – $97K2700.31%
MAFramingham (Metro Area)$81410

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