Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
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Overview
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Produce ultrasonic recordings of internal organs for use by physicians. Includes vascular technologists.
Titles for this career often contain these words
SonographerTechnicianUltrasoundCardiacDiagnosticMedicalTechVascularPolysomnographicTechnologistRegisteredTesterCardiovascularEchoEchocardiographicRDMSSonogramSonographyStaffUltraSoundUltrasonicUltrasonographer
Education
Only 38% of diagnostic medical sonographers have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Education attained by diagnostic medical sonographers
None
High School
Some College
Associate's/Cert.
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with bachelor's degrees
This is near the middle of all careeers' percentages of bachelor's holders.
Employment
Workforce size
Diagnostic medical sonographers, with 72,900 workers, are near the middle of all careers in the number employed.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for diagnostic medical sonographers are expected to grow by 20%, and should have about 5,800 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
Diagnostic medical sonographers are less likely to be automated than 64% of other careers.
Salaries
Context: Median Salary
How do salaries for diagnostic medical sonographers compare to other jobs' salaries?
Distribution: What salary can you expect?
See what most diagnostic medical sonographers earn.
$74K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Gender
Women account for 77% of diagnostic medical sonographers -- that's a larger percentage than 87% of other jobs.
Gender of diagnostic medical sonographers
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For diagnostic medical sonographers, the median men's salary was 10% more the median woman's salary.
Race/Origin
About 16% of diagnostic medical sonographers are minority, and 14% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of diagnostic medical sonographers
White
Black
Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Asian
American Indian
Multiracial
Other
Context: Foreign-born workers (14%)
Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Diagnostic Medical Sonographers per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. Blue indicates low density, with lighter shades moving to yellow indicating higher numbers working in this profession.
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Benefits
How do benefits for this career compare to other jobs?
Context: Employer offers health insurance
Context: Employer offers a pension plan
Context: workers are union members
Worker concerns
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of diagnostic medical sonographers who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Exposed to Disease or Infections (81%)
  • Time Pressure (73%)
  • Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People (57%)
  • Consequence of Error (56%)
  • Frequency of Conflict Situations (38%)
  • Exposed to Contaminants (33%)
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety (33%)
SOURCES:
Salary and diversity
What do diagnostic medical sonographers earn?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides company-reported job titles and corresonding salaries. This data excludes self-employed workers.
Distribution: Salaries for diagnostic medical sonographers (BLS Salary Data)
$74K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$74K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
The American Community Survey (ACS) asks individuals to report their occupation and salary, and as such includes self-employed workers.
Distribution: Salaries for diagnostic medical sonographers (ACS Salary Data)
$60K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$60K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Diagnostic related technologists and technicians: Inflation-adjusted salary trend
This job's median $60KAll jobs' median $45K$60K$44K070809101112131415161718$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, giving us a picture of what employers most typically hire diagnostic medical sonographers.
Employers of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ACS)
Private for-profit (63.0%)
Private not-for-profit (28.0%)
Local government (2.0%)
State government (2.6%)
Federal government (2.5%)
Self-employed incorporated (0.9%)
Self-employed not incorporated (0.8%)
Working without pay (0.2%)
Distribution: Salaries of diagnostic medical sonographers by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses.
$60K$63K$57K$64K$64K$61K$66K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000$100,000$120,000Self-employed incorporatedFederal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of diagnostic medical sonographers by type of employer (BLS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type as reported by BLS based on large employer-focused surveys. We note that smaller employer categories are not included by BLS.
$74K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000$100,000$120,000All

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Salary growth for diagnostic medical sonographers

Is this a job that rewards experience, or is this job most likely a part of a career ladder? The higher a job's experience quotient, the more experience is rewarded with pay increases. Jobs in the green range have the best rewards with experience.

Take a minute to look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working at each age change. Does this seem to be a job for the young or the old, or could it be a career offering steady salary growth for many years?

Salary distribution
$63K$55K$73K$60K$68K$51K$70K$67K$30K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
Number employed
02K4K6K8K10K20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Diagnostic medical sonographers and gender

With 77% women, this occupation has a higher percentage of women than 87% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
77%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Diagnostic medical sonographers
Men (23%)
Women (77%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

The median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 19%. The situation is a little better for diagnostic medical sonographers, with the median salary for men 10% higher than the median salary for women.

$58K$64K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120KWomenMen
Context: Salary Inequity

The chart below shows the salary inequity, the percentage by which the median men's salary is higher than the median women's salary for all but about 20 jobs in which women typically earn more than men. Diagnostic medical sonographers have one of the smaller inequity calculations, with the increase for men's median salary over women's median salary in this job lower than that for 70% of other jobs.

10%0%20%40%60%80%100%

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Race and origin of diagnostic medical sonographers

Here we check out the diversity of origin in this career. There is a smaller percentage of minority diagnostic medical sonographers than for 70% of other careers. The percentage of foreign-born workers in this career is near the middle of all careers.

Race/origin of diagnostic medical sonographers
White (81% )
Black (7% )
Asian (6% )
Other (3% )
Multiracial (2% )
Hispanic (1% )
American Indian (0% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
16%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
14%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for diagnostic medical sonographers by race/origin

For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.

$53K$58K$59K$64K$72K$0$50K$100K$150KHispanicBlackWhiteMultiracialAsian
Distribution: Salaries for diagnostic medical sonographers by nativity
$59K$64K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120KAll native citizensAll foreign-born

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Diagnostic medical sonographers and Part-time/Full-time employment

We've found that somes jobs hava a huge number of part-time workers, and that typically most who are working part-time are doing so because they cannot find full-time work or the job they have cannot provide full-time hours. With 20% part-time workers, this occupation has a higher percentage of part-time workers than 67% of careers.

Context: Part-time workers in the workforce
20%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Why workers are part-time
Full-Time is less than 35 hours a week
Retired/Social Security limit on earnings
Could not find full-time work
Seasonal work
Slack work/business conditions
School/training
Health/medical limitations
Child care problems
Other family/personal obligations
Other reasons
Distribution: Salaries by part-time/full-time status

The salary distributions for full-time and part-time diagnostic medical sonographers is shown following.

$37K$60K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100KPart-time workersFull-time workers
Pathways to this career
Education attained by diagnostic medical sonographers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), diagnostic medical sonographers typically hold a associate's degree.

Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as diagnostic medical sonographers as reported in responses to the American Community Survey.

Details: Education and training recommended for diagnostic medical sonographers

Colleges and universities offer both associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs in sonography and in cardiovascular and vascular technology. One-year certificate programs also are available from colleges and some hospitals.

Employers typically prefer graduates of programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

Sonography, cardiovascular, and vascular education programs usually include courses in anatomy, medical terminology, and applied sciences. Most sonography programs are divided into the specialized fields listed earlier that correspond to the relevant certification exams, such as abdominal sonography or breast sonography. Cardiovascular and vascular programs include coursework in either invasive or noninvasive cardiovascular or vascular technology procedures. In addition to requiring classroom study, most programs include a clinical component in which students earn credit while working under a more experienced technologist in a hospital, a physician’s office, or an imaging laboratory.

High school students who are interested in diagnostic medical sonography, cardiovascular technology, or vascular technology should take courses in anatomy, physiology, physics, and math.

Details: Licensing and certification recommended for diagnostic medical sonographers

Most employers prefer to hire diagnostic imaging workers with professional certification, or they may expect applicants to earn certification shortly after being hired. Many insurance providers and Medicare pay for procedures only if a certified sonographer, technologist, or technician performed the work. Certification is available from the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, Cardiovascular Credentialing International, and American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.

Diagnostic imaging workers can earn certification by graduating from an accredited program, although candidates also may qualify through alternative combinations of education and experience. All candidates must pass an exam. Most of the certifications are for specialties in diagnostic imaging; for example, a sonographer can earn a certification in abdominal sonography. Most diagnostic imaging workers have at least one certification, but many earn multiple certifications.

In addition, many employers prefer to hire candidates who have a basic life support (BLS) certification, which affirms that they are trained to provide CPR.

Few states require diagnostic medical sonographers to be licensed. Typically, professional certification is required for licensure; other requirements vary by state. Contact state medical boards for more information.

Education attained by diagnostic medical sonographers
None
High School
Some College
Associate's/Cert.
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Doctorate
Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for diagnostic medical sonographers? Below we see the distribution of diagnostic medical sonographers salaries based on the education attained.

$54K$57K$59K$61K$68K$64K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120KHigh School (5%)Some College (17%)Associate's/Cert. (39%)Bachelor's Degree (29%)Master's Degree (7%)Professional Degree (2%)

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

The Department of Education recommends the following college degree programs as preparation for this career. You can click the program row to learn more about the program and explore a list of schools that offer the program.

Number of degrees awarded in 2017
Education
Education level of awarded degrees
Associate's degree or certificate
Bachelor's
Graduate
Gender
Gender of graduates
Men
Women
Race/Origin
Race/origin of graduates
White
Minority
International
Switching Careers
The most common next careers for diagnostic medical sonographers

What jobs will most diagnostic medical sonographers hold next year?

The data in this chart comes from person interviews for the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The survey interviews households eight times over a two-year period, allowing us a glimpse into how people move from job to job. You can see more details from the results of the survey in our last tab in this section, and you can read about our methodology in our source descriptions.

Here we see all of the jobs that at least 1% of diagnostic medical sonographers reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list?

Diagnostic related technologists and techniciansMedical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and TechniciansRegistered nursesPhysicians and surgeonsMedical and Health Services ManagersMedical assistants and other healthcare support occupationsHealth Technologists and Technicians
Lateral job transitions for diagnostic medical sonographers

A lateral career transition is a move to a job with similar pay and responsibilities. A move to such a job can offer a change of pace without an increase in stress or a decrease in pay. The following table simply identifies all 7 jobs which were held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as diagnostic medical sonographers as well as 1% of respondents after working as diagnostic medical sonographers. Select a row to investigate the job's full description and determine if it truly offers an opportunity for a lateral transition.

Employed
How many people have this job?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
No degree
Associate's/Cert.
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate/Professional
Gender
Men
Women
Prior and next careers for diagnostic medical sonographers: full listings

What do people typically do before and after they work as diagnostic medical sonographers? Here are the full lists of all jobs that at least 1% of diagnostic medical sonographers surveyed reported as holding a year earlier or later.

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Employed
How many people have this job?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
No degree
Associate's/Cert.
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate/Professional
Gender
Men
Women
Percentage Transitioning
What percentage worked in this job the previous year?
Variation by state
State-by-state employment numbers

Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.

Job density versus job count

Which states hire the most diagnostic medical sonographers? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as diagnostic medical sonographers. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.

BLS vs ACS data

This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.

Choose the metric to review
Jobs per 1000 working
Number of jobs
Use this data source
BLS
Number of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
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0.00.20.40.60.8
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where diagnostic medical sonographers earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio

We use two methods to compare salaries across states:

  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for diagnostic medical sonographers compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for diagnostic medical sonographers.

We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.

BLS vs ACS data

We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information.

Choose the metric to review
Location-adjusted median salary
Median salary
Use this data source
BLS
Location-adjusted median salary for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (BLS)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which diagnostic medical sonographers earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this ratio might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEWIVTNHWAIDMTNDMNILMINYMAORUTWYSDIAINOHPANJCTRICANVCONEMOKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the tabs and education selector to find other careers that might be a good fit for you.

How should the career similarity be computed?

There are a number of ways to measure the similarity of jobs, here are a few we provide:

  • Interests: Also known as a Holland Code - Are you a thinker? A helper? What fits your personality?
  • Environment: Are there hazards? Will you be comfortable? Will it be stressful?
  • Knowledge: What do you need to know the most about?
  • Physical Abilities: Do you need to especially strong or coordinated?
Choose the similarity measure to compare careers
Interests
Environment
Knowledge
Physical Abilities
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