Is Ultrasound a Good Career?

Many ultrasound technologists find the job rewarding and emotionally satisfying.
i Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images

Everybody's idea of an ideal job is a little different, but there are a few considerations most people would agree on. The pay should be generous, the work should be interesting and not too stressful, and jobs should be plentiful. Even better is if a job requires little time and money to get started. Consider ultrasound technology, which uses high-frequency sound waves to see tissues inside the body. Careers in ultrasound score highly by any measure, making them an appealing option.

Modest Training Requirements

It's possible to become an ultrasound technologist by learning on the job, but usually new sonographers take a two-year training program from an accredited technical or community college. Training covers basic science courses, in addition to ultrasound technology. Most programs also include hands-on practical experience in a clinical setting. A few states require licensing, but most will let you practice immediately. Certification is available if you want it, and it can help you earn more and get promoted faster.

High Demand

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that demand for ultrasound technologists will grow by 44 percent between 2010 and 2020, more than triple the average for all occupations. Even in the booming health care industry, that's exceptionally high. That's largely because ultrasound has spread to doctors' offices, walk-in clinics and other smaller locations, increasing the need for skilled technologists. It's also a preferred diagnostic option when it's available, because it's non-intrusive, painless and uses no radiation.

Job Satisfaction

In its 2013 job rankings, U.S. News rates sonography as a relatively low-stress career, although the workload can sometimes be heavy and you might have to be on-call or work strange shifts. The work also provides intellectual stimulation, variety and interaction with patients. Your work performing ultrasound tests can reassure expectant mothers that their babies are healthy and help to diagnose a wide range of injuries and illnesses.


Ultrasound technology is an ideal career choice for people who bore easily. Many sonographers work in obstetrics, but on any given day you might also look for gallstones, identify a knee injury or find a life-threatening blockage in a vein. For women whose mammograms have shown a suspicious mass, ultrasound is one of the best ways to catch and contradict false positives. If you want to specialize, you can become certified in neurological or cardiac ultrasound, musculoskeletal ultrasound, vascular ultrasound or breast ultrasound.

The Pay

Figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that ultrasound technologist is one of the best-paid jobs you can get with an associate degree. In May 2011, the bureau reported that the median income of sonographers was $65,210 per year, and the top 10 percent earned $90,640 or more.

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