Can You Be an Ultrasound Tech With a Radiology Degree?

  • A diagnostic medical sonographer (DMS) or ultrasound tech provides diagnostic patient care services utilizing ultrasound and other diagnostic procedures. 
  • Ultrasound technologists usually do not need a bachelor’s degree, although they may obtain one like a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Imaging Sciences(1).  
  • A DMS may also earn a BS in Radiologic Technology specializing in Ultrasound Imaging.   
  • Ultrasound technologists typically must have at least one certification (such as options offered by the ARDMS) in a specialty area, while some states require an ultrasound license(2)

Ultrasound Tech vs. Radiology Tech

Medical imaging permits healthcare providers to collect crucial information about diseases, injuries, and treatments. 

The past few decades have increased the accuracy of medical imaging, including X-rays, computed tomography (CT), and ultrasounds. These developments help doctors select the best therapies and provide patients with peace of mind(3)

Medical professionals like ultrasound technologists and radiologic technologists have the skills and training to operate medical imaging equipment. Their role is to help physicians diagnose and treat patients. 

The term “tech” may refer to either a “technician” or “technologist.” A medical technician is usually an entry-level position. Meanwhile, a technologist position typically requires more knowledge, skills, and experience.

The work of a “technician” and “technologist” can include similar responsibilities. A technologist has a more comprehensive understanding of technologies.

An ultrasound tech and radiology tech have some overlapping roles and responsibilities, although they are two unique occupations in the healthcare industry. 

Here are some of the primary similarities and differences between radiology techs and ultrasound techs, which may help individuals determine the best career option(4)

The roles and responsibilities of both ultrasound and radiologic techs can include:

  • Capturing images
  • Reviewing image quality 
  • Preparing and maintaining medical equipment 
  • Ensuring images capture the correct regions of the body 

Both technicians and technologists also interact with patients. Patients may be unfamiliar with the imaging tests or feel nervous. The techs’ responsibilities include:  

  • Informing patients of procedures
  • Answering patients’ questions
  • Positioning patients for capturing images
  • Reassuring patients
  • Providing clear instructions to patients
  • Positioning patients to capture needed images

Ultrasound and radiologic technologists work in similar environments, including hospitals or medical centers, doctors’ offices, and outpatient care centers. They balance technological tasks and interaction with patients.  

The main difference between radiologic technologists and ultrasound technologists is the technology they use. 

Radiologic technologists usually operate radiation-based equipment to produce medical images. Meanwhile, ultrasound technologists use equipment that generates images through high-frequency sound waves

Both types of equipment require specialized training, such as operating equipment using ultrasound technology.  

Other differences exist, including sonography and radiography pay ranges. 

In 2020, the average salary of radiology technologists in California was over $93,6000, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)(5). Meanwhile, expert sonographers may earn over $102,000 yearly, according to BLS(6)  

13 Reasons to Become a Certified Ultrasound Technician or Technologist

A diagnostic medical sonographer (DMS) or ultrasound tech uses ultrasound and related diagnostic procedures to provide diagnostic patient care services. 

The main potential benefits of becoming an ultrasound tech include(7)

  1. Encounter different situations daily. 

The ancient saying explains, “Variety is the spice of life.” Technicians work with patients who need ultrasound tests for various reasons. A variety of job duties keeps them busy all day. 

  1. Leverage schedule based on the work setting.

Techs can experience a flexible and convenient schedule. Hence, a flexible work schedule allows them to plan their daily life around work, maintaining an excellent work-life balance.  

  1. Work in other settings.  

Examples include physician offices, hospitals, and medical or diagnostic laboratories. Technicians and technologists may also work in academia, such as colleges, universities, or medical schools. 

  1. Complete a degree online.

This option offers more flexibility than on-site schools.

An online degree offers more flexibility than physical schools. Individuals can balance their professional and personal life. They can also avoid commuting costs and parking fees required for on-site education. 

  1. Experience a positive job outlook 

This benefit is related partly to the aging population and longer lifespans.

The demand for ultrasound technicians is high due to diagnostics and interventions in modern medicine. Hence, it may be easier to find a job when necessary. 

  1. Start working soon after completing training programs.

Such programs may be as short as 12 months. An ultrasound tech can join the workforce sooner. After earning a certificate, one can work towards an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

  1. Receive payment for working in other regions.

Various medical communities need ultrasound technicians. One can work on a travel contract as an ultrasound tech. 

  1. Participate in one of the medical field’s safest occupations.

Individuals are using healthcare equipment that uses sound waves to capture images. Meanwhile, other jobs in the medical industry require working with possibly harmful radiation and toxins.  

  1. Specialize in various healthcare disciplines.

Individuals may earn a certificate in various areas, including genitourinary, breast, cardiovascular and vascular, and pediatric. Certifications make individuals more marketable and versatile to hiring companies. 

  1. Earn a good salary with a relatively high yearly average.

The starting salary for ultrasound technicians can be higher than in other medical fields. Individuals may increase their earning potential through education and certifications. 

  1. Have an active job and not sit behind a desk all day.

Technicians are usually active throughout the day. Staying active can help  maintain good health by avoiding a “sedentary lifestyle.”

  1. Maintain a respected career in the medical community.

Technicians can acquire knowledge and skills that many other individuals do not possess. A well-respected position may also improve one’s overall standing in society.

  1. Help people in different situations.

Ultrasound technicians and technologists can help improve people’s lives with various diseases or injuries. Providing proper care patients need can be a rewarding experience. 

Education and Skill Requirements

Ultrasound technologists are not required to possess a bachelor’s degree. However, completing degree programs can create more job opportunities. An example is a bachelor of science (BS) in imaging sciences.  

Such training may benefit individuals when hospitals and doctors’ offices conduct credentialing to weigh the qualifications of licensed job candidates.

However, employers typically require at least one certification in a specialty area, such as one that the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) offers. 

Furthermore, some states require ultrasound technologists to secure a license. 

Ultrasound techs also need(8):

  • Good communication skills (listening and verbal) for interaction with doctors and patients
  • Critical thinking skills to determine the best techniques for diagnostic procedures  

Ultrasound Technician or Technologist: Certification and Degrees

Ultrasound techs can earn various certifications and degrees(9).


No U.S. state requires sonography certifications, although securing one can be a smart move. Ultrasound certification offers an independent and objective measurement of an individual’s knowledge and experience in areas such as:

  • Abdomen
  • Breast 
  • Obstetrics/Gynecology
  • Cardiac or Vascular (cardiovascular system including the heart and blood vessels
  • Musculoskeletal

The BLS reported that most diagnostic imaging workers had earned one or more certifications. Such certifications may include vascular sonography.


Individuals can earn a bachelor’s degree in sonography before or after starting their career in the field. 

For example, high school students may wish to pursue a four-year degree in sonography by completing the required coursework

This option may qualify them for jobs besides entry-level positions when entering the job market.  

Ultrasound techs can also earn an associate’s degree. Then while working, they can transfer several credits to complete a bachelor’s degree in medical sonography

A degree is ideal for individuals who want to work in supervisory or managerial positions. 

Students must complete at least one rotation at a healthcare setting such as a hospital. Rotations are assigned shifts an individual completes at an approved healthcare site(10)

Salary and Job Outlook

Ultrasound technicians often work full-time, while the work hours can vary based on the requirements and settings. Some experts project sonography’s job growth rate to increase by 14% from 2020 to 2030(11)

As of May 2021, the average yearly salary for diagnostic medical sonographers was $80,680(12)

Accredited Ultrasound Technician or Technologist Schools

Individuals may consider selecting a sonography program with accreditation by 

  • Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), 
  • Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS)
  • Regional accrediting agencies

However, if a school like a college or a university is not accredited, one cannot:

  • Apply for federal financial aid
  • Earn professional certification, which several employers require 

What Exactly Is Radiography?

Radiography refers to programs that focus on the use of X-rays or radiologic technology. Several certificate programs are available in limited medical radiography.

Meanwhile, associate’s degrees and post-primary certificates (additional credentials for individuals currently certified) are available under the radiography umbrella:

  • X-ray therapy 
  • X-ray and fluoroscopy
  • X-ray and proton therapy 

Radiologic Technology: Degrees, Roles, and Responsibilities 

Degree Types

Radiology or radiologic technology degrees usually have a major, concentration, or specialization. The most popular majors include radiologic technology or radiography

However, other programs let students major in alternative concentrations or specializations such as(13-16):

  • Ultrasound
  • OB/GYN imaging
  • Pediatric radiology 
  • General sonography

Graduate programs include options like limited scope X-ray. The major individuals select the professional certifications and licensure areas for which they are eligible. They must meet all requirements, including certification exams.  

Individuals may also earn certifications, including those that the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) has approved. 

Roles and Responsibilities

The duties and responsibilities of radiologic technologists include(17):

  • Following physician orders exactly on which body part to X-ray
  • Discussing images with medical staff like radiologists to determine if additional images are required
  • Operating radiographic equipment like CT equipment and X-ray machines
  • Recalling and implementing imaging procedures to create high-quality images

Radiology technicians, like radiologists, can specialize in particular procedures, including ultrasounds(18). Hence, radiology techs with such training may conduct ultrasound tests. 


1. What qualities do successful radiographers have?

A successful radiology technician should be skilled in math and science,  interested in patient care, have good communication skills, and interested in anatomy and physiology. 

  1. Which radiology technologist degree should I select?

When selecting a degree, consider your concentration or specialty. Select an accredited school. Plan your career path by speaking to a program admissions advisor.  

  1. Do I require a degree to get ARRT certification?

Yes, you must meet formal education requirements. They may include an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree. Individuals must meet all prerequisites and have a concentration or specialization, such as ultrasound. 

  1. How long does it take to become a radiology tech?

The process usually takes two years. Most states require radiologic techs to become licensed. In addition, radiologic imaging equipment usually requires at least an associate’s degree

  1. How does majoring in sonography or radiology differ?

Sonography is a sub-field of radiologic technology. However, it is a different modality as it uses ultrasound waves rather than radioactive or radiologic agents to create medical images. 


A diagnostic medical sonographer (DMS) or ultrasound tech utilizes ultrasound and related diagnostic procedures to supply diagnostic patient care services. 

An ultrasound tech and radiology tech have overlapping roles and responsibilities, although they are unique occupations.  

Ultrasound technicians often are only required to obtain an ultrasound certification. However, they may also earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in radiology, with a concentration in DSM(19).  

Ultrasound techs may also earn various DMS certifications, including the ARDMS point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) certification(20)

  1. Bachelor of Science in Medical Imaging (BSMI)
  2. Radiologic Technologist vs. Ultrasound Technologist: Roles and Responsibilities
  3. ibid.
  4. ibid.
  5. Radiologic Technologist Salary Data
  6. 29-2032 Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
  7. 13 Pros and Cons of Being an Ultrasound Technician
  8. Radiologic Technologist vs. Ultrasound Technologist: Roles and Responsibilities
  9. Sonography degree guide
  10. What are clinical rotations in medical school?
  11. Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians
  12. Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2021
  13. Sonography degree guide
  14. Nuclear Medicine Radiologist
  15. Radiologic Technology and MRI
  16. Radiologic Technologist
  17. Radiologic Technologist vs. Ultrasound Technologist: Roles and Responsibilities
  18. Radiology specializations
  19.  Clinical Radiation Sciences, Bachelor of Science (B.S.) with a concentration in diagnostic medical sonography
  20. ARDMS
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