The field of diagnostic medical sonography is growing rapidly, particularly in California, which employs more sonographers than any other state. If you’ve been considering pursuing a career as an ultrasound technician, we’ve provided the information necessary to research the field and learn what a sonographer does, what the requirements are, and how to choose a program.
How to Become an Ultrasound Tech in California
- Choose an accredited ultrasound program. It’s important to research the accreditation of both the school and the program you’re considering applying to. If possible, select one that has been accredited by the CAAHEP. This will ensure that the program meets or exceeds industry standards. California has 13 schools across the state that have received this recognition.
- Get your degree. You will need to have a minimum of an Associate of Science degree in DMS. There are accelerated certificate programs for those who meet the educational or experiential prerequisites, and some schools offer Bachelor’s degrees.
- Receive your credentials. Most employers will require that you have your RDMS credential. Graduating from a program that has been accredited by the CAAHEP will qualify you to sit for their exams.
Connect with Educational Programs near You
Why is it Important to Choose a CAAHEP Accredited Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program?
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing where to pursue your sonography degree in California is the accreditation of the program. A school or program becomes accredited when they have undergone rigorous review from a reputable outside agency in order to ensure that the quality of education meets identified standards.
For the field of sonography and medical imaging, the primary and most widely recognized accreditation agency is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
If you’re currently enrolled in or have been accepted to a CAAHEP accredited program, you’re also eligible to apply for the UltrasoundSchoolsInfo $1,000 scholarship. Click here to learn more.
CAAHEP Accredited Sonography Programs in California for 2024
The following colleges in California all offer sonography certificate or degree programs that have been accredited by the CAAHEP, as of August, 2023:
3699 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90010
|CBD College offers a flexible course of study which can be completed in 22 months. The Associate Degree program is one of the few to offer both day and evening classes, as well as some on-line courses.||Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED. Certain prerequisites courses may be required.||The online application can be found here.|
|Community Regional Medical Center
2823 Fresno Street
Fresno, CA 93721
|The CRMC in Fresno is one of the state’s few hospital-based sonography programs. There are four accredited tracts to choose from: General Sonography, Adult Cardiac Sonography, Pediatric Cardiac Sonography, and Vascular Sonography||Applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree or an Associate Degree in a related field. Click here for the general program’s details and prerequisites||Download the application packet.|
|Cosumnes River College
8401 Center Parkway
Sacramento, CA 95823
|Cosumnes River College is the only community college in North East California offering an accredited Associate’s degree in diagnostic medical sonography.
It’s a rigorous course of study over a six-semester period, which must be completed sequentially with full-time attendance.
|Applicants must have an Associate’s degree at an accredited college, and must have a minimum of eight hundred hours, paid or volunteer, in patient care. The full list of prerequisites can be found here.||Click here for the student handbook.|
9200 Valley View Street
Cypress, CA 90630
|Cypress College, which was named the #1 community college in California for 2020 by Niche, offers a CAAHEP accredited sonography program on campus.||The minimum educational standard to apply is a high school diploma or GED, and the applicant must be 18 by the start of their clinical training.
Admittance is limited and selective, and is based on a point-system.
|All applications must be completed online during the month of February, with materials delivered in-person by March 15th of each year. The DMS Brochure provides more information on applying.|
12345 El Monte Road
Los Altos Hills, CA 94022
|Foothill College offers an eighteen-month Certificate of Achievement in DMS program, as well as an Associate’s degree program in DMS.
|Applicants must have a minimum of direct patient care experience. This can be met through the completion of a two-year allied health degree program, or through clinical experiences taught in an accredited institution (this qualifier will be approved on an individual basis).
|Application information can be found here.|
|Gurnick Academy of Medical Arts-San Mateo
2121 S El Camino Real
San Mateo, CA 94403
|A.O.S. in Ultrasound Technology Program||
Applicants are deemed qualified on a point system. The highest-ranked (above a minimum) will be offered seats in the program. The point system is used to evaluate each applicant, showing the maximum achievable score.
|Application information can be found here.|
|Kaiser Permanente School of Allied Health Sciences
938 Marina Way South
Richmond, CA 94804
|The medical sonography program at Kaiser Permanente is a Bachelor’s of Science program in both general and cardiac concentrations. It requires 18 months of full-time sequential study.||Applicants must have already completed an Associate’s degree in any discipline, and have at least 8 hours job shadow in a sonography or ultrasound department.
|Click here to see the academic catalog to learn more.|
|Loma Linda University
11234 Anderson St
Loma Linda, CA 92354
Loma Linda offer numerous programs in medical imaging at the Associate, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degree levels. The Bachelor’s in DMS is a full-time, 27 month program, which includes both classroom and online learning, as well as clinicals. Concentration tracks are available in General, Cardiac, and Vascular sonography.
|They admit 12-24 students each year once they have met the course and degree prerequisites that must be completed within five years of when they submit their application.||Click here to learn more about prerequisites and apply.|
3600 M Street
Merced, CA 95348
It is a full-time, five-semester Certificate of Achievement program in General Sonography (Abdomen and Ob/Gyn track).
|Applicants must have an Associate’s in Science degree in a related field, or a Bachelor’s degree with five hundred hours of patient care experience.||Click here for more information on prerequisites and the application process.|
|Mt. San Jacinto College
28237 La Piedra Road
Menifee, CA 92584
|MSJC’s campus in Menifee offers an Associate’s in Science degree in General DMS.||Admittance to the program is competitive, and is determined by a point-based system. The program will require 5 sequential semesters and full-time attendance.||The DMS brochure provides more information on prerequisites, tuition and fees, admission, and more.|
|Orange Coast College
2701 Fairview Road
Costa Mesa, CA 92628
|Since 1992, students at OCC have had the opportunity to earn an Associate’s degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography, which is a full-time, 5 semester program.
|Applicants must complete the Allied Health A010 course at OCC prior to applying to the program.||Click here to see the DMS catalog and an overview of the program.|
|Sacramento Ultrasound Institute
2233 Watt Ave
Sacramento, CA 95825
|This is a 72-week diploma program, with specialties offered in either Abdominal-Extended or ObGyn Sonography.
|Applicants must have an Associate Degree or higher in any discipline, plus certain required prerequisite courses.||Begin the application process here.|
|University of California San Diego Medical Center
200 West Arbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92103
|The UCSD Medical Center offers a 12-month certificate program in General Sonography and limited Vascular Sonography. There is a heavy focus on clinical training, and students will do clinical rotations 32 hours each week, plus one 8-hour day of class room instruction. Clinical rotation sites will take place in the San Diego area.||Prerequisites include either the successful completion of a Radiologic Technology Program and passing the registry exam, or a Bachelor’s degree in any area with certain prerequisite courses.
Bachelor’s degree applicants must provide documentation of 80 hours of direct patient contact in a hospital or clinic. Volunteer hours are also acceptable.
|Click here to see the DMS catalog and an overview of the program.|
|* This information is obtained from a number of sources, is provided without charge, and is believed to be accurate. Please contact us with updates.|
“The advice I would give to aspiring medical imaging students is that you have to have excellent communication skills to work in the health field.”
Director of Radiologic Technology and Diagnostic Medical Sonography
Cypress College, California
Scholarships and Financial Aid
Paying for college is one of the top concerns for many students and their families. Colleges offer merit and needs-based scholarships, as do many private companies and institutions. Financial aid and student loans are available for those who qualify.
If you’re an undocumented student wishing to attend a sonography program in California, it’s especially important to understand your options and know that help is available. You can learn more about the financial assistance available to you from the state of California through the California Dream Act, as well as from many colleges.
Below are some available scholarships in California:
|Scholarship||Award Amount||Eligibility Requirements||How to Apply|
|Ultrasound Schools Info||$1,000||Non-renewable scholarship awarded to an aspiring sonographer currently attending or enrolled in a CAAHEP accredited diagnostic medical sonography program.||Ultrasound Schools Info
Attn: Scholarship Committee
PO Box 3026
Bellingham, WA 98227
|Allied Healthcare Scholarship Program||Up to $8,000||Applicant must be currently accepted or enrolled an allied health program (ex. DMS)||Click here for more information.|
|eQuality Scholarship||$6,000||eQuality Scholarship Collaborative awards scholarships to honor and encourage California students for their service to the LGBTQ+ community.||Scholarship Committee
P.O. Box 191311
San Francisco, CA 94119-1311
|California Student Aid Commission||Varies||Variety of scholarships, grants, and financial aid provided by the State of California to eligible students.||Attn: Program Administration and Services Division
P.O. Box 419027
Rancho Cordova, CA 95741-9027
(888) CA GRANT
How Much do Ultrasound Techs Make in California?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), California is the highest paying state in the country, and has 9 of the top 10 highest paying metropolitan areas in the nation. Sonographers in California earn a mean annual salary of $114,480, or $55.04 an hour as of May, 2022. Conditions in your area may vary.
Outpatient care centers pay the highest salaries, while general medical and surgical facilities often offer better benefits packages. Traveling sonographers earn different rates and benefits than those working permanently in one facility. The varying specialties within sonography also open up different avenues for career growth and increasing one’s salary.
Which Areas of California are the Best for Ultrasound Techs?
Where you live affects how much you earn. The table below shows the mean annual salaries for ultrasound technicians in different areas of the state. You’ll find that most areas of California offer extremely competitive salaries.
|Metropolitan Area||2022 Mean Salary|
|San Jose-Santa Clara||$139,090|
Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Ultrasound Tech Certification Requirements in California
Is Certification or Licensure Required?
The state of California does not require that ultrasound technicians become licensed or certified, though your prospective employer likely will.
For sonographers, professional certification comes primarily from the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS). The only way to earn certification is by taking and passing their exam. Graduates of a program accredited by the CAAHEP will likely take the exam in their senior year or shortly after graduation. You can learn more about their prerequisites by visiting the ARDMS website.
Additional Certification Information
Is Sonography a Good Career Choice in California?
Yes, there are many different factors that make becoming an ultrasound technician in California a great choice:
- Job Growth and Availability: California has the highest employment level in the country for sonography. In 2021 there were over 7,000 working sonographers in the state, and job openings are predicted to grow by 21% by 2030.
- Salary: Ultrasound techs in CA earn the highest salary in the nation. In May of 2022, the mean annual wage for sonographers was $114,480 (conditions in your area may vary). In addition, the top 10 paying metro areas in the country are all in California.
- Education: Entry level jobs typically require just a two-year Associate of Science (AAS) degree. There are thirteen accredited sonography programs located across the state.
Ultrasound Technician Schools in Los Angeles, CA
There are several ultrasound technician schools in the Los Angeles area, and a number are accredited by the CAAHEP. Completing a sonography program in this California locale allows you the opportunity to complete clinical externship hours at one of the many facilities in and around Los Angeles.
At least 19 of the hospitals and centers in L.A. are accredited by the American College of Radiology for ultrasound or breast ultrasound modalities.
Sonographers are an important part of the healthcare team, and Los Angeles County has one of the highest employment levels for ultrasound technicians in the country. The State of California Employment Development Department reports that employment for sonographers in Los Angeles County is projected to increase by 25.2% by 2026.