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Ultrasound Technician Schools in California

⚠️ Class schedules and program availability may be affected by COVID-19. Please check school websites for updates.


Diagnostic medical sonography is one of the rapidly growing fields within allied health, and it’s a great career choice for many, particularly in California.  It’s popularity is due in part to the relatively short training period (typically a two-year AAS degree); the availability of jobs, and the high salary available even at entry-level.

Students find it to be a rigorous course study, but it’s an emotionally and financially rewarding field for those who are dedicated, compassionate, and willing to work hard.

If you’re been considering pursuing a career as an ultrasound technician in California, we are here to help you learn about the career and connect with a program near you.  Below you will find all of the sonography schools in California that have been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), which is the most widely recognized accrediting body of schools and programs.

Is Sonography a Good Career Choice in California?

  • Job Growth and Availability. California has the highest employment level in the country for sonography. In 2019 there were over 6,600 working sonographers in the state.
  • Salary. Ultrasound techs in CA earn the 2nd highest salary in the nation at a mean wage of $100,960 in 2019. All 10 of the top paying metro areas in the country are in California.
  • Education. Entry level jobs typically require just a two-year Associate in Science degree. There are 12 accredited sonography programs, with locations across the state.

“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.”

Lynn Mitts
Director of Radiologic Technology and Diagnostic Medical Sonography
Cypress College, California

Connect with Educational Programs near You

CAAHEP Accredited Diagnostic Medical Sonography Programs

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing where to pursue your sonography degree in California is the accreditation of the program.  For a school or program to be accredited means that they have undergone rigorous review from a reputable outside agency.  The purpose of the accreditation is 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).

Accredited Sonography Programs in California for 2020

The following colleges in California all have sonography degree programs that have been accredited by the CAAHEP, as of March, 2020:

Institution NameLocationProgram DirectorSpecialties
CBD College3699 Wilshire Blvd
4th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Alexander Gelfand MS, RDMS, RVTGeneral
Community Regional Medical Center2823 Fresno Street
Fresno, CA 93721
Joy Guthrie PhD, ACS, RDMS, RDCS, RVT Cardiac General Vascular
Consumnes River College8401 Center Parkway
Sacramento, CA 95823
Mohammad Yazdanmehr MD, RDMS, RVTGeneral
Cypress College9200 Valley View Street
Cypress, CA 90630
Lynn Mitts MA, RDMS, RTGeneral
Foothill College12345 El Monte Road
Los Altos Hills, CA 94022
Kathleen Austin BS, RDMSGeneral
Kaiser Permanente School of Allied Health Sciences938 Marina Way South
Richmond, CA 94804
Susan Heppell BS, RDMS
  • General
  • Cardiac
Loma Linda University11234 Anderson St
Room 2455
Loma Linda, CA 92354
  • Cardiac
  • General
  • Vascular
Merced College3600 M Street
Mailstop 37
Merced, CA 95348
Cheryl Zelinksky MM, RT(R), RDMSGeneral
Mt. San Jacinto College28237 La Piedra Road
Menifee, CA 92584
Tracy Francis BA, RDMS, RVTGeneral
Orange Coast College2701 Fairview Road
Costa Mesa, CA 92628
Cynthia Reber-Bonhall MA, RDMS, RVTGeneral
Santa Barbara City College721 Cliff Dr.
Santa Barbara, CA 93109-2394
Debra Von Bernuth BA, RDMS, RVTGeneral
University of California San Diego200 West Arbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92103
Nannette Forsythe BA, RDMS, RVTGeneral

Learn More About California’s 12 Accredited Sonography Schools

CBD College

The medical sonography program at 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.  There are also a variety of externship opportunities and locations to participate in.  The CAAHEP accreditation is for a general course of study, and the successful completion will make students eligible for the ARDMS SP&I exam. 

Application can be found online at https://www.cbd.edu/apply-online/

Program website:  https://www.cbd.edu/programs/diagnostic-medical-sonography/

Community Regional Medical Center

The CRMC in Fresno is one of the state’s few hospital-based sonography programs.  Its CAAHEP accreditation applies to general and advanced cardiac sonography.  They are both 18-month accelerated programs for individuals who already hold a bachelor’s degree or a two-year allied health degree with a license.

Four accredited tracts to choose from:  General Sonography, Adult Cardiac Sonography, Pediatric Cardiac Sonography, and Vascular Sonography. 

Estimated program cost:  The general track is $25,576; the adult cardiac track is $25,317.

Program details and prerequisites found on this downloadable pdf. https://www.communitymedical.org/CMC/media/Corporate/Documents/sonography/2020_DMSP_Program_Details.pdf

Program website:  https://www.communitymedical.org/careers/Sonography-Programs

Cosumnes River College

Cosumnes River College is the only community college in North East California offering an accredited Associate in Science degree in diagnostic medical sonography.  It’s a rigorous course of study over a 6-semester period, which must be completed sequentially with full-time attendance.  In order to apply, the student must have already completed at least an Associate of Science degree at an accredited college, and must have a minimum of 800 hours, paid or volunteer, in patient care.  There are also several courses that must have been taken and passed with a grade of “B” or better.

Application:  Application packets must be dropped off in person at the Sacramento campus.

Accredited educational track:  General Medical Sonography

DMS student handbook:  https://crc.losrios.edu/docs/crc/services/department-pages/diag-med-sono/dms-handbook.pdf

Program website:  https://crc.losrios.edu/academics/programs-and-majors/diagnostic-medical-sonography

Cypress College

Cypress College, which was named the #1 community college in California for 2020 by Niche, offers a CAAHEP accredited sonography program at its Cypress campus.  The minimum educational standard to apply is a high school diploma or GED, and applicant must be 18 by the start of clinical training.  Admittance is limited and selective, and is based on a point-system.

Application period:  All applications must be completed online during the month of February, with materials delivered in-person by March 15th of each year.  More information can be found at http://news.cypresscollege.edu/Documents/careers-site/DMS-Brochure-2019-20.pdf

Program website:  https://www.cypresscollege.edu/academics/divisions-special-programs/health-science/diagnostic-medical-sonography/

Foothill College

Foothill College offers an 18-month Certificate of Achievement in DMS.  Upon successful completion, students may elect to continue in their studies and earn an Associate in Science degree.  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).  There are also a variety of course requirements that must be met prior to application.

Applications accepted October 1st through April 1st of each year.

Program website:  https://foothill.edu/dms/

Preceptorship:  Assigned locations throughout the Sacramento and Central California area

Kaiser Permanente School of Allied Health Sciences

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 AAS degree in any discipline, and have at least 8 hours job shadow in a sonography or ultrasound department.  Graduates are eligible to sit for the ARDMS Sonography Principles and Instrumentation exam.

Academic catalog:  https://kpsahs.edu/sites/default/files/managed_media/catalog/Academic_Catalog_2019.pdf#page=12

Program website:  http://kpsahs.edu/general-sonography

Loma Linda University

Loma Linda has held CAAHEP accreditation since 1985 which makes their sonography program one of the longest running accredited institutions in the state.  In 1991 they added Cardiac sonography and in 2003 brought vascular sonography to their offerings.  They offer numerous programs in medical imaging at the Associate’s, 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, plus clinicals. 

Admission:  12-24 students each year

Prerequisites:  There are course and degree requirements that must be completed within 5 years prior to application.  Learn more at https://alliedhealth.llu.edu/sites/alliedhealth.llu.edu/files/docs/academics/radiation-technology/sono_prereq_2019_.pdf

Program website:  https://alliedhealth.llu.edu/academics/radiation-technology/degree-options-radiation-technology/diagnostic-medical-sonography-dms/bs-diagnostic-medical-sonography

Merced College

The accredited program at Merced prepares students for entry level sonography positions in hospitals, clinical offices, and imaging centers.  It is a full-time, 5-semester Certificate of Achievement program in General Sonography (Abdomen and Ob/Gyn track).  Applicants must have an Associate in Science degree in a related field, or a bachelor’s degree with 500 hours patient care experience.

Application process:  Applications must be delivered in person to the Allied Health Office, room 126 on campus.

Program website:  http://www.mccd.edu/academics/alliedhealth/diag-med/index.html

Mt. San Jacinto College

The Menifee campus of MSJC offers an Associate of Science degree in General DMS.  Admittance to the program is competitive, and is on a point-based system.  The program will require 5 sequential semesters, and attendance is full-time.  Graduates will be prepared to sit for the ARDMS SP&I exam, plus abdomen and small parts, and Ob/Gyn specialty examinations.

Student handbook:  https://www.msjc.edu/programs/documents/DMS.pdf

Program website:  https://www.msjc.edu/nursingandalliedhealth/dms/

Orange Coast College

Since 1992, students at OCC have had the opportunity to earn an AAS in Diagnostic Medical Sonography.  This is a full-time, 5 semester program.  Applicants must complete the course Allied Health A010 at OCC prior to applying to the program.

Admittance:  A maximum of 24 students will be admitted each year.

Program cost:  Approximately $5,200

Program website:  http://www.orangecoastcollege.edu/academics/divisions/consumer_health/allied_health/diagnostic_medical_sonography/Pages/default.aspx

Santa Barbaba City College

SBCC offers an accredited General DMS program, where students will receivew a Certificate of Achievement.  Prerequisites for the program are either a two-year Allied Health education program in a patient-care related field; a Bachelor’s degree in any field; or a MD from outside the U.S.  There are also several course requirements that must be completed with a grade of “C” or better.  The certificate program takes 21 months of full-time attendance to complete and must be taken in sequential order.

Important note:  As of  November 2019, SBCC has put on hold the acceptance of new applications as the wait list has grown to over 60 students.

Program website:  https://catalog.sbcc.edu/academic-departments/medical-imaging-sciences/

University of California San Diego Medical Center

The UCSD Medical Center offers a 12-month certificate program in General Sonography and limited Vascular Sonography.  It is a rigorous program with a very selective application process.  There is a heavy focus on clinical training, and students will do clinical rotations 32 hours per week, plus one 8-hour day of class room instruction.  Clinical rotation sites will be 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 prereq courses.  Bachelor’s degree applications must provide documentation of 80 hours direct patient contact in a hospital or clinic.  Volunteer hours are acceptable. 

Tuition:  $13,000 plus fees

Admittance:  6 students are accepted each year

Program website:  http://radtech.ucsd.edu/Rad2/Ultra.htm

Ultrasound Tech Certification Requirements in California

Is Certification or Licensure Required in CA?

The state of California does not require that ultrasound technicians be licensed or certified.  However, most employers do require it, and insurance regulations and making it more difficult for employers to hire sonographers who are not certified.

To become professionally certified in a field means that a pre-defined level of education and expertise has been shown to an independent evaluating agency. Quite often a certain level of education is required by a pre-accredited program. At the end of that educational period, a test given by the accrediting agency must be passed. Continuing education is also required in order to maintain the certification.

Earn Your ARDMS Certification

For sonographers, professional certification comes primarily from the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) (though there are others, depending on specialty and other factors).  The only way to earn certification is by taking and passing their exam. There are many locations throughout California to take the exam, and the taking of the exam is quite often coordinated with the school.  You can find testing locations on the PearsonVue website.

The most direct way to qualify to sit for the exam is to graduate from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).  If that does not apply to you, review the scenarios in the ARDMS prerequisite guide to see if you can meet any of them.  Request information from several ultrasound technician schools in California, and do the research to make sure that they meet the certification requirements you’re looking for.

Additional Certification Information

Certification overview
About the ARDMS

Scholarships and Financial Aid

How to pay for college is one of the top concerns for most 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.

To help you navigate this process and learn what pitfalls to avoid, we have put together a series of articles around paying for college. You’ll also find information on how to apply for the $1,000 bi-annual scholarship that we at Ultrasound Schools Info offer to sonography students entering or attending an accredited ultrasound tech program!

If you’re an undocumented student wishing to attend a sonography program in California, it’s especially important to understand your options.  There is help available.  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.  There are also numerous scholarships that you can apply for.

A Few Scholarships to Apply for in California

ScholarshipAward AmountEligibility RequirementsHow to Apply
Allied Healthcare Scholarship ProgramUp to $8,000To be eligible for the Allied Healthcare Scholarship, the applicant must be currently accepted or enrolled an allied health program, which includes diagnostic medical sonography.https://eapp.oshpd.ca.gov/funding/
Ultrasound Schools Info$1,000Semi-annual, non-renewable $1,000 scholarship awarded to an aspiring sonographer currently enrolled in a CAAHEP accredited diagnostic medical sonography program, or a high school student who has been accepted to a programUltrasound Schools Info
Attn: Scholarship Committee
PO Box 3026
Bellingham, WA 98227
eQuality Scholarship$6,000eQuality Scholarship Collaborative awards scholarships to honor and encourage California students for their service to the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community. Applicants for all scholarships must have demonstrated service to the LGBT+ community.Scholarship Committee
P.O. Box 191311
San Francisco, CA 94119-1311
California Student Aid CommissionVariesVariety 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?

Medical sonographers in California earn a mean annual salary of $92,660.  This is considerably higher than the national average of $72,510.  In fact, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, California is the 3rd highest paying state in the country, and has 9 of the top 10 highest paying metropolitan areas in the nation.

Your wages are determined by a variety of factors.  The area of the state in which you live, the type of company you work for, and your educational background and certification all make a difference.

General medical and surgical facilities pay the highest salaries, and often offer better benefit packages.  Or you might prefer the atmosphere of a smaller facility, or even to serve as a traveling sonographer.

Job Growth and Salary for Ultrasound Technologist in California

  • Ultrasound techs in California earn an average of $32.25 an hour.
  • California is the 3rd highest paying state in the country, and is #1 for job concentration.
  • There were over 5,800 working sonographers in CA in 2016. Jobs are expected to increase by 26%
  • 9 of the 10 highest paying metropolitan areas in the country for sonographers are all in California

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Career OneStop

Which Areas of California are the Best for Ultrasound Techs?

Where you live affects how much you earn. The table below shows the median annual salaries for ultrasound technicians by county in 2019.  You’ll find that most areas of California offer extremely competitive salaries.

County2019 Median Salary
Los Angeles$88,384
San Diego$97,244
San Francisco Bay Area$120,721
Sonoma County$96,481

Source: California Employment Development Department

Below we break down the expected job growth by county, from 2016 to 2026. Further information can be found by visiting the website for California’s Labor Market.

“California employs more Diagnostic Medical Sonographers than any other state.”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
CountyEstimated Percent Job Growth
Sacramento Metro Area29.5%
East Bay Area42.9%
Shasta County33.3%
San Diego County20.8%
Ventura County28.6%

Ultrasound Technician Schools in San Diego, CA

If you’re interested in attending a Sonography school in the San Diego area, you’ll find many institutions from which to obtain your education, including CAAHEP accredited UC San Diego. San Diego also has high employment opportunities in the medical imaging field, as well as median salaries that significantly outpace the state and national average.

In your spare time, you’ll have many world-class attractions to choose from, from the San Diego Zoo to the largest cultural complex west of the Mississippi, Balboa Park. There are an unlimited number of activities to pursue outdoors or in, all in the beautiful surroundings that San Diego County has to offer.

Limited English Proficient (LEP) Individuals

According to the US Department of Education, limited English proficient (LEP) learners were the fastest growing population in the country. It is estimated that 50% of adults in Los Angeles cannot read or write English. The healthcare industry is concerned that Californians as a result may not be receiving optimal health care. Bilingual or multilingual health care professionals are in increasing demand, and are therefore seeing higher employment opportunities.

California employs more ultrasound technicians than any other state in the nation. It is also the 3rd highest paying state in terms of annual wages for ultrasound techs, with a median annual salary of over $92,00 per year as of May, 2018.

Specialties Available to Sonographers

Ultrasound is most commonly understood as a way of monitoring the health of a growing fetus. However, advances in medicine have resulted in the increasing use of ultrasound and other medical imaging modalities to diagnose and treat disease. Sonographers are able to work in high risk ob/gyn offices, cancer centers, pediatric ICU units, and mobile clinics, to name a few.

The ARDMS’ Sonography, Principles and Instrumentation (SPI) Exam can be taken for the following specialties:

  • Abdomen
  • Breast
  • Fetal Echocardiography
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Pediatric Sonography

For a full list visit our ARDMS certification page

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 even accredited by the American College of Radiology for ultrasound or breast ultrasound modalities.

With Hollywood studios and the Walk of Fame, over 800 museums and galleries and countless stage performance groups, it is no surprise Los Angeles is known as the “Entertainment Capital of the World.” But did you know L.A. is also home to a plethora of hospitals and medical facilities?

Ultrasonographers are an important member of the healthcare team, and Los Angeles County has one of the highest employment levels for sonographers or ultrasound technicians in the country. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in May 2018 there were 2,210 diagnostic medical sonographers working in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim metropolitan area earning a median of $88,320 per year. And as reported by the State of California Employment Development Departmentemployment for sonographers in Los Angeles County is projected to increase by 25% between 2016 and 2026.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will it take to complete a sonography training program in California?

How long you go to school depends on your career goals. To work in an entry level position, a two-year Associate’s Degree is typically enough. If you’re interested in further specialization or a supervisory roll, then pursuing a bachelor’s degree would make more sense. Full time course work in a bachelor’s program will typically take four years. Visit our degree center to learn more about your options.

How do I get started?

We’ll walk you through all of the steps, starting when you’re still in high school or before you’ve started any formal post-education program, all the way through finding a job and advancing in your career. Get Started Now.

How do I know if a career in sonography is right for me?

The course study and internship process is rigorous, and it’s smart to spend some time considering whether this is the right move for you.

In order to be successful in the field, you’ll need more than just technical knowledge. Personal skills, such as having a good “bedside manner” are equally important.  Here’s how you’ll know if you’ve got what it takes.

What other jobs can I get in medical imaging?

There are many careers available within medical imaging and allied health. Whether you want to work in radiology or cardiovascular medicine to becoming a phlebotomist, there are almost endless opportunities to pursue. We’ll introduce you to many of them here.

Additional statistical information provided by: