12 Best Ultrasound Technician Schools in California – 2023
Written By: Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH
If you are interested in an excellent career in the medical field that pays well and requires only an associate degree, a career as an ultrasound technician may be right for you. In the state of California, ultrasound techs earn more than anywhere else in the country, making it a lucrative occupation. What’s more, this is a career choice that is perfect for anyone who wants to help others achieve and maintain good health. Below, you will learn about the best ultrasound technician schools in California so you can make better decisions about your future career.
RECOMMENDED ONLINE HEALTHCARE SCHOOLS
What Skills and Knowledge will I Gain from an Ultrasound Technician Program in California?
An ultrasound technician program in CA will provide you with all the knowledge and skills you need to succeed in your chosen career. The two most important things you will learn include human anatomy and how to operate the various types of medical equipment you will use on the job every day. Aside from this, you will learn medical terms to help you communicate effectively with your patients’ caregivers, and you will also learn about ethics and privacy as they apply to the medical industry in California.
Because an ultrasound tech’s primary job involves diagnostic imaging, you will take some courses related to physiology and how different diseases or conditions affect the human body. This will help you become more effective at your job, and it will benefit patients by allowing you to contribute to better overall outcomes.
Program Length & Cost of Ultrasound Technician Programs in California
The length of time and cost associated with becoming an ultrasound technician in California varies depending on the program you choose. An associate degree takes about two years and costs up to $59,160; a bachelor’s degree takes roughly four years and costs as much as $129,410. If you hold a degree in an allied health field and are interested in becoming an ultrasound tech, you may choose to earn a certificate, which takes around 10 to 18 months and costs up to $37,550.
| Type of Program|| Length|| Cost|
|Associate Degree||2 Years||$7,880 - $59,160|
|Bachelor's||4 Years||$35,070 - $129,410|
|Certificate (for individuals who hold an associate or bachelor’s degree in an allied health field)||10 - 18 Months||$4,070 - $37,550|
WHAT ARE THE BEST ULTRASOUND TECHNICIAN PROGRAMS IN CALIFORNIA?
(Based on our Ranking Methodology, below are the 12 best Ultrasound Technician programs in California. The list includes both campus-based and online programs.)
CBD College added the DMS program in 2013 to its campus, located in Los Angeles.
This ultrasound technician school in California is equipped with mock surgery rooms, computer labs, interactive classrooms, and a state-of-the-art library to optimize learning and achieve a positive academic outcome.
The 22-month associate degree program in diagnostic medical sonography is available with flexible day and evening classes delivered through personalized one-on-one tutoring. The program is a combination of classroom studies, training in imaging center and externship in various clinical settings. You get to learn about the usage of diagnostic imaging equipment, performing ultrasound scanning and maintaining patient records. Upon graduation, you will be fully prepared to work at hospitals, OB/GYN offices, and other imaging centers.
Program Type: B.S. in Diagnostic Medical Sonography
& Certificate in Cardiac Sonography
Loma Linda University houses well-known patient-care-facilities that not only serve patients of the Inland Empire but also provide an opportunity for its students to gain real-world experience. The School of Allied Health Professions at LLU offers two programs for aspiring sonographers.
B.S. in Diagnostic Medical Sonography:
This 27-month bachelor’s degree program in DMS is a mix of classroom studies and clinical training. Roughly about 20% of the coursework will be online or in a hybrid format. A small class size of 12-14 students guarantees individualized attention. The program starts each summer (June), and you will be required to spend up to 35 hours/week gaining valuable experience in clinical settings.
Certificate in Cardiac Sonography:
You can enroll for this certificate program in cardiac sonography if you already hold a degree in any healthcare career. This 12-month course starts every fall and comprises of comprehensive coursework which includes heart hemodynamics, patient treatment, diagnosis, and human anatomy. Before completion of this program, you will be required to clear the ARDMS – SPI exam, and after completion of this program, you will be eligible to take the RDCS exam.
UC San Diego Medical Center is an academic hospital and a renowned level 1 trauma center in the San Diego region. It prides in providing top-notch education with a strong emphasis on clinical training and patient care.
To become an ultrasound technician in CA you can consider this certificate program at UC San Diego Medical Center that can be completed in as little as 12 months. It is ideally meant for those who hold a degree in any allied healthcare career and are interested in a career change. Selection is very competitive, and every year only six students are admitted for classes starting once a year in January. Classroom lectures are scheduled once every week for 8 hours, and four days in a week you will participate in 8-hour hands-on clinical training at an affiliated acute center. The clinical rotation will be for six months, and you are guaranteed individual attention with only one student being assigned to one clinical site.
Associate & Certificate
Cypress College has been consistently ranking as one of the best community colleges in “The Golden State.” Interactive classrooms and well-equipped laboratories at Cypress make pursuing an ultrasound program a rather smooth learning experience.
The College offers an associate and a certificate program in DMS. Both these programs are Silver Star recipients, providing excellent practical training and preparing students for the ARDMS exam. Graduates will be fully prepared to work in acute centers or clinical settings.
The program spans over two years and requires completion of 78 credits. Coursework includes core courses plus general education courses. Clinical training provides you with the much needed real-world experience.
This is a career-changing track for those who already hold a degree in allied healthcare. The curriculum is divided into three semesters and a summer session. Coursework comprises but is not limited to, sonography physics & externship, abdomen scanning, cross-sectional imagining, clinical education, and Doppler techniques. In the last semester, you will go through a review seminar and participate in advanced clinical training.
Associate & Certificate
Cosumnes River College (CRC), located in Sacramento, has long been considered one of the best diagnostic medical sonography programs in CA. With small-sized classes, it ensures providing personalized education to ensure students are ready to take up challenges in a dynamic healthcare setting.
CRC offers two ultrasound technician training programs, which combine didactic curriculum, laboratory training, and clinical experience.
This program includes the entire 60-unit coursework as in a certificate program plus additional electives and general education courses. Core ultrasound coursework begins from the first summer semester itself, followed by advanced courses in abdominal, gynecological and obstetrical scanning.
This 64-week program is ideally meant for those who have completed an associate or bachelor’s in any allied health career and are looking for a career change. After completing all the required pre-requisite courses, you must complete 60 units to graduate.
6) Kaiser Permanente School of Allied Health Sciences - Richmond
Bachelor of Science (DMS) - General
Kaiser Permanente School of Allied Health Science (KPSAHS) runs with a mission to provide affordable healthcare education in the Northern California region. Equipped with the best medical equipment and learning solutions, the school, first started offering the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program in the year 2000.
You can pursue the 18-month BS degree in DMS with an option of choosing from one of the two concentrations – General Sonography and Cardiac Sonography.
You will gain knowledge and skills about the usage of the ultrasonic instrument to diagnose soft tissue organs in the human body, and upon completion of this program you can look for specific general sonographer jobs.
You will learn about the diagnosis of specific heart and vascular systems using ultrasonic equipment. Graduates of this program will be able to apply for echocardiographers’ positions in medical clinics or acute centers.
*Both these programs take six-academic-quarters to complete and are delivered through informative lectures in classroom settings and extensive practical training in medical clinics/offices and hospitals across Northern California.
Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) is one of the top-ranked community colleges in the country and winner of the Aspen Prize. This ultrasound technician school in California is spread over 74-acres and provides interactive classrooms, dedicated faculty and excellent support services for students.
SBCC offers a 21-month sequential certificate program with rigorous coursework comprising of radiography, imaging, and scanning of different parts of the body, and hands-on clinical experience in a variety of practice settings. This program is ideally meant for those who already have a degree in an allied healthcare field and are seeking a career change. The program starts every fall and prepares you for a thriving and competent career in various healthcare settings.
Associate & Certificate
Located in Los Altos Hills, Foothill College was established with a vision to provide quality health-care education through innovative learning solutions and extensive hands-on experiences. It is spread over 122-acres and facilitates various learning resources such as libraries, STEM center, laboratories and much more.
Foothill currently offers 2 DMS programs -
This program requires you to complete a minimum of 90 units which include courses in advance sonography (gynecology and obstetrics). You will also take courses in vascular sonography and pathology.
If you already hold an associate or bachelor’s in any allied healthcare field, then you can become an ultrasound technician in just 18 months by completing this 116.5-unit Certificate of Achievement program in DMS. The curriculum includes sonography principles, gynecology, pathology, obstetrics, anatomy, and hands-on clinical experiences. Only 15-20 students are admitted each year. Classes start in September and end one & a half years later in March.
Orange Coast College (OCC) located in Costa Mesa through its outstanding facilities equipped with the latest technology and experienced faculty is focused on providing employment ready training to help meet the growing demands of the allied healthcare sector.
This 84-unit associate degree in diagnostic medical sonography program at OCC, comprising of 69 core units and 15 general education units will take you four semesters, a summer session and an intersession to complete. The curriculum is a combination of classroom and clinical training, designed to provide you with the knowledge and skills in cross-sectional anatomy, pathology, and usage of the sonography equipment. The program begins in fall every year, and a maximum of 24 students are admitted depending on the clinical facility spaces available.
Merced College offers effective and transformative healthcare programs to students
with the motto - ‘Students are our focus, and we are known by their success’.
The full-time certificate program in Diagnostic Medical Sonography at Merced is meant for those who already hold a degree in any allied health career. The program ensures students are job-ready through rigorous classroom learning, lab work and supervised clinical experience in general sonography. This 49-unit coursework is divided into four semesters and a summer session. While pursuing this program, you will gain knowledge about - ultrasound physics, sonography, and superficial structures. Upon graduation, you can seek employment in a variety of healthcare settings such as hospitals, imaging labs, and other medical centers.
Founded in 1962, Mt. San Jacinto College (MSJC) is a public community college located in Riverside County. The campus is spread over a 1,700-square mile area, equipped with the latest technology, laboratories, libraries, and sports facilities.
The 60-unit diagnostic medical sonography associate degree program at MSJC will take you four semesters and a summer session to complete. Classes start each fall and curriculum includes fundamentals of sonography, patient care techniques, ultrasound pathology & physics, and extensive clinical experience. Apart from the core courses, you must complete 20 units of prerequisites courses in general education to successfully obtain this degree.
Certificate (Diagnostic Medical Sonography & Advanced Cardiac Medical Sonography)
Located in Fresno, Community Regional Medical Center (CRMC) is a private, non-profit healthcare center focused on providing high-quality healthcare services and education. Currently, CRMC runs various patient care centers, four acute centers, and a cancer institute.
CRMC offers two concentrated hospital-based sonography programs -
General Diagnostic Medical Sonography:
This 18-month program combines classroom studies, lab training, and clinical experiences at hospitals affiliated with CRMC. It will prepare you for an entry-level position as a diagnostic medical sonographer. Based on the area of your interest, you can pursue this program in either one of the four tracks– General, Adult Cardiac, Pediatric Cardiac, or Vascular. To apply for this program, you need to hold a bachelor’s degree or an associate degree in allied health with a valid license.
Advanced Cardiac Sonography Program:
The program is primarily designed for echocardiographers who plan to acquire advanced knowledge and skills. This is a hybrid program, where didactic part of the curriculum is offered 100% online with minimal skype instructions. You will be required to complete a total of 240 hours in clinical internship out of which 120 hours will be at the Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno and the remaining 120 hours can be completed via SKYPE instruction and assigned projects. To apply for this program, you need to hold a bachelor’s or masters in any field, must have RDCS or RCS credential and have at least three years of clinical experience in echocardiography.
VIEW OUR RANKING METHODOLOGY
How Many Ultrasound Techs are Currently Employed in CA?
In Which Health Care Settings are Ultrasound Techs Currently Working in California?
Ultrasound techs work in a variety of settings across the state of California. Hospitals and physicians’ offices are the biggest employers, followed by medical and diagnostic laboratories and outpatient care centers. In both hospitals and doctors’ offices, you will utilize your skills to take diagnostic images using a transducer probe, which displays images on a monitor. Then, you will capture these images and send them to the patients’ doctor and work together to find a diagnosis.
| Industry||Number of Ultrasound Technicians|
|Offices of Physicians||2,020|
|Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories||850|
|Outpatient Care Centers||320|
Top Hospitals in California to Work as an Ultrasound Tech
More than half of the ultrasound techs employed across the state of California work in hospitals, and like any other career, your employer of choice will play an important role in things like your salary, your level of satisfaction, and your overall job security. The top two ultrasound tech employers in CA are the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical Centers. These hospitals train some of the top physicians and other medical professionals in the country, and they are quite popular among Californians for this reason. You can count on a high salary and outstanding job security when you choose to work at either location.
Some other major employers of ultrasound technicians in this state include the world-famous Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Stanford Hospital, the UC Davis Medical Center, and the Scripps La Jolla hospital network.
| Rank|| Hospital Name|| Location|
| 1|| UCSF Medical Center|| San Francisco|
| 2|| UCLA Medical Center|| Los Angeles|
| 3|| Cedars-Sinai Medical Center|| Los Angeles|
| 4|| Stanford Health Care-Stanford Hospital|| Stanford|
| 5|| UC Davis Medical Center|| Sacramento|
| 6|| Scripps La Jolla Hospitals|| La Jolla|
| 7|| Keck Hospital of USC|| Los Angeles|
| 8|| Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian|| Newport Beach|
| 9|| UC San Diego Health-Jacobs Medical Center|| San Diego|
| 10|| Huntington Memorial Hospital|| Pasadena|
What is the Average Salary of an Ultrasound Tech in the State of California?
Your ultrasound technician salary in California will be higher than anywhere else in the country. Collectively, the average salary is $55.04 an hour, which translates to $9,540 a month or $114,480 a year. California is home to some of the most prestigious hospitals and medical centers in the world, and they have high standards for all their medical professionals. As a result, they compensate well, and you can earn a handsome living – even in a state known for its high cost of living.
| Type|| Salary|
|(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)|
Salary Based on Years of Experience For Ultrasound Techs in California
| Years of Experience || Hourly || Monthly || Annual |
| Less than 1 year (Starting) || $37.21 || $6,450 || $77,400 |
| 1-4 years || $45.57 || $7,900 || $94,780 |
| 5-9 years || $51.57 || $8,940 || $107,270 |
| 10-19 years || $65.13 || $11,290 || $135,480 |
| 20 years or more || $77.39 || $13,410 || $160,970 |
|(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)|
Ultrasound Tech Average Salary Comparison: California vs. National
When you choose to work as a diagnostic medical sonographer in California, you will earn a salary that is 35.62% higher than the country’s average. This is due in part to CA’s high cost of living, but your high salary is also a reflection of the state’s dedication to hiring only the best medical professionals to work in its many renowned medical centers.
| California|| National|| Difference|
| Number|| %|
|(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)|
Job Outlook For Ultrasound Techs in California
Between 2020 and 2030, some 1,600 new ultrasound tech jobs will become available across CA, representing significant occupational growth of 20.78%. This growth will be spurred by two very important factors. First and foremost, changes to state-subsidized health insurance across the state will make health insurance more affordable, which means that more people across the state will seek care.
Second, California’s population is on the rise. It is estimated that the population will climb by just under 1%
every single year, leading to a total population of 44.1 million by 2040. When compared to the state’s 2021 population of 39.70 million, there will be five million more people who require medical care. As a result, all medical professions in the state will grow.
| Employment|| Employment Growth (2020-2030)|
| 2020|| 2030|| Number|| Percent|
Annual Job Openings For Ultrasound Techs in California
| New || Replacement|| Annual Job Openings (New + Replacement)|
Metro Wise Employment & Salary Data Ultrasound Techs in California
Some metropolitan areas across California pay much more than others, so it is important to keep this in mind when choosing a career so you can decide how far you are willing to commute. To put this into perspective, ultrasound technicians who work in the Sacramento-Roseville-Arden Arcade metropolitan area – a very well-to-do and affluent part of the state – earn an average annual income of $140,910, which is nearly 23% higher than the state’s average and a whopping 67% more than the national average.
On the other hand, those who work in the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario metro earn much less at $105,556. This is still nearly 25% higher than the national average, but it is nearly 8% less than the state’s average income for ultrasound techs. This tremendous difference in pay between metro areas has to do with factors such as the community’s local economy and the population. While places like San Bernardino might offer low-cost healthcare in the inner city community, Salinas is far more prosperous.
| Metro || Employment || Average Salary |
| Hourly || Monthly || Annual |
| Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim || 2,890 || $51.87 || $8,990 || $107,890 |
| San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward || 920 || $67.75 || $11,740 || $140,910 |
| Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario || 720 || $47.32 || $8,200 || $98,430 |
| San Diego-Carlsbad || 620 || $55.11 || $9,550 || $114,640 |
| Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade || 570 || $61.98 || $10,740 || $128,930 |
| San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara || 470 || $66.87 || $11,590 || $139,090 |
| Fresno || 250 || $48.72 || $8,450 || $101,340 |
| Bakersfield || 170 || $44.31 || $7,680 || $92,170 |
| Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura || 160 || $45.24 || $7,840 || $94,090 |
| Modesto || 130 || $55.55 || $9,630 || $115,550 |
| Santa Maria-Santa Barbara || 130 || $53.27 || $9,230 || $110,810 |
| Stockton-Lodi || 130 || $55.45 || $9,610 || $115,340 |
| Vallejo-Fairfield || 100 || $69.65 || $12,070 || $144,870 |
| Santa Rosa || 80 || $61.40 || $10,640 || $127,710 |
| Visalia-Porterville || 70 || $43.79 || $7,590 || $91,090 |
| Chico || 60 || $48.78 || $8,460 || $101,460 |
| Salinas || 60 || $50.65 || $8,780 || $105,350 |
| Santa Cruz-Watsonville || 50 || $59.70 || $10,350 || $124,180 |
| Redding || 40 || $50.51 || $8,750 || $105,050 |
| San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande || 40 || $52.47 || $9,100 || $109,140 |
|(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)|Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH
Pattie Trumble is a nurse who worked in both California and New York for many years as an emergency room nurse. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley, and an Associate Degree in Nursing from the Samuel Merritt Hospital School of Nursing. After 10 years of providing direct care, she went back to school and earned concurrent Master’s degrees in both public policy and public health from the University of California, Berkeley. Thereafter, she worked for various public health agencies in California at both the community and state levels providing economic and legislative analysis.