What you need to know about how to become a sonographer in the UK

21 June 2023  •  Locum
What you need to know about how to become a sonographer in the UK

Sonographers are health professionals who use ultrasound examinations to make a diagnosis and monitor patient conditions. Sonographers undertake a range of patients from those who are perfectly healthy to those who are critically ill, so extensive training is needed to work in this role. Sonography jobs here in the UK can be competitive but, with the right training and knowledge, it is possible. Sonography is an exciting profession in which you will be using cutting edge technology and your skills will constantly be tested. If you want to enter into this evolving field of modern medicine, here is what you need to know about how to become a sonographer in the UK.

How much do sonographers earn in the UK?

The average annual salary for a UK-based sonographer in the NHS can range from £43,742 to £50,056, and the rate for Locum Sonographers is up to £55 per hour. It is important to note that this salary range reflects the national average and may be subject to variations across the country and of course, depend on both experience and who exactly you work for.


Sonographers with more experience in the field will often earn higher salaries than new professionals. This is because with experience comes specialist skills that are valuable to the role. More experienced sonographers may also be required to take on more responsibility in the workplace, such as overseeing trainees, so will be paid more for their hard work.

Working for the NHS

Many sonographer jobs are available in the national health service (NHS), which is funded by the government and available to all citizens of the UK. 

Working for the private sector

Sonographers who work for private hospitals may be able to earn a slightly higher annual salary, however, the overall average remains the same as UK sonographer jobs in the NHS.

What you need to know about becoming a sonographer in the UK


The UK offers a variety of work visas for people who want to work in the UK. The visa that you will need will depend on whether you are planning to work long-term or short-term. Most UK sonography jobs will have long-term contracts.

Health and care worker visa

The health and care worker visa is for medical professionals who are planning to work within the NHS. To apply for this visa you must be a fully qualified health care professional, work for a UK employer and have a certificate of sponsorship from your employer about the role that you have applied for. This job offer must be confirmed. The health and care worker visa will last 5 years - you will then have to extend it if you wish to stay in the UK longer. You can apply for this visa up to 3 months before your employment start date.

Skilled worker visa

The skilled worker visa is available to anyone who has an approved job offer from a UK employer. The job must be on the list of eligible positions and you must have a certificate of sponsorship from your employer. Applicants will also be expected to read and write in English and will be tested on this when they apply. The skilled worker visa lasts up to 5 years until it must be extended and can be applied for up to 3 months before your employment start date.

Tier 2 (General) visa

The Tier 2 visa was replaced by the Skilled Worker visa in 2021 but is still valid for some people who already have a visa. You may be able to switch to the Skilled Worker visa if your current visa is about to expire.

Youth Mobility Scheme visa

The Youth Mobility Scheme visa (YMS) is a visa that allows young people who have certain types of British Nationality or are from certain countries or territories listed in the eligibility requirements, to live and work in the UK for up to 2 years. The YMS is a great way to experience British culture, meet new people, and gain valuable work experience.

There are a number of eligibility requirements for the YMS, such as:

  • Be between the ages of 18 and 30 (35 for New Zealand citizens)
  • Be a citizen of one of the eligible countries
  • Have a valid passport
  • Have £2,530 in savings
  • Be able to speak English to a certain proficiency 

Find out more about the Youth Mobility Scheme visa here.

Student visa

If you do not meet the qualification criteria to become a sonographer in the UK, you may need to complete further study. The UK offers a student visa to anyone who wishes to study in the UK. You must be 16 years or older to apply for this visa and must have secured an offer on your desired course. You will also need to provide yourself with enough money to pay for your tuition fees and to support your living and need to have good English language skills. For degree level courses, your visa will permit you to stay in the UK for up to 5 years.

Qualifications and experience

Most sonographers will need to hold a postgraduate certificate or postgraduate diploma in either medical or clinical ultrasound (though this is not a legal requirement). To receive a postgraduate qualification you will need the equivalent of 3 A-levels (to get onto an undergraduate degree) and an undergraduate degree in a related subject. Undergraduate degrees that are related to sonography include radiography, midwifery, nursing, science and health science - most fields of medicine will be accepted. You will also need to prove that you can read and write in English and pass a DBS check to be eligible to work as a sonographer in the UK.

Sonographer positions can be competitive, so you will have a higher chance at success if you have some relevant work experience on your CV. Relevant work experience for sonography could be anything within the healthcare or medical industry. It may be a good idea to get part-time work as a healthcare assistant whilst studying for your degree or to spend time working as an assistant sonographer before you apply. Providing evidence of work experience will prove that you have the skills and knowledge required to work in sonography. It is a bonus if your experience is within the NHS as this will show that you understand their core values and methods of practice.

What will the sonography job market in the UK be like post-covid?

There is a demand for sonographers in the UK and, with the pandemic taking a hit at NHS workers, this is expected to continue post-pandemic. The NHS is always hiring new professionals and values diversity within the workplace. The UK offers many great opportunities for aspiring sonographers.

If you are interested in learning more about working in the UK or would like to browse Locum sonographer jobs that are available, you may be able to find a job through our site. Globe Locum is a clinician-lead healthcare recruitment agency with strong links to healthcare roles across the UK.

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