Most single element hydrophones depend on a piezoelectric material that converts pressure changes to electricity. These devices, however, can be expensive, susceptible to damage at high pressure, and/or have limited bandwidth and sensitivity. The acousto-electric (AE) hydrophone is based on the AE effect, an interaction between electrical current and acoustic pressure generated when acoustic waves travel through a conducting material. As we have demonstrated previously, an AE hydrophone requires only a conductive material and can be constructed out of common laboratory supplies to generate images of an ultrasound beam pattern consistent with more expensive hydrophones. The sensitivity is controlled by the injected bias current, hydrophone shape, thickness and width. In this report we describe simulations aimed at optimizing the design of the AE hydrophone with experimental validation using new devices composed of a resistive element of indium tin oxide (ITO). Several shapes (e.g., bowtie and dumbbell) and resistivities were considered. The AE hydrophone with a dumbbell configuration achieved the best beam pattern of a 2.25MHz ultrasound transducer with lateral and axial resolutions consistent with images generated from a commercial hydrophone (Onda Inc.). The sensitivity of this device was ∼2 nV/Pa. Our simulations and experimental results both indicate that designs using a combination of ITO and gold (ratio of resistivities = ∼18) produce the best results. We hope that design optimization will lead to new devices for monitoring ultrasonic fields for biomedical imaging and therapy, including lithotripsy and focused ultrasound surgery.