The collapse voltage of micromachined capacitive ultrasonic transducers (CMUT) depends on the size, thickness, type, and position of the metal electrode within the membrane. This paper reports the result of a finite element study of this effect. The program (ANSYS 5.7) is used to model a circular membrane on top of a Si substrate covered by a Si3N4 insulation layer. We find that the collapse voltage increases in proportion to the metal thickness for constant membrane thickness. The collapse voltage of a membrane with a thin metal electrode decreases as the metal plate moves closer to the bottom of the membrane; whereas, for electrodes with larger metal thickness, the collapse voltage has a peak intermediate value. Decreasing the outer radius of the metal plate results in an asymptotic increase of the collapse voltage. For a finite metal thickness, an initial decrease in the collapse voltage is seen as the outer radius decreases. The collapse voltages of half-metallized and full-metallized structures are almost equal for typical metal plate thickness. The asymptotic increase of the collapse voltage is seen for ring shaped metal plates as the inner radius is varied from the center to the outer radius. In summary, we find that the influence of the metal electrode on the collapse voltage is a very important parameter in determining optimum performance of a CMUT.