Bone Density Technician Training and Degree Program Options

Bone density technicians generally perform medical imaging via x-ray technology known as bone densitometry. Degree programs can usually be found in imaging science or technology and are offered at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels.

Essential Information

Bone densitometry programs offer students the opportunity to understand the physics behind radiologic science. They typically offer lab exercises and hands-on internship training in which students work directly with imaging equipment. Most training programs are designed to prepare students for certification exams given by organizations such as the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (AART) and the International Society for Clinical Densitometry (ISCD). Some bone density technician training courses can take less than one week to complete.

  • Program Level for Bone Density Training: Certification; associate's degree in medical imaging technology; bachelor's degree in medical imaging science.
  • Prerequisites: GED or high school diploma for certification, associate's and bachelor's degrees.
  • Program Length: Associate's degree 2 years; bachelor's degree 4 years.
  • Online Availability: Some courses are available online.

Bone Density Technician Certification Training

Bone density measurement (also known as dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) training courses teach the essential knowledge required for ARRT and ISCD certification exam eligibility. These programs introduce students to symptoms that indicate the need to obtain bone mass measurements, along with the safety and technical actions used during these radiological procedures. Instruction is also given on the relationship between bone density measurements and the risk of fracture. The majority of these programs do not have education prerequisites; however, some might require that candidates hold a high school diploma or GED.

The curriculum in bone density training programs strives to meet national radiologic science professional standards. Subject areas covered include:

  • Functions of bones
  • Methods and techniques for acquiring and analyzing bone density scans
  • Basic database management and quality assurance procedures
  • Radiation safety measures
  • Skeletal physiology and bone anatomy

Associate's Degree in Medical Imaging Technology

Individuals seeking a degree program option that covers much of the same material as a bone density technician training program can consider an associate's degree program in medical imaging technology. These degree programs prepare graduates for entry-level employment or a bachelor's degree program in this field. Topics covered in an associate's degree program include medical terminology, anatomy, ultrasound principles and scanning.

Medical imaging technology associate's degree programs tend to take about two years to complete and involve approximately 24-credit hours of general education classes, along with a specified number of core and specialization classes. Typical classes include:

  • Physiology
  • Emergency response
  • Physics
  • Medical ethics
  • Doppler imaging

Bachelor's Degree in Medical Imaging Sciences (BSMIS)

Undergraduate majors in medical imaging sciences, also known as radiologic technology, provide students with the general education and scientific knowledge base for most careers in the radiology industry. Aspiring bone densitometry technicians are provided with the skills to use x-ray equipment and shield patients from unnecessary radiation. They learn patient care and bone measuring techniques.

Students gain the medical imaging training required for ARRT certification exam eligibility. Those students who have successfully completed a two-year clinical program or earned professional radiologic technology credentials may be given advanced standing in these programs.

A bachelor's degree program curriculum includes clinical internships in imaging modalities, such as diagnostic medical sonography, magnetic resonance imaging and nuclear medicine technology. Students also complete general education courses in liberal arts and humanities. Common medical imaging coursework can include:

  • Computers in healthcare
  • Nuclear medicine
  • Health sciences
  • Scientific inquiry
  • Ethical issues in healthcare

Popular Career Options

An associate's degree in medical imaging technology can open up career opportunities in physician's offices, industrial x-ray facilities and hospitals for radiologic technicians. Bachelor's holders possess the theoretical and practical knowledge to enter mid-level technologist careers in several areas of medicine. Job positions may include:

  • Bone density technician and radiographer
  • Nuclear medical technologist
  • Computed tomography technologist
  • Nuclear medicine technician
  • Diagnostic medical sonographer
  • Magnetic resonance imaging technician

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the occupational demand for radiologic technologists and technicians, including bone density technicians, is predicted to increase by approximately 21% from 2012-2022, which is faster than the average for all jobs. In May 2014, these positions paid a median annual wage of $55,870, according to the BLS.

Professional Certification

The BLS states that licensure is a requirement for bone density technologists and radiologic technicians in most states. To qualify for certification exams, graduates must hold an allied health degree and have documented experience.

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