Computer Tomography Technician: Employment Info & Career Requirements

Read on to see what computer tomography (CT) technicians do. Learn about the education and training needed for employment. See what the job prospects are, decide if this is the career for you and learn about similar alternative career options.

Career Definition for a Computer Tomography Technician

Computer tomography technicians are more specialized radiology technicians who employ ionizing radiation to take cross-sectional x-rays of a part of the body. These sections are combined to produce a 3D image for diagnostic purposes. CT technicians explain the exam to patients and position patients for the procedure. Technicians may also be required to administer contrast material, depending on the type of scan. As technicians are constantly exposed to varying levels of radiation, care must be taken to ensure safety. With the growing need for computer tomography technicians, they can usually find work in any state or elect to be a traveling technician and move from place to place to do contract work.

Required Education An accredited associate's degree for most posts; mandatory national license; some states also require a license
Job Skills Using ionizing radiation to take cross-sectional x-rays of the body, explaining the exam to patients, administering contrast material, independent reasoning, team oriented, and compassion
Median Salary (2015)* $56,670 (radiologic technologists)
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 9% growth (radiologic technologists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Required

A 2-year associate's degree from an accredited program is required for most positions as a computer tomography technician, while a bachelor's or master's degree is required for upper level jobs in education, administration, or management. Students will learn anatomy, imaging procedures, terminology, ethics, patient care, and a host of other principles through their general courses; additional training and on-the-job experience are needed to specialize in CT scans.

A national license is mandatory, with additional state licensure required in certain areas. An exam-based certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) is also recommended and preferred by many employers.

Skills Required

Computer tomography technicians must be able to work as a member of a team, as well as alone without direct supervision. Techs must be sensitive to the needs and disabilities of their patients and be strong enough to assist those patients into position for procedures.

Career Growth and Economic Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment outlook for radiologic technologists, including CT technicians, is highly favorable and is expected to grow faster than average in the U.S., at a rate of about 9% from 2014 through 2024. The BLS reported the median annual wage of a radiologic technologist as $56,670 in May 2015.

Alternate Career Options

Here are some alternative career option examples:

Radiation Therapist

A radiation therapist operates radiation machines that deliver radiation treatments to people with illnesses like cancer. They explain the process to the patient and ensure that he or she is positioned properly for the treatment. They check the dosage of the machine and administer the treatment. They also keep treatment records. Earning an associate's degree or bachelor's degree and state licensing is a common path to a career as a radiation therapist. Professional American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification may also be required. Jobs for radiation therapists are expected to increase 14% from 2014-2024, per the BLS. Radiation therapists earned median pay of $80,220 in 2015.

Nuclear Medicine Technologist

A nuclear medicine technologist conducts diagnostic testing using specialized machines. Nuclear medicine technologists prepare radioactive drugs for patients, position patients properly for the exam, monitor the operation of the machine, and keep records of treatments given. These professionals usually hold an associate's or bachelor's degree; licensing and certification requirements may vary. The BLS predicts that nuclear medicine technologists will see job growth of 2% from 2014-2024. This occupation paid a median salary of $73,360 in 2015, per the BLS.

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