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Diagnostic Imaging Technician Job Information

Learn about the equipment a diagnostic imaging technician uses on the job. Discover the education requirements, salary and employment outlook to make the right career choice.

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Career Definition for a Diagnostic Imaging Technician

Diagnostic Imaging Technicians may work in the field of radiologic technology, which uses tests like x-rays, MRIs and CT scans, or in sonography, which uses sound waves, to scan the body to diagnose any medical problems patients may have. Diagnostic Imaging Technicians prepare patients by explaining and prepping them for the procedure, following imaging test instructions, operating diagnostic imaging equipment, recording data, assisting in image review and maintaining equipment.

Required Education Associate's degree is standard, but certificates and bachelor's degrees available; most sonography jobs require certification
Job Duties Include prepping patients for the procedure, following imaging test instructions, operating diagnostic imaging equipment, recording data
Median Salary (2015) $63,630 (medical sonographers); $56,670 (radiologic technologists)
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 24% growth (sonographers); 9% growth (radiology technologists)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Required

An associate's degree is the standard entry-level education needed to work in radiologic technology and sonography, though certificates and bachelor's degrees are also available. Anatomy, physiology, biology and math are important subjects of study, in addition to diagnostic imaging-specific skills. Radiologic technologists need to hold licensure or certification in the majority of states, which requires passing an examination offered by either the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) or the state. While licensing is only required in a few states, most sonography positions require certification, which is also offered through the ARRT.

Necessary Skills

Diagnostic Imaging Technicians must learn how to properly and safely handle diagnostic testing equipment. They must also be able to work with patients and help keep them calm during procedures. The ability to perform minor maintenance on diagnostic imaging equipment can be important as well.

Career and Economic Outlook

Diagnostic Imaging Technician jobs can be found across the country in hospitals, diagnostic imaging centers and physician's offices. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual income for diagnostic medical sonographers was $63,630 in 2015, while that of radiologic technologists was $56,670. Like most medical careers, strong growth is expected in the field over the 2014-2024 decade. Sonography is predicted to have 24% growth, a much faster than average rate in comparison to all careers, and for radiology technology a 9% employment increase is forecast, according to BLS data.

Alternative Careers

Here are some examples of alternative career options:

Nuclear Medicine Technologist

While still involved in patient imaging, nuclear medicine technologists administer radioactive drugs to assist in visual diagnosis of certain diseases. They need to have keen observation skills to notice the reactions patients may have to the drugs. To enter the field, an associate or bachelor's degree in nuclear medicine technology is necessary. Nuclear medicine is a small field of employment, but the BLS does predict a 2% increase in job opportunities between 2014 and 2024 and recorded the median salary at $73,360 in 2015.

Cardiovascular Technologist

Individuals interested in the imaging of the heart and vascular system can become cardiovascular technologists. Not only do these workers perform imaging duties, they also assist in the treatment of blood clots and help with procedures involving heart catheters. An associate degree in the field is required, and professional certification may provide a competitive advantage. Cardiovascular technologists and technicians earned a median salary of $54,880 in 2015, according to the BLS. The BLS anticipates a fast rate of employment growth for this profession of 22% during the 2014-2024 decade.

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