Limited X-Ray Machine Operator: Job Description and Requirements

A career as a limited x-ray machine operator (LXMO) requires vocational training and state licensure. These professionals can work as radiology, computed tomography (CT), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technicians or assist in other areas of radiology.

Career Definition

Limited x-ray machine operators perform radiographic exams at physicians' and dentists' offices, urgent care facilities, and public health clinics. Limited x-ray machine operators prepare patients for exams and explain procedures to them. They must follow strict guidelines about usage of radiographic equipment. In addition to x-rays, some operators are qualified to perform computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.

Education Requirements

Limited x-ray machine operators typically earn an x-ray technician diploma or certificate from a vocational school and then take a state certification exam. Limited x-ray certification means technicians are limited by the type of x-rays they are permitted to take. In California, for example, limited x-ray machine operators can only perform x-rays on the chest, extremities and torso-skeletal portions of the body ( Some limited x-ray machine operators may pursue an associate or bachelor's degree in radiologic science. Courses in limited x-ray machine operation may include physics, anatomy, physiology, radiology technology and diagnostic imaging. According to the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (, there are 32 states in the US that offer limited licenses.

Skills Required

Limited x-ray machine operators must have excellent communication skills in order to elicit patient data and explain radiologic procedures. They must be mentally prepared to work with critically ill patients and trustworthy enough to maintain patient privacy. Limited x-ray machine operators also must be proficient at record keeping.

Economic Outlook:

As the American population ages, creating demand for medical services, limited x-ray machine operators and other radiology technicians should experience faster than average job growth of 21% between 2012-2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The American Society of Radiologic Technologists reports that the estimated salary an entry-level radiographer may expect was about $44,500 in 2010. Additionally, the BLS notes an annual median wage of $54,620 for radiologic technologists in 2012.

Alternate Career Options

Radiation Therapist

These therapists administer radiation in the treatment of diseases including cancer. Education programs range from a year-long certificate program to a bachelor's degree in radiation therapy. Positions in this field were expected to grow at a much faster than average pace of 24% from 2012-2022, according to the BLS. In 2012, radiation therapists earned a median salary of $77,560 per year, notes the BLS.

Nuclear Medicine Technologist

After earning at least an associate's degree in nuclear medicine, these professionals use a scanner for imaging various parts of the human body after administering radioactive drugs to the patients. They could expect faster than average employment growth of 20% from 2012-2022, and the BLS reported an annual median wage of $70,180 in 2012.

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