Computed tomography (CT) is a non-invasive medical test combining x-ray and computer technology. Those who perform these imaging procedures are in demand, but they must meet certain credentialing requirements to work in the field.
Online availability of these programs include hybrid classes that are available to students. Programs typically require the student to be licensed or certified prior to admittance. Clinicals are typically required of students.
CT technologists take a series of cross-sectional scans to produce images of internal organs, tissues or other internal structures, which are used by physicians to make diagnoses. This occupation requires good communication, patient care and critical thinking skills. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, those who obtain certification in this field are more likely to have better job prospects (www.bls.gov).
ARRT is the credentialing organization for radiologic technology. A student must complete training from a program that is approved by ARRT to be eligible to take the organization's CT certification exam. ARRT requires applicants to be certified in radiation therapy, radiology or nuclear medicine prior to sitting for the CT certification exam.
Candidates can apply for certification testing online through the organization's website; however, they'll have to complete the computerized exam at an approved testing center. Certified technologists must complete continuing education -- which can include online or home study courses -- every two years to maintain their credentials.
Program Information and Requirements
Online CT certificate programs are offered through many community colleges and take around a year to complete. Due to the nature of this field, training programs are in a hybrid format which combines online and campus-based instruction. Clinical experiences in an approved healthcare setting are also required. In general, CT certificate programs are open only to students who are already licensed and/or certified in radiologic technology. Applicants may also have to submit documentation regarding criminal background, health status, drug screening and valid CPR certification.
The following list highlights common coursework in these hybrid programs.
Principles of Computed Tomography
This course outlines the essential tasks that a CT technologist performs along with a study of CT equipment and ARRT certification requirements. Students are provided with an overview of scanning methods and learn to acquire images of sectional parts of the body. They investigate the history of computed tomography and study x-ray safety.
The primary focuses of the course are acquiring patient-technologist communication skills, learning human anatomy and performing cross-sectional images for CT scans. Course covers the differences in tissue, organ, bone and muscle images on cross-sectional scans.
Students work in a clinic under supervision to gain hands-on experience with radiology equipment and learn about CT technologist duties. Some institutions allow students to earn the certificate without finishing the clinical. Students are then free to choose a facility near their place of residence for their clinicals.
Students must complete the clinical to ARRT standards before taking the exam for CT certification. There are 54 CT procedures in nine categories. To pass the clinical, students must choose 25 separate procedures and perform 3-5 repetition of each procedure for a total of 125 scans (minimum).
Students can prepare for computed tomography certification through degree programs that blend online classes with hands-on practice. Students should expect to study topics including equipment use, history of CT and sectional anatomy as well as participate in a CT clinic.