Radiographer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a radiographer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties, and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

Essential Information

Radiographers, also known as radiologic technologists, are certified technicians who capture images of organs, bone, and tissue for patient diagnosis. Radiographers are equipped with the technological skills to handle imaging equipment and the interpersonal skills necessary for patient care. Educational and licensure requirements vary by state and profession, though completion of a certificate or 2-year degree program is common for radiologic technologists.

Required Education Certificate or associate degree in radiologic technology or radiology; bachelor degrees available in radiography and sonography
Licensing and Certification Licensure, testing, and experience requirements vary by state; voluntary certification available through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists or the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 21% for radiologic technologists*
Median Salary (2013) $55,200 for radiologic technologists*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description of a Radiographer

Radiology technicians, technologists, and sonographers fall within the broad scope of a radiography profession. Using radiation in the form of x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging, and ultrasound, radiographers assess, diagnose, and treat patients for a variety of injuries and diseases. Often part of a medical or surgical team, radiographers are typically involved in initial patient evaluation and testing, providing diagnostic and evidentiary data for physicians.

Duties of a Radiographer

Radiology technicians (RT) and technologists (RTL) are generally responsible for preparing and safely positioning patients in order to get the most accurate images. Tasks for a radiology tech may range from assisting a radiologist with advanced preparation and testing to administrative tasks, such as organizing work schedules and maintaining patient records. An RTL may perform or specialize in mammography, computed tomography, or magnetic resonance imaging. Depending on the institution, RTs and RTLs may require on-call, evening, or weekend availability.

Similarly, sonographers also assist physicians with data images designed to identify issues with internal organs using noninvasive sound waves. Sonographers may specialize in several areas, including women's health, vascular technology, or echocardiography. Sonographers may work in hospitals, medical clinics, or private practice.

Educational Requirements of a Radiographer

The journey to becoming a radiographer often begins in high school with preparatory classes in math and science. Associate degrees or certificate programs are typically the minimum requirement for an entry-level position in the field. Several schools offer radiography programs, with courses in physiology, anatomy, and safe practices in radiological imaging. Those seeking a bachelor's degree may also find many schools with radiography and sonography majors. Regardless of the degree or educational level, most programs include exposure to the field through clinical practicums and rotations at affiliated medical institutions.

Licensure and Certification

Each specialization has federally regulated education standards, and many states mandate licensure for radiography professions. Testing and experience requirements vary by state. Optional certification may be obtained through several credentialing organizations, such as the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists or the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers. While voluntary, certification may improve salary and career options. Continuing education is usually required to maintain both licensure and certification.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Faster than average job growth of 21% was predicted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), from 2012-2022, for radiologic technologists. In 2013, the annual median salary for this profession was $55,200, the BLS stated.

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