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Radiographer: Job Duties & Requirements

Find out about the common duties of radiographers, as well as what education is required for this job. Read on to see the skills needed by radiographers and their potential income. Information on career projections and alternative employment options is also available.

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Career Information

A radiographer, also called a radiography technician, works directly with patients as part of a healthcare team to assist in diagnosing and treating a variety of ailments, from broken bones to cancer. Radiographers take x-rays and use radiation therapy to treat patients' cancerous tumors. Other duties of the radiographer are to update patients' charts, maintain equipment in the radiology lab, and follow closely all of the safety precautions necessary to the job. There are 1-year programs to earn certification as a radiography technician; however, many students and employers consider a 2- or 4-year program in radiation sciences to be preferable.

How to Become a Radiographer or Radiography Technician

Required Education

The most common degree completed by those seeking a career in radiography is a 2-year associate's degree in radiation science. Coursework will include topics such as anatomy, biology and medical record keeping. Licensure laws vary by state, but most states require a board exam to be passed before a radiography technician can be licensed to practice.

Job Skills

A radiographer must communicate successfully with patients and their families. Therefore, patience and understanding are valuable skills. A desire to work as part of a team and the ability to follow exact instructions are also important.

Career and Economic Outlook

Job opportunities in healthcare continue to grow, and the field of radiography is no exception. Radiologist technologists and technicians were to have a 28% increase in jobs from 2010 to 2020, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). While hospitals remain the largest employers of radiography technicians, clinics, dentist's offices and diagnostic imaging centers are also in need of qualified radiographers. The BLS reported the median annual income for radiologic technologists at $54,620 in 2012.

Alternative Career Options

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

There are various types of sonographers, who use imaging equipment to assess medical problems. A postsecondary certificate or associate's degree is required to work as a sonographer. Between 2010 and 2020, sonographers were projected to experience a 44% increase in jobs, according to the BLS. As of May 2012, the median salary was reported as $65,860.

Cardiovascular Technologist and Technician

For this career category, the BLS reported an employment growth of 29% from 2010-2020. Technologists monitor the health of patients' hearts and help diagnose medical problems, while technicians assist technologists. Technicians may become certified to use an electrocardiogram (EKG). While not listed separately, the BLS stated that for 2012, cardiovascular technologists and technicians earned a median income of $52,070 per year.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics