Radiologic technologists or technicians use x-rays to identify and diagnose medical problems. Diploma programs are often designed for students new to the radiologic technology field, while applicants to certificate programs are usually licensed radiologic technologists seeking specialized training. Entry to these programs often requires meeting requirements for SAT or ACT scores, as well as a satisfactory score on an admission placement test. Previous coursework in chemistry or biology is also typically required. Both programs often include clinical work and can lead to professional certification and/or licensure.
Associate's Degree Programs in Diagnostic Radiology
Diploma programs in diagnostic radiology are designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to pursue professional positions and to qualify for certification. Students could learn the theories behind radiology and the uses for radiologic images as well as how to operate the specialized equipment used during procedures.
Diploma programs require between 70-120 credit hours of coursework. Typical courses include:
- Introduction to radiography theories
- Radiographic procedures
- Radiographic imaging
- Radiographic equipment
- Radiographic pathology
Certificate Programs in Diagnostic Radiology
Certificate programs in diagnostic radiology are generally designed for practicing radiologic technologists who wish to specialize in an area such as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These programs focus on the skills needed to operate specialized equipment used for these technologies.
Certificate programs require between 25-30 credits hours of coursework. Coursework includes:
- Sectional anatomy
- Imaging procedures
- Clinical experience
Popular Career Choices
Students who complete a diploma program in diagnostic radiology are prepared to sit for certification exams to become certified radiologic technologists. Most technologists work in hospitals. Others are employed by diagnostic laboratories, physicians' offices or outpatient care clinics. Job titles include:
- X-ray technician
- Radiologic technologist
- Radiologic technician
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Employment for radiologic technologists is expected to grow 9% between 2014 and 2024, according to the BLS (www.bls.gov). Median wages were $56,670 annually as of May 2015.
Licensing, Certification and Continuing Education
While requirements vary by state, at least 40 states require licensing for those working in diagnostic radiology, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), www.bls.gov. Many states use the certification exam administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), www.arrt.org, for their licensing. To be eligible for ARRT certification, students must complete an accredited training program. Radiologic technologists are required to complete continuing education hours to maintain certification.
With experience, radiologic technologists may advance into management or supervisory positions. With additional education, technologists can become radiologist assistants.
Programs in radiologic technology cover procedures, imaging, and pathology. Available at the certificate and associate's degree levels, these programs prepare students for careers in the radiologic field, including x-ray technicians and radiographers.