Diagnostic Radiology Diploma and Certificate Programs
This article explores diagnostic radiology diploma and certificate programs. Get information about educational prerequisites, popular career choices and licensing.
Radiologic technologists or technicians use x-rays to identify and diagnose medical problems. Students interested in these careers might consider a diploma or certificate program in diagnostic radiology. Both programs include a combination of lecture-based sessions, lab requirements and hands-on clinical experiences. However, 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. Both programs can lead to professional certification and/or licensure.
Diploma 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.
Radiology programs generally require students to have a high school diploma or equivalent. Additionally, previous coursework in chemistry or biology might be required. Some schools have minimum score requirements on ACT or SAT tests, or might require an admission placement test.
Diploma programs require between 70-120 credit hours of coursework. In addition, students participate in clinical courses in healthcare settings where they observe and participate in radiographic procedures. Typical courses include:
- Introduction to radiography theories
- Radiographic procedures
- Radiographic imaging
- Radiographic equipment
- Radiographic pathology
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
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.
Certificates 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 that are designed for practicing radiologic technologists may require applicants to be currently enrolled in or have previously completed a diagnostic radiology program. Previous coursework in chemistry and biology may also be required.
Certificate programs require between 25-30 credits hours of coursework. Curriculum includes clinical experiences where students receive hands-on training observing and operating imaging equipment. Coursework includes:
- Sectional anatomy
- Imaging procedures
- Clinical experience
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Employment for radiologic technologists is expected to grow at a faster than average rate during the period between 2010 and 2020, according to the BLS (www.bls.gov). Median wages were $54,620 annually as of May 2012.
Continuing Education and Advancement
With experience, radiologic technologists may advance into management or supervisory positions. With additional education, technologists can become radiologist assistants.
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