Medical dosimetrist is a relatively new career field which continues to grow in association with a greater demand. Currently a bachelor's degree is a prerequisite; however, it's not uncommon for medical dosimetrists to also have a master's degree or higher. Certification is also a requirement.
Medical dosimetrists calculate and administer precise amounts of radiation for the treatment of various cancers. They work in a team with radiation therapists and oncologists. A bachelor's degree from an accredited program is the minimum requirement to enter this rapidly-growing field. Dosimetry students get an overview of the duties of the radiation team and learn to calculate proper dosages. Dosimetrists must earn certification, which is a lengthy procedure, requiring an exam and an observation period.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree in medical dosimetry; master's degree is common as well|
|Other Requirements||Professional certification required|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||14% (radiation therapist)*|
|Median Annual Salary (May 2015)||$80,220 per year (radiation therapist)*|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Dosimetrists: Education Requirements
Dosimetrists typically must have a bachelor's degree in medical dosimetry. Many employers may also require a master's degree. Bachelor's degrees typically take 4-5 years, while a master's can take an additional 2-3 years. Most dosimetrist degree programs include radiation therapy components that help dosimetrists learn how the entire radiation therapy team works on the treatment of a patient. These programs also emphasize math and science courses to prepare students to calculate dosage.
Students should look for programs accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JCERT) in order to qualify for certification exams to be completed after graduation. Certification exams are administered by the Medical Dosimetrist Certification Board (MDCB). Certification usually involves taking an exam and participating in an interview, and finally, candidates are observed by a senior medical dosimetrist.
Dosimetrists administer and mix radioactive materials used in the treatment of cancer. Dosimetrists work closely with physicians to determine the correct dose of radiation and the proper positioning in order to best treat a patient. They work in oncology departments with physicians and radiation therapists who specialize in the treatment of cancer.
Dosimetrists typically work in hospitals and private cancer centers. They perform and work with precise calculations in the mixing and preparing of radiation treatments. Specialized equipment is used in these procedures and must be properly cared for and handled. Dosimetrists need to have good critical thinking and math skills, and they must follow radiation safety protocol as well as the treatment plans created by the oncology team.
Radiation therapy dosimetrists made a median salary of $80,220 per year in May 2015, according toThe U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also predicted that radiation therapy teams will continue to be in demand as the population ages and cancer diagnoses increase. Job opportunities were expected to see an increase of 14% from 2014-2024. The BLS notes that as radiation therapy becomes safer, it will likely be used more frequently and further increase demand for dosimetrists.
Dosimetrists need at least a bachelor's degree and often a master's in medical dosimetry. They must pass a certification exam, interview and observation to become a fully licensed medical dosimetrist. Dosimetrists work in hospitals and cancer treatment centers, and good job growth is expected in the field.