How to Become an X-Ray Tech

Learn how to become an x-ray technician. Research the education and career requirements, licensure and experience required for starting a career as an x-ray technician.

Do I Want to Be an X-Ray Technician?

X-ray technicians conduct imaging examinations and perform x-rays on patients for diagnostic purposes. After receiving an x-ray order from a physician, technicians prepare patients for the procedure by explaining what is about to occur, having them remove any unnecessary clothing items and putting them in the proper position. It's also essential that these technicians protect patients from any unnecessary radiation exposure. After the images are taken, they're given to the physician for interpretation and diagnosis. Techs often spend many work hours standing and must take measures to protect themselves from radiation exposure.

Job Requirements

Typically, at least an associate's degree in radiologic technology is required to become an x-ray technician. Additionally, passing a certification exam offered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) is required to obtain licensure in most states. The table below includes the requirements to become an x-ray technician.

Common Requirements
Degree Level Associate's degree*
Degree Name Radiography*
Licensure and/or Certification Required in most states*
Experience 1-3 years of experience preferred**
Key Skills X-ray technicians must be able to follow orders and communicate with patients.*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); ** job postings in August 2012

Step 1: Graduate with an Associate's Degree in Radiologic Technology

An associate's degree in radiography or radiologic technology will teach students safe methods to create quality x-ray images with low doses of radiation. Students in the program will learn about diagnostic imaging machine operation, professionalism and radiation protection standards. Students will be required to complete both general education and radiologic technology courses. Courses will cover topics involving anatomy and physiology, patient positioning, exposure techniques, patient care and radiation safety.

Success Tips

  • Enroll in an accredited program. In order to be eligible for the ARRT certification exam, enroll in a program accredited through the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). This organization ensures that a program conforms to standards that prepare students for employment upon graduation.

Step 2: Complete Clinical Training

Before obtaining employment and earning certification, individuals need to have some clinical experience in the field. Radiologic technology programs often provide students with the training necessary to begin employment. This is an opportunity for students to train under the supervision of an experienced technician while working with patients and interacting with other medical professionals.

Step 3: Obtain Licensing

After graduating from an accredited program and earning certification, individuals can pursue certification through the ARRT, which is often required for state licensing. Certification ensures that technicians have the qualifications to conduct medical imaging tests. The exam features 200 questions and covers topics involving radiation protection, equipment operation, image acquisition, imaging procedures and patient care.

Step 4: Complete Continuing Education Requirements

X-ray technicians must complete continuing education requirements every two years to maintain their certification. In order to maintain certification, technicians may need to take classes that will keep them up to date on the latest developments and newest technology in the field.

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