Mammography is a type of imaging that uses a low-dose X-ray system to take images that aid in the early detection and diagnosis of breast diseases in women. For basic jobs in mammography, applicants need an associate's degree in radiologic technology. Some employers prefer applicants to complete a specialized mammography certificate program, which is a post-associate certificate. All programs include extensive training through clinical internship experiences.
Applicants seeking formal training in the field may enroll in associate's degree or certificate programs that are recognized by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Curriculum-based internships and clinical work is required by both programs. During clinical experiences, students work with mammography machinery and interact with patients.
Associate of Applied Science in Radiologic Technology
Students study topics including mammography technology, radiology, and pharmacology. Supervised clinical work performed at nearby hospitals or doctors' offices is a requirement of all programs. Courses in this program may include:
- Applied Radiography
- Radiation Physics
- Radiation Protection
- Essentials of Human Anatomy & Physiology
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Advanced Technical Mammography Certificate
Students enrolled in a post-associate mammography certificate program have already completed the requirements needed to become radiologic technologists. Most programs last one semester and include classroom instruction and clinical training. Students learn about diagnostic and screening procedures, which includes evaluating pathology reports, knowing breast anatomy and positioning machinery in courses covering topics such as:
- Breast Anatomy and Physiology
- Positioning and Compression
- Breast MRI
- Imaging of Patients With Breast Implants
Employers require job applicants to have performed a minimum of 25 mammography examinations under supervision. Applicants must understand the Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA) and hold professional certification from the AART.
Employers expect applicants to know how to operate breast imaging machinery and associated devices. They also need to know how to evaluate the results and share the information with physicians. It is imperative that technologists have strong verbal and written communication skills.
Licenses and Certifications
Professional post-primary certification is administered through the ARRT. Certification is given once applicants graduate from educational programs and pass the ARRT exam. The exam covers areas such as image evaluation and procedures, anatomy, patient care and instrumentation. To sustain the ARRT certification, applicants must complete 24 hours of continuing education classes every two years.
Workshops and seminars teach radiologic technologists about recent advances in radiology technology. These advances can include new types of X-ray images and computer-based mammography reports. Single-day seminars at satellite locations discuss changes in digital imaging mammography and radiation safety. Online seminars and teleconferences may cover screening techniques.
Radiologic technologists who specialize in mammography can seek further education by earning a bachelor's degree in radiologic science or technology. Most baccalaureate degree programs accept transfer credits from an associate's degree program in radiology technology. The bachelor's degree program focuses on computer applications, medical terminology, pathology and CT images. During the last two years of a program, students complete a clinical radiology internship with affiliated hospitals. A bachelor's degree program can prepare radiologic technologists for management or supervisory positions.
In order to get mammography training, students obtain a radiologic technician associate's degree, and then go on to earn a post-degree certificate to be mammography technicians. Further training is available through bachelor's degree programs if students are interested in higher pay.