In a radiation therapy associate's degree program, students learn to interact with patients, interpret and administer treatments, apply principles of radiation safety and operate radiation equipment. Programs that have earned approval from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) meet professional standards. At the completion of an approved program, graduates will be eligible to seek the licensure or certification that may be required to work in their state.
Applicants for these associate's degree programs need a high school diploma or equivalent. Once in the program, students are expected to participate in hands-on work and clinical rotations.
Associate's Degree Program in Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy programs include coursework in radiation science and procedures. Courses are often grouped with labs and clinical experiences that allow students to practice techniques. General education requirements include communications and psychology. Students study principles of oncology and radiation physics, as well as the following:
- Dose calculations
- Radiologic equipment operation
- Sectional anatomy
- Treatment planning
Popular Career Options
The expansion of healthcare will create job openings for radiation therapists. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects faster-than-average growth of 9% for this career from 2018-2028, and the median wage in May 2018 was $82,330. The BLS also reported that these radiation therapists might find work in hospitals, as well as physician's offices and outpatient centers (www.bls.gov). Other possible job titles in the field include:
- Staff radiation therapist
- Radiation therapy technologists
- Computed tomography simulation therapist
Radiation therapists may be required to become licensed and certified. The BLS indicated in 2016 that most states require individuals to be licensed, which often includes passing the ARRT certification exam. To sit for this exam, individuals must meet ethical and educational standards. Once certified, radiation therapists must meet continuing education and other standards for renewal. Additionally, students may choose to further their education in the field through the completion of a bachelor's degree program in radiation therapy.
Associate's degree programs in radiation therapy include an array of general education, anatomy and physics classes, along with clinical work. Graduates will be prepared to seek the professional licensing and certification required to work as a radiation therapist, a field that is expected to have faster-than-average job growth from 2014 through 2024.