A CAT scan, also sometimes called a CT scan, is a diagnostic medical test that uses specialized X-ray equipment and computer technology to create cross-sectional images of a patient's internal organs. Training in radiologic technology is available at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels. Radiologic technology programs may include practicum and clinical experiences in addition to seminars and laboratory components.
Associate's degree programs require incoming students to have a high school diploma with a GPA of at least 2.5. They must gain acceptance into a two-year community college, vocational school, or health sciences center. Students transferring to a four year program are sometimes required to have completed an associate's degree in general education or liberal arts before they can begin clinical courses. Those who are already certified radiologic technologists should provide proof of completing an associate's degree in radiologic technology before enrolling in a baccalaureate program.
Associate of Science in Radiologic Technology
In order to become a radiologic technologist in general or a CT technologist specifically, individuals must complete an undergraduate degree program approved by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). A two-year program in the field provides students with a fundamental background in radiologic procedures, imaging practices, radiation safety, and radiation equipment. Clinical and practicum components cover specific types of radiologic equipment, such as CAT scanning equipment. Most of the first-year courses included within an associate's degree program in radiologic technology provide an introduction into health sciences, radiography, and imaging technology. Later courses cover specific instrumentation, procedures, and safety issues. Some examples of course topics include the following:
- Human anatomy and physiology
- Introductory radiography
- Medical imaging
- Radiographic pathology
- Radiographic procedures
- Specialized radiographic technology
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Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Technology
A four-year bachelor's degree program in radiologic technology can also prepare individuals to become radiologic technologists or CAT scan technologists. Baccalaureate programs in the field contain many of the same introductory courses as associate's degree programs, but they typically require students to complete more general education courses. Some such programs are only open to students who have completed an associate's degree and who are interested in learning more about how topics such as business communication or information technology management affect the field. Programs such as those can prepare CT technologists to take on advanced management or leadership roles within a healthcare facility's imaging department. Baccalaureate degree programs in the field of radiologic technology combine seminar courses, general education courses, laboratory courses, and clinical experiences. Some examples of coursework might include the following:
- Fundamentals of patient care
- Physics for radiography
- Ethics and law in medical imaging
- Advanced radiographic procedures
- Radiation biology
- Clinical practicum
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not report specific data for CT technologists, but it did report that radiologic technologists in general held approximately 195,590 positions in 2015. According to the BLS, in 2014, 59% of all radiologic technologists employed worked in hospitals. The median annual salary earned by radiologic technologists of all kinds, including CAT technologists, was reported as $56,670 by the BLS in May 2015.
Certification and Continuing Education Information
Most states require radiologic technologists to gain licensure, although requirements vary from state to state. ARRT offers national, voluntary certification in the field. The organization's examinations are often used for state licensure purposes. To maintain certification, radiologic technologists must complete continuing education. Some schools offer advanced certificate programs specifically related to CT technology that meet those requirements.
Individuals interested in working with CT technology may get the training needed from an Associate of Science in Radiologic Technology or a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Technology. Both programs teach students how to work with radiologic technology, but the bachelor's degree offers more general education and administration classes for those interested in management.