Career Definition for a CAT Scan Technologist
|Education||Associate's or bachelor's degree; graduate certificate|
|Job Skills||Knowledge of protection from radiation; phlebotomy training; attention to detail; physical stamina; and good interpersonal skills|
|Median Salary (2015)||$58,120 (for radiologic and MRI technologists)|
|Job Growth (2014-2024)||9% (for radiologic and MRI technologists)|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
A CAT scan technologist is responsible for rendering diagnostic images of a patient's tissues and organs via a CT scanner. Routine activities can include recording patient histories, preparing them for scans, operating equipment, and consulting with physicians. CAT scan technologists can be employed by hospitals, doctor's offices, laboratories, or outpatient facilities.
An associate degree program in radiography, especially one that has been approved by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology, can provide students with the clinical and theoretical training they need to obtain a position as a CAT scan technologist. Some schools also offer bachelor's degree and graduate certificate programs. In general, the curriculum can include topics in human anatomy, radiation physics, pathology, and patient care. A state certification or license may also be required, and credentialing standards typically include completion of an accredited program and a passing score on an exam.
CAT scan technologists must know how to protect themselves and others from radiation. In some jobs, technologists might inject patients with intravenous contrast dyes to produce better CT scan images. In that case, phlebotomy training is helpful, particularly in California, where 80 hours of training is required for a phlebotomist's license. An attention to detail, physical stamina, and good interpersonal, math and technical skills are also key for CAT scan technologists.
Career and Salary Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that, in May 2015, radiologic and MRI technologists in general earned median annual wages of $58,120. Nationwide, employment growth for radiologic technologists is expected to increase by 9%, or faster-than-average, between 2014 and 2024, also according to the BLS.
Alternate Career: Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists
Sonographers and cardiovascular technologists or technicians conduct diagnostic imaging tests, including those that may take place during surgical procedures. Education requirements generally include an associate or bachelor's degree in sonography or cardiovascular technology; hospitals and postsecondary schools may also offer 1-year certificate programs for radiation professionals.
According to the BLS, employment opportunities for sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians are expected to increase by a dramatic 24% nationwide between 2014 and 2024, a much-faster-than-average rate of growth in comparison to all other occupations. Those who were employed in May 2015 earned median yearly salaries of $63,630 as reported by the BLS.
Alternate Career: Nuclear Medicine Technologists
Nuclear medicine technologists use radioactive substances and scanning equipment to create diagnostic images of a patient's organs and tissues. Completion of an associate or 4-year degree program in nuclear medicine technology is the usual requirement for entering the field; some states require a license. Nationwide, employment prospects for nuclear medicine technologists are projected to increase by a slower-than-average rate of 2% from 2014 to 2024, as reported by the BLS. As of May 2015, nuclear medicine technologists earned median annual wages of $73,360.
To summarize, CAT scan technologists render diagnostic images of a patient's tissues and organs via a CT scanner, usually need an associate degree, and may need state certification or licensing.