Dental Radiographic Technician: Job Info & Career Requirements

Read about what a dental radiographic technician does. Explore the required training, necessary skills, salary possibilities and job outlook, to see if this profession is the right one for you.

Job Definition for a Dental Radiographic Technician

Naturally, a dental radiographic technician's primary task is to take x-rays of patients' teeth and mouth. The technician's equally important responsibility, of course, is to prevent unnecessary radiation for the patient through proper placement of a lead apron atop the patient's chest, as well as correct use of the x-ray machine. The radiographic tech might also maintain equipment, keep patients' records, or do other administrative duties.

Education Postsecondary diploma or certificate
Job Skills Knowledge of film development and digital equipment, good interpersonal skills
Median Salary (2019)* $35,622 (for an X-ray certified dental assistant)
Job Growth (2016-2026)** 19% (for all dental assistants)

Sources: *, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education and Training

Aspiring radiologic and MRI technologist most commonly hold an associate's degree, but there also are numerous postsecondary education programs that award graduate certificates and bachelor's degrees. Course topics include pathology, image evaluation, anatomy, and patient care.

Dental assistants, on the other hand, typically complete certificate or diploma programs, which usually take about one year. Associate's degree programs are available, but are much less common.

Regardless of training path, learning formats in both programs are fairly similar. Students in these programs typically learn through a combination of traditional classroom study and hands-on clinical experience.

Necessary Skills

Since the dental radiographic technician takes x-rays, it follows that he or she will know how to operate sophisticated digital equipment. Also, interpersonal skills are a must for any dental technician. Not only do many people have a fear of the dentist, but a patient can be virtually any age, so the tech should adjust his or her 'chairside manner' accordingly.

Income and Career Possibilities

Above-average job growth of 19% is expected in the field of dental assisting for the period of 2016-2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, reported that X-ray certified dental assistants earned a median salary of $35,622 as of 2019.

Alternate Career Options

Similar careers to a dental radiographic technician include:

Radiation Therapist

With at least an associate's degree in radiation therapy, these therapists administer radiation as part of a treatment for cancer and other diseases. Faster-than-average employment growth of 13% was expected in this field during the 2016-2026 decade, according to the BLS. These therapists earned an annual median wage of $80,570 in 2017, per the BLS.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technologist

MRI techs usually earn a minimum of an associate's degree in this field to secure employment creating diagnostic images by operating MRI scanners. The BLS reported a median salary of $69,930 per year in 2017, in addition to predicting faster-than-average job growth of 14% through 2026.

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