Calculating radiation treatment dosages for cancer patients is what medical dosimetrists do for a living. Individuals interested in this profession must have a bachelor's degree in medical dosimetry or, alternatively, radiation therapy with a certificate in medical dosimetry.
Medical dosimetrists calculate effective radiation treatment doses for cancer patients, while trying to minimize side effects. Dosimetrists typically work in physicians' offices, hospitals and outpatient treatment centers. They may hold a bachelor's degree in medical dosimetry, or, if they already have a bachelor's degree in radiation therapy, they can earn a certificate in this field. Dosimetry programs generally include hands-on training in dosimetry as well as courses in anatomy, physics and radiobiology. Dosimetrists must be certified by meeting education requirements and passing an exam. Continuing education courses are required to maintain certification.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree in medical dosimetry or in radiation therapy with a certificate in medical dosimetry|
|Certification||Board certification required in all states|
|Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)*||9% for radiation therapists|
|Average Salary (2019)**||$117,595 for dosimetrists|
Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **Salary.com.
Education Requirements for Dosimetrists
Prospective dosimetrists often complete a bachelor's degree program in medical dosimetry; individuals who already have a degree in radiation therapy may enroll in a medical dosimetry certificate program. These programs often include class topics in cross-sectional anatomy, treatment plans, radiation doses, medical terminology and dosimetry physics. Many programs also require students to complete clinical experiences. These programs prepare students for dosimetrist certification.
The Medical Dosimetrist Certification Board (MDCB) sets the education prerequisites for the dosimetrist certification exam (www.mdcb.org). As these requirements are subject to change, it is important to check with the MDCB for the most up-to-date info. Requirements often include 12 months of classroom education and six months of practical training. An alternate set of requirements applies to those with bachelor's degrees or active registration with the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). These candidates must take 24 continuing education credits approved by the MDCB, during a period of 36 months of practical dosimetry experience.
In order to maintain certification, certified medical dosimetrists are required adhere to certain ethical standards and to renew certification every year. In addition, dosimetrists must complete 50 credits of continuing education classes every five years.
Career Information for Dosimetrists
Dosimetrists support physicians and oncologists in the treatment of cancer patients. They use computers, diagnostic scans and 3-D images to create a plan for administering radiation therapy to these patients. Dosimetry careers are available in several environments, from hospitals and outpatient centers to physicians' offices and cancer research clinics. Dosimetrists generally work consistent hours, during the day, but may be called in for emergencies.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in the field of radiation therapy is expected to experience a 9% growth from 2018-2028 (www.bls.gov). Rapid growth is anticipated because of a growing population of aging adults and the potential for early detection of illness and advancement in treatment methods. As of September 2019, according to Salary.com, the annual salary range for dosimetrists was between $99,708 and $118,677.
Medical dosimetrists possess extensive human anatomy and radiobiology knowledge acquired through medical dosimetry bachelor's degree or post-baccalaureate certificate programs. These professionals have also demonstrated their professional expertise by earning board certification.