Health Diagnostics Technologist: Job Description & Career Info

Learn what a health diagnostics technologist does. Get the details about the required education and training, and see what the career outlook is for this job.

Career Definition for a Health Diagnostics Technologist

'Health diagnostics technologist' can refer to a number of medical specialists, but typically describes someone who works in medical imaging. This includes everything from taking X-rays to performing mammograms, MRIs or CT scans. Duties typical to all health diagnostic technologies careers include explaining procedures and preparing patients for imaging, following physicians' instructions, taking precautionary safety measures, labeling labs and scans, and keeping detailed patient records. Health diagnostics technologists work in various medical disciplines, such as radiology, oncology, cardiology, and neurology.

Education Training programs available in hospitals and vocational schools
Job Skills Technical skills, knowledge of anatomy, quick learning, new skill application
Median Salary (2017)* As high as $75,660 (nuclear medicine technologists), and as low as $55,270 (cardiovascular technologists and technicians)
Job Growth (2016-2026)* As high as 23% (diagnostic medical sonographers), and as low as 10% (nuclear medicine technologists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Required

Health diagnostics technologists usually complete a training program through a hospital or vocational school. These programs train health diagnostics technologists in a specific field, such as nuclear diagnostics, and can take from a few months to two years to complete. Courses may include anatomy, physiology, and diagnostic imaging. Some health diagnostics technologists must take certification exams and be licensed by the state where they work.

Skills Required

Health diagnostic technologists must have the technical skills needed to operate various computers and imaging equipment. They also must be knowledgeable about anatomy. As technology improves medical imaging, health diagnostic technologists must be able to quickly learn and apply new skills.

Career and Economic Outlook

Health diagnostic technologist jobs are expected to expand in number in the coming years as the medical community relies more on imaging, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). The more areas in which a health diagnostics technologist has training, the more job opportunities are likely to be available to him or her. The career outlook and 2017 median salary for health diagnostic technologists can vary by area of specialty.

According to the BLS, the rate of employment growth from 2016-2026 is expected to be 23% for diagnostic medical sonographers, 10% for cardiovascular technologists and technicians, 10% for nuclear medicine technologists, 14% for MRI technologists, and 12% for radiologic technologists. In 2017, per the BLS, diagnostic medical sonographers earned median pay of $71,410; cardiovascular technologists and technicians earned $55,270; nuclear medicine technologists earned $75,660; MRI technologists earned $69,630; and radiologic technologists earned $58,440.

Alternate Career Options

Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologist

Medical and clinical lab techs can perform a variety of testing and analytical processes on biological lab samples like blood, urine or tissue, usually per the orders of a doctor. Responsibilities typically include preparing samples, setting up and using advanced lab equipment, and recording and reporting results. There are several areas of specialty, including cytotechnology, immunology, microbiology, and molecular biology. Medical and clinical lab techs have a bachelor's degree in medical technology. State licensing is sometimes required, and professional certification is also sometimes required, either for state licensure or by prospective employers.

The BLS predicts that jobs in this field will increase 12% from 2016-2026, a rate that's better than the average. The median salary was $61,070 in 2017, and the states with the greatest number of jobs in this field in that same year were Texas, California, New York, Florida, and Pennsylvania.

Radiation Therapist

Radiation therapists prepare patients for treatment, ensure patient safety, and operate specialized machinery that delivers radiation to specific areas of the body to treat conditions like cancer. Radiation therapists typically earn an associate's degree or bachelor's degree in radiation therapy and earn state licensing, where required. Professional certification is available and is also sometimes required by states as part of their licensing requirements. Jobs in this field are expected to increase by 13% from 2016-2026, according to the BLS; this is a better than average rate. The BLS also reports that the 2017 median pay for this job was $80,570, with the states where the greatest number of radiation therapists were employed being New York, California, Florida, Illinois, and Texas.


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