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Hospital X-Ray Technologist: Job & Career Information

Explore the job duties of a hospital x-ray technologist. Learn about educational requirements, licensure, employment outlook and salary to make the right choice for you.

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Career Definition for a Hospital X-Ray Technologist

Hospital x-ray technologists work in hospital diagnostic departments, performing x-rays that are used to diagnose various medical conditions. Hospital x-ray technologists explain procedures to patients and position them for scans. They also develop x-ray film. Hospital x-ray technologists must be careful to avoid radiation exposure for themselves and their patients.

Required Education Certificate, associate's, or bachelor's degree
Necessary Skills Empathy, safety, technology
Median Salary (2015)* $56,670 for radiologic and MRI technicians
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 9% for radiologic and MRI technicians

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements

Prospective hospital x-ray technologists typically earn a certificate from a technical or vocational school or pursue an associate's or bachelor's degree in x-ray or radiologic technology. Most states require hospital x-ray technologists to be licensed because of the danger of radiation exposure in their profession. Voluntary professional certification is available through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (www.arrt.org).

Skills Required

Hospital x-ray technologists must be sensitive to their patients' questions and concerns since patients may be nervous about radiation exposure. Hospital x-ray technologists also must be safety-oriented and have the technical skills to correctly position both patient and camera to get clear and correct images.

Economic Outlook

Hospital x-ray technologists, also known as radiologic and MRI technologists, are expected to experience career growth of 9% from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). This increase is the result of an aging population that requires more medical services. The median annual salary for a hospital x-ray technologist was $56,670 in May 2015, per the BLS.

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Alternative Careers

Some skills necessary to become a hospital x-ray technologist will help prepare you for careers in other areas.

Nuclear Medicine Technologist

Although both professions capture images of the human body, nuclear medicine technologists administer radioactive drugs that enhance the view of internal structures. They also operate and maintain more advanced imaging equipment and computer systems used in the diagnosis of disease and injury. To gain employment in this field, an associate degree in nuclear medicine technology or a related field is the minimum requirement, and many pursue a bachelor's degree to compete with other job seekers. Some states require licensure, and professional certification is often desired by employers. In May of 2015, the BLS reported that nuclear medicine technologists earned an average salary of $73,360. They also expect 2% growth in employment between 2014 and 2024.

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

For those who are interested in capturing images through the use of ultrasound equipment, a career in diagnostic medical sonography is a career possibility. A sonographer prepares the patient for the procedure, records images using an ultrasound wand and takes detailed notes on what is observed. An undergraduate degree in sonography is generally required, but those already working in a health field such as nursing can often enter the field with a certificate and training. A small number of states require licensure, and obtaining professional certification is a significant advantage when looking for employment. According to the BLS, a 24% increase in jobs for diagnostic medical sonographers is projected during the 2014-2024 decade. These professionals received an average yearly wage of $68,970 in 2015, as stated by the BLS.

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