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How to Become a Radiographic Technician

Aug 02, 2018

Learn how to become a radiographic technician. Research the job description and education requirements, and find out how to start a career in radiography.

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  • 0:00 Become a Radiographic…
  • 1:05 Step 1: Complete an…
  • 1:44 Step 2: Pass the ARRT…
  • 2:41 Step 3: Apply for…
  • 3:05 Step 4: Meet…
  • 4:26 Step 5: Consider…

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Should I Become a Radiographic Technician?

Degree Level Certificate, associate, or bachelor's degree
Degree Field Radiologic technology
Licensure and Certification Licensure required in many states; certification optional but recommended
Key Skills Attention to detail; ability to work in a team; interpersonal skills; expertise in positioning radiological equipment and in repair
Salary $58,520 (2015 average for all radiologic technologists)

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

Radiographic technicians are more commonly referred to as radiologic technologists. Radiologic technologists work under the supervision of a radiologist and complete radiologic imaging tasks as assigned by the radiologist. Radiologic technologists may also maintain imaging equipment, prepare patients for image taking and keep patient records. Technologists often stand for many hours and sometimes have to lift or move patients, so the job has some physical demands. These professionals also must follow safety measures and wear protective gear to avoid harm from radiation exposure. The demands of the position lead to rewarding earnings. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, radiologic technologists earned an average annual salary of $58,520 in May 2015. Let's take a look at the steps an aspiring radiologic technologist can take toward this career.

Step 1: Complete a Radiologic Technologist Program

To become a radiologic technologist, students must complete a radiologic technologist associate's or bachelor's degree program. The program must be approved by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology. Radiologic technologist programs include a mix of didactic classes and clinical experience. Topics covered generally include anatomy and physiology, physics, patient care, imaging procedures, and image evaluation. The program prepares people to take the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) exam to become registered radiologic technologists.

Step 2: Pass the ARRT Certification Examination

The ARRT provides certification exams for the various specialties within radiography and maintains a registry of all certified professionals. Certification is often required for employment as a radiographic technologist and state licensure.

The certification process consists of multiple steps. Candidates for certification may submit an application to take the certification exam up to three months before graduating from their radiologic technologist programs. They must meet education and ethics requirements and pass the certification exam. The certification exam is computer-based and available at testing centers across the U.S. The test consists of 220 multiple-choice questions and takes four hours to complete. Candidates generally receive their score reports within three weeks of taking the exam. Those with passing scores become ARRT-certified and can use the title Registered Technologist.

Step 3: Apply for State Licensure

Most states require radiologic technologists to be licensed. Many states that require licensure accept ARRT certification as fulfillment of licensing requirements. However, some states require candidates to take a state-specific examination. All eligible applicants should check with their state board to verify specific licensing procedures.

Step 4: Meet Continuing Education Requirements

To maintain the Registered Technologist designation, professionals must renew their registration and pay a renewal fee to the ARRT every year. This process can be completed online or can be mailed in. Every two years, Registered Technologists must submit documentation proving that they have met continuing education requirements.

Continuing education requirements can be met by completing 24 units of approved continuing education or by passing an additional examination offered by the ARRT. Passing an additional examination will enable Registered Technologists to add the new certification to their credentials. States also may require license renewal and continuing education. Professionals should be vigilant about renewing their licenses on time; penalties may apply for late renewal.

Join a Professional Organization

Organizations, such as the American Society of Radiologic Technologists, give members access to continuing education opportunities. Continuing education units earned through the ASRT are transferred directly to the ARRT. Members also receive other benefits, such as access to industry publications and job search tools and discounts on products and conference fees.

Step 5: Consider Advancement Opportunities

Radiographic professionals can pursue further education and clinical experience in order to expand their areas of expertise. For example, specialties can be developed in mammography, magnetic resonance imaging, sonography and computed tomography. Having experience in these areas may open up additional job opportunities.

Radiologic technologists also have the option of becoming radiologist assistants, who are advanced radiologic technologists who aid in patient assessment and management. Professionals wanting to pursue this path will need to complete an approved education program and clinical experience requirements and before passing an AART certification exam.

Radiographic technicians, more commonly called radiologic technologists, must hold at least an associate's degree in radiologic technology and, in most states, licensure. State licensure may require certification through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.

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