Should I Become a Radiologic Technologist?
|Degree Level||Associate's degree|
|Degree Field||Radiography or radiographic technology|
|Experience||1+ year of experience in the field|
|License and Certification||Most states require licensure; certification voluntary|
|Key Skills||Interpersonal, technical, and math skills; attention to detail; physical stamina; use of complex radiography equipment|
|Salary||$56,760 (2015 average for all radiologic technologists)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*NET Online, Online Job Postings (July to August 2015), Payscale.com (July 2015)
Radiologic technologists work in medical settings and perform x-rays to assist physicians in diagnosing medical ailments. Responsibilities include preparing patients for procedures, adjusting imaging equipment, positioning patients and shielding them from excess radiation. Many work hours may be spent standing, and technologists must take personal safety precautions when dealing with radiation. Additionally, these technologists need a skill set that includes strong attention to detail, physical stamina, and the ability to use complex radiography equipment, as well as strong interpersonal, technical, and math skills. So how much do these professionals earn? The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that radiologic technologists earned an average yearly salary of $56,760 as of May 2015. Let's take a look at the steps you might take toward a career in radiologic technology.
Step 1: Earn an Associate's Degree
While certificates in radiologic technology are available, most of these professionals hold associate's degrees in radiologic technology. An associate's degree program in radiologic technology takes two years to complete and teaches students how to produce images of patients' body parts in order to diagnose ailments and injuries. Courses generally cover topics like radiologic exposure, anatomy and physiology, radiation protection, and radiographic equipment. Students will also attend a series of clinical practicums in radiologic technology toward the end of program.
When selecting a radiologic technology program, make sure your degree program is accredited. Many states require technologists to graduate from programs accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology to qualify for licensure.
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Step 2: Complete an Internship Program
Many employers require that applicants have experience using radiology equipment. While degree programs often provide clinical practicum opportunities, students may gain additional hands-on training by pursuing internships at local hospitals or medical facilities after college. This offers graduates the opportunity to work under the supervision of an experienced radiologic technologist.
During your internship, be sure to develop your interpersonal skills. Radiologic technologists work closely with patients who are often suffering from illnesses. Some patients may experience high levels of emotional stress before an imaging procedure, so technologists must be able to calm patients' fears and keep patients still to get an accurate image.
Step 3: Obtain Licensure
For radiologic technologists, licensure is required in most states. While licensing requirements may vary by state, they often include passage of a state-administered certification exam or a certification exam administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. After becoming licensed, radiologic technologists are required to fulfill continuing education requirements to maintain licensure.
Consider Pursuing Specialty Certifications
In order to expand their career options, many radiologic technologists earn additional certification. The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists offers a range of primary certifications, such as in MRI, sonography and radiation therapy. After obtaining a primary certification, technologists can go on to earn specialized certifications in areas like breast sonography, quality management and vascular interventional radiography.
Most radiologic technologists earn an associate's degree in radiologic technology, and licensure is required in most states.