Becoming a Radiology Specialist
So you think you might like to become a radiology specialist. . .
Radiology specialists, also known as radiology technicians, maintain imaging equipment, take images using computerized equipment, evaluate radiographs, communicate with physicians, and keep records. Radiology specialists can also work with more advanced machines for diagnostic purposes, such as magnetic resonance imaging (or MRI) or computerized tomography (or CT) machines. Most radiology specialists work in hospitals, clinics, diagnostic labs, or group or private physicians' offices. Those who pursue this career in the military spend their careers between U.S. military medical facilities and temporary shelters crafted in the field. Following important precautions, such as the use of protective coverings, is imperative when working near radiation.
So what are the career requirements?
|Degree Level||Associate's degree; military techs require high school diploma and be enlisted in the US Army or National Guard|
|Certification||Vary by state: military candidates are required to pass a comprehensive US Army radiology specialist course and upon completion is awarded the MOS 68P certification|
|Experience||Entry level; the US Army provides intensive hands-on training through courses, lectures, and clinical experiences|
|Key Skills||Knowledge of basic radiography principles and working with radiation; ability to read and interpret radiographic films; familiarity in operating and maintaining computerized radiology equipment; ability to assemble and disassemble equipment; interpersonal skills and physical stamina|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$58,120 (for radiologic and MRI technicians)|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Payscale.com
Step One: Degree or Training
To work in the private sector, you'll need to complete a certificate or 2-year degree program from an accredited institution. Degrees can be obtained in radiologic technology or radiography and are offered at community and technical colleges. Courses are generally taken in anatomy and physiology, cross-sectional anatomy, patient positioning, radiology pathology, and patient care.
Military personnel in this field must register for the Radiology Specialist Course. This course is designed to provide enlisted personnel with the working knowledge of radiography necessary to perform in the field of duty. The first phase of the course, which lasts 24 weeks, introduces students to basic radiography principles, such as exposure, protection, imaging, and film processing. Soldiers learn how to evaluate radiographs and ensure quality imaging. Phase two lasts 22 weeks and consists of mostly clinical training. This hands-on training consists of work under the supervision of a qualified radiographer at a U.S. Army medical facility.
Step Two: Obtain Certification
Completing an accredited radiologic technology program satisfies an eligibility requirement of the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (or AART) to sit for a state licensing exam. Licensing requirements for radiologic specialists vary from state to state. MRI technologists must generally be certified and registered to work in the field.
Upon completion of both phases of the military training, a graduate is awarded MOS 68P certification. After a person's military career, the training course meets all education requirements for a civilian job and licensing, though state licensure is still required.
Step Three: Gain Work Experience
Civilian radiologic specialists typically complete clinical studies in a certificate or degree program and once they have obtained licensure or certification, radiologic technicians or MRI technologists can be hired to assume the duties of this position in an appropriate healthcare setting.
While enlisted as an Army radiology specialist, individuals will be granted the opportunity to use the newly acquired knowledge and skills in the field. This type of experience will include reading and interpreting radiographic films, operating and maintaining radiology equipment, assembling and disassembling equipment and shelters, performing patient examinations, and working with radiation.
Step Four: Pursue Continued Education
Radiology specialists can use continued education courses to increase their chances of employment and career advancement. Each state dictates how many continuing medical education (or CME) credits are required per year in order to continue practicing as a radiology specialist. These continuing education courses are especially important for radiology specialists, as this field is constantly evolving due to its close relationship with advanced technology.
Complete a degree program or training, get certified, gain experience, and pursue continued education are the steps to follow to make the most of a career as a radiology specialist.