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Job Description of a Medical X-Ray Technician

Working as a medical x-ray technician requires little formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

A medical x-ray technician takes radiographic images of specific parts of a patient's body, which a physician has requested in order to make a diagnosis. They need a thorough understanding of imaging equipment and x-ray procedures and, as they are required to interact with patients, they should also have solid communication skills. A certificate or associate's degree is required to work in this field.

Essential Information

Medical x-ray technicians create x-ray images of parts of the human body using radiographic equipment, to assist in the diagnosis of medical problems. Medical x-ray technicians are often referred to as radiographers or radiologic technicians. These professionals typically need an associate's degree, and some states require licensure or certification.

Required Education Certificate or associate's degree in radiologic technology or a directly-related field
Other Requirements Licensing or certification may be required in some states; available through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT)
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 9% for radiologic technologists*
Median Salary (2015) $56,670 for radiologic technologists*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Medical X-Ray Technician Job Description

Medical x-ray technicians take radiographic images while performing a diagnostic imaging examination. During an x-ray procedure, a technician must position a patient's body in a specific manner to capture the exact image ordered by the physician. Positioning may require maneuvering, turning and lifting patients with limited mobility. The technician places the imaging equipment at the correct height and angle relative to the patient's body to produce the radiograph needed. They may take other measurements to determine the minimum effective amount of radiation needed to gather the appropriate image, and set the controls accordingly. Medical x-ray technicians need detailed knowledge of x-ray procedures and the ability to explain the procedures to a patient.

Medical x-ray techs need to be on their feet for long periods. Some medical x-ray techs work with diagnostic machines at a clinic location, while others travel to meet a patient off site. A technician may use sophisticated diagnostic equipment in vans to work outside the patient's place of residence or even at their bedside.

Radiation Protection

Medical x-ray technicians must follow regulations for protecting patients, coworkers and themselves from unnecessary exposure to radiation from the equipment and environment. Precautions to reduce the potential hazardous radiation include gloves, aprons and other shielding devices. Badges are worn to measure the radiation in a given work area, and detailed records are kept on the accumulation of radiation exposure throughout an x-ray technician's working life.

Specializations

Specialties for medical x-ray technicians include mammography, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Mammographers produce images of the breast with low-dose x-rays. CT scans and MRIs image cross sections of the body to produce a 3-dimensional image.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't provide data for radiologic technicians, but it does collect statistics about the somewhat higher-level position of radiologic technologist. As of May 2015, radiologic technologists made an annual median salary of $56,670, per the BLS. From 2014-2024, jobs for these professionals were expected to increase by 9%, faster than the national average.

Medical x-ray technicians use x-ray equipment to create images of the body's internal structures so physicians can diagnose illnesses or injuries. A certificate or associate's degree is needed to become a medical x-ray technician, and some states require x-ray technicians to hold professional licensure or certification. Jobs in this field are growing at a faster than average rate for all occupations, with the median salary at nearly $57,000 in 2015.


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