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Mammographer: Employment Info & Requirements

Mar 17, 2019

Mammographers, or radiologic technologists and technicians, work with patients and operate the equipment that produces images of breasts for medical diagnosis and detection of problems. Read on to learn about the training, skills, salary and employment outlook for this profession, and alternative career options.

Career Definition for a Mammographer

A mammographer has a very important role in the lives of women. Using low-dose x-rays, mammographers image breasts to help physicians look for or track the progress of cancer or benign growths and determine treatment. Technicians will explain the process to patients, position them as comfortably as possible, perform the test and report test results to the physician. The majority of mammographers work in a hospital setting, but positions in private physician's offices and other healthcare facilities are becoming more frequent. A 40-hour work week is usual, but this may include weekends and holidays. With widespread need for mammography, workers in this area can often select where they would most like to live.

Required Education An accredited associate's or bachelor's degree in radiology; certificates available, but employers prefer candidates with formal training
Job Duties Using low-dose x-rays to image breasts, helping physicians look for or track the progress of growths, explaining the process to patients
Median Salary (2017)* $58,440 (radiologic technologists)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 12% growth (radiologic technologists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Required

A 2-year associate's degree or 4-year bachelor's degree in an accredited radiology program is typically required for employment as a mammographer. One-year certifications are available but are typically reserved for those already working in healthcare, and most employers do prefer formal radiology training. The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) registration exam, which is honored in most states, is required for all mammographers; a state license will also be necessary in some states. Additionally, the FDA only recognizes mammographers who are certified by the ARRT and/or the American Registry of Clinical Radiography Technologists.

Additional Skills Required

Mammographers should be sensitive to their patients' feelings and be aware that the exam can be a difficult and uncomfortable or painful experience. Patients will be from various age groups, so the technician must be able to work with different types of people.

Economic Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for radiologic technologists, which include mammographers, are expected to grow 12% from 2016-2026, which is above the average for job growth. With the increasing age of women in America, demand for the procedure will continue to rise. Median earnings for radiologic technologists were $58,440 in 2017 (www.bls.gov).

Alternate Career Options

Here are some examples of alternative career options:

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

After earning an associate's degree, bachelor's degree or postsecondary certificate, in addition to certification required by some employers, these professionals use sound wave images to assess and diagnose medical conditions. Much faster than average employment growth of 23% was anticipated by the BLS for sonographers from 2016-2026. According to the BLS, they earned a median annual salary of $71,410 in 2017.

Radiation Therapist

Radiation therapists normally earn associate's or bachelor's degrees and are required to be licensed in most states, the BLS reports. These therapists treat cancer and other diseases with radiation treatments in treatment centers and hospitals. The BLS projected faster than average employment growth of 13% from 2016-2026 and reported a median annual income of $80,570 in 2017.

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