Career Definition for a Medical Dosimetrist
After a radiation oncologist prescribes a radiation dosage for a patient, a medical dosimetrist plans a course of treatment to deliver that dosage. He or she calculates doses, makes molds or casts if necessary, and documents patients' treatment plans. Medical dosimetrists also work with medical physicists to ensure accurate measurements.
|Education||Diploma, associate, or bachelor's degrees available|
|Certification||Credentials issued through the Medical Dosimetrist Certification Board|
|Job Skills||Critical thinking, problem solving, quality assurance|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$80,570 (radiation therapists)|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)*||13% (radiation therapists)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Medical dosimetrists typically complete a diploma, associate's or bachelor's degree program in medical dosimetry or a related field from a school that's been accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology. These programs take 2-5 years to complete and may include courses in radiation safety, radiological imaging, physiology, radiobiology, and anatomy. Some hospitals also offer on-the-job training in medical dosimetry through their radiation oncology departments.
All prospective medical dosimetrists must earn certification from the Medical Dosimetrist Certification Board. This professional certification must be renewed annually.
Medical dosimetrists must possess critical thinking, problem-solving, and quality assurance skills to ensure proper treatment of patients and correct calculation of radiation dosages. They also must be knowledgeable about radiation safety.
Medical dosimetrists can expect to see their field expand as the U.S. population ages, according to the American Association of Medical Dosimetrists. Also, the fields of radiology and medical dosimetry are constantly changing, which could lead to new job opportunities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies medical dosimetrists under the career title radiation therapists and predicts that radiation therapists will see employment growth of 13% from 2016-2026. The BLS reported the median salary for radiation therapists as $80,570 in 2017.
Alternate Career Options
Consider these other options in the field of radiologic healthcare:
Nuclear Medicine Technologist
Nuclear medicine technologists prepare and administer special drugs to patients and then conduct diagnostic scans where abnormal tissues in the body will be highlighted. These workers explain to patients what's going to happen, and they ensure that diagnostic machines are working properly. Nuclear medicine technologists give test results to doctors for review and diagnosis. An associate's degree in nuclear technology is the minimum education required for employment; bachelor's degree programs are also available. State licensing is sometimes required. Employers may require professional certification. Jobs in this field are expected to increase by 10% from 2016-2026, per the BLS. This occupation paid a median salary of $75,660 in 2017, reported the agency.
A radiologic technologist operates x-ray and computed tomography (CT) machines that produce diagnostic images to be read by physicians for diagnosis. Radiologic technologists position patients for their scans and ensure that they understand the process. They also ensure that diagnostic machinery is in good working order. Aspiring radiologic technologists can earn an associate's degree, bachelor's degree or graduate certificate in radiologic technology. Licensing and certification requirements may apply in some states. The BLS predicts that jobs will increase 12% from 2016-2026, and that radiologic technologist jobs paid a median salary of $58,440 in 2017.