Radiologic technologist programs teach students to use X-ray machines to obtain internal images of the body that are used to diagnose and treat medical conditions. Those interested in this field can enroll in medical radiography certificate and diploma programs.
Many certificate programs are designed for students who already have a degree, but need to complete courses required for American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification. These programs take a year of study. Students gain real-world clinical experiences at a health care facility. Applicants must have an associate's degree and should have completed coursework in biology, mathematics and physiology.
Diploma programs take 1-2 years to complete and require taking general education courses in addition to radiography training. For admission, a high school diploma or GED certificate is necessary. Many community colleges offering clinical courses require incoming students to undergo a criminal background check and drug screen. They also require documentation of recent immunization records, vaccinations, and TB skin tests.
For both program types, courses are available online.
Certificate in Radiography
A certificate in radiography prepares individuals to sit for the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification examination and become radiologic technologists or radiographers in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
Most programs include courses that meet the national curriculum requirements of the American Society of Radiologic Technologists. They are designed to introduce students to radiography and how to use it to perform diagnostic medical tests. Students enrolled in a radiography certificate program spend classroom hours studying characteristics of radiation, radiation biology, and radiographic pathology, and medical terminology. They also spend laboratory and clinical hours learning how to operate radiographic imaging equipment, prepare patients for diagnostic examinations, and execute proper safety measures. Specific courses include:
- Principles and patient care in radiography
- Imaging and radiologic equipment
- Human anatomy and physiology
- Medical terminology and image analysis
- Radiographic pathology
- Clinical practicum
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Diploma in Radiography
Diploma programs are available at community colleges and technical schools. They take 1-2 years to complete and include more general education courses than certificate programs. Core concepts of radiography imaging and radiography safety remain the same, as do topics covered in clinical rotations. They feature additional technical elective courses. A sampling of courses found in a radiography diploma program include:
- Medical terminology and imaging equipment
- Introduction to radiography
- Radiography and patient care
- Basic computed tomography (CT)
- Radiation pathology and protection
- Clinical practicum
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were roughly 195,590 radiologic technologists working in 2015 (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported that these workers earned $56,670 as a median annual wage at that time. Employment in the field is predicted to rise by 9% between 2014 through 2024, according to the BLS.
Certification and Licensure
Students must pass an ARRT-approved program in radiography or radiology before they are eligible to sit for certification from the organization. Most states also have additional licensing requirements for radiologic technologists. They often require professionals in the field to gain licensure to prove that they understand the safety protocols that are necessary when working with radiation.
Medical radiography certificate and diploma programs teach students about concepts such as human science, medical vocabulary, equipment operation, protection procedures and test interpretation. Both include traditional courses and experiences in the field.