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Radiation Oncology Technician: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a radiation oncology technician. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and licensing to find out if this is the career for you.

Oncology involves the study and treatment of tumors. A radiation oncology technician provides radiation therapy treatment for cancer patients. These technicians monitor patients and ensure proper dosage is being administered.

Essential Information

Radiation oncology technicians administer radiation therapy treatments to cancer patients. Technologists work one-on-one with patients to ensure proper treatment dosage and monitor patients during treatment. Individuals interested in this career will need to earn an undergraduate degree in radiography as well as a certificate in radiation therapy. State licensing is needed in the majority of states, and a few require certification as well.

Required Education Associate's or bachelor's degree in radiography and a certificate in radiation therapy
Other Requirements Most states require licensing; some states and most employers mandate certification by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT)
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 14% for radiation therapists*
Median Annual Salary (2015) $80,220 for radiation therapists*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

Radiation oncology technicians work as part of an oncology team to treat cancer patients with repeated targeted doses of radiation. The team usually includes the patient's primary doctor, a radiation oncologist, a medical physicist and a dosimetrist. Technicians see patients daily for a period of four to six weeks and are often the most visible and accessible member of the oncology treatment team.

Career and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs for radiation therapists is expected to grow 14% from 2014-2024, which is faster than the average predicted for all occupations (www.bls.gov). In 2015, the agency reported that radiation therapists earned a median annual salary of $80,220.

Duties

A radiation oncology technician administers radiation therapy to patients according to a doctor's specific instructions. A technician is responsible for positioning the patient and adjusting the machines to ensure proper dosage. The technician operates the radiation therapy machinery safely from another room and monitors the patient's condition during treatment.

Technicians are trained to evaluate the patient's well-being during treatment. Technicians also might be required to offer emotional support to patients during treatments.

Additionally, technicians keep detailed records of treatments for each patient, noting the dosage, the area targeted by treatment and the patient's reaction to treatment. Technicians also ensure therapy machines are working properly.

Requirements

Most technologists first complete an associate's or bachelor's degree program in radiography, then go on to finish a year-long certificate program in radiation therapy. More than 30 states require technicians to be licensed, and many jobs require certification. Some states require technicians to pass the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification exam. Many employers also require technicians to be certified by AART. This certification process requires candidates to complete an accredited radiation therapy program, adhere to ARRT's ethical standards, pass a certification exam and demonstrate their abilities in clinical practices.

Radiation oncology technicians give patients radiation treatment. They monitor while radiation is being administered and are responsible for ensuring patients receive proper dosages.


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