Radiation therapy technicians work in hospitals and other medical settings working with radiation treatment machines. The job growth outlook for these careers is much faster than the job market as a whole and the median annual salary is about $80,000.
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Radiation therapy technicians use machines to provide radiation treatments to patients who have diseases such as cancer. They also make sure that the equipment is maintained, ensure that safety procedures are followed, monitor patients during their treatments and keep records. These professionals usually complete a certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree in radiation therapy, and possessing CPR certification is usually a prerequisite to admission to one of these programs. Graduates need to pass their state's licensure exam for radiation therapists, and they may need to become certified too.
|Required Education||Certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree in radiation therapy|
|Other Requirements||CPR certification, state licensure and radiation therapy certification|
|Projected Job Growth||14% from 2014-2024*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$80,220 annually*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Step 1: Earn Prerequisites
Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent with two years of math and two years of lab science. They must submit to a drug screening and criminal background check and show proof of current immunizations. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification is also required. Some schools may also request letters of recommendation.
Step 2: Complete Training
Radiation therapy programs are offered at many colleges in the way of certificate, associate's degree and bachelor's degree programs. The length of the program varies by level of study. Certificate programs take a year, while associate's degree programs require two years of study. Bachelor's degree programs take four years to complete.
In addition to coursework and lab studies, students complete clinical education at affiliated medical sites in the area. Completion of the program earns students their certificate or degree, and qualifies them to sit for the licensing exam. Once students pass the exam, they're eligible for entry-level positions in radiation therapy.
Step 3: Obtain Licensure and Certification
Radiation therapists are required to be licensed in many states. The requirements to obtain licensure vary by state, but many require candidates to pass a certification exam through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Radiation therapists are also required to be certified in many states; certification may also be a requirement for employment.
Certification is obtained by completing an accredited program and passing the exam. The exam consists of a written test and a practical skills test. Radiation therapists must participate in continuing education to be eligible for renewal.
Step 4: Find a Job
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), radiation therapists were expected to see an employment growth of 14% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). This increase is due to the growing elderly population. The BLS also reported the annual median wage for radiation therapists was $80,220 in May 2015. The employment and wage opportunities will vary by location and level of study.
Radiation therapy technicians must complete an accredited radiation therapy program at the certificate, associate, or bachelor level. They require licensing by the state which usually includes passing an exam after meeting the necessary education requirements.