Career Definition of a Radiographer
A radiographer, also called a radiography technician or a radiologic technician, works directly with patients as part of a healthcare team to assist in diagnosing and treating a variety of ailments, from broken bones to cancer. Radiographers take x-rays and use radiation therapy to treat patients' cancerous tumors. Other duties of the radiographer are to update patients' charts, maintain equipment in the radiology lab, and follow closely all of the safety precautions necessary to the job. There are 1-year programs to earn certification as a radiography technician; however, many students and employers consider a 2 or 4-year program in radiation sciences to be preferable.
|Educational and Licensing Requirements||Associate's degree in radiation science; additional licensing varies by state|
|Job Skills||Strong communication skills, good at working within a team and attention to detail|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$58,440 (all radiologic technologists)|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)*||12% (all radiologic technologists)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The most common degree completed by those seeking a career in radiography is a 2-year associate's degree in radiation science. Coursework will include topics such as anatomy, biology and medical record keeping. Licensure laws vary by state, but most states require a board exam to be passed before a radiography technician can be licensed to practice.
A radiographer must communicate successfully with patients and their families. Therefore, patience and understanding are valuable skills. A desire to work as part of a team and the ability to follow exact instructions are also important.
Career and Economic Outlook
Radiologic technologists were to have a 12% increase in jobs from 2016 to 2026, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). While hospitals remain the largest employers of radiography technicians, clinics, dentist's offices and diagnostic imaging centers are also in need of qualified radiographers. The BLS reported the median annual income for radiologic technologists at $58,440 in 2017.
Alternative Career Options
Similar career options in this field include:
Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
There are various types of sonographers, who use imaging equipment to assess medical problems. A postsecondary certificate or associate's degree is required to work as a sonographer. Between 2016 and 2026, diagnostic medical sonographers were projected to experience a 23% increase in jobs, according to the BLS. As of May 2017, the median salary was reported as $71,410.
Cardiovascular Technologist and Technician
For this career category, the BLS reported employment growth of 10% from 2016-2026. Technologists monitor the health of patients' hearts and help diagnose medical problems, while technicians assist technologists. Technicians may become certified to use an electrocardiogram (EKG). In 2017, the BLS stated that cardiovascular technologists and technicians earned a median income of $55,270 per year.