Career Definition for a Radiographic Imaging Assistant
A radiographic imaging assistant, often called a radiologic assistant, is a radiologic technologist who has obtained advanced training and works under the supervision of a radiologist. Radiographic imaging assistants have many of the same duties as technologists, though they possess more specialized knowledge and play a bigger role in patient treatment. Radiologic assistants may also do preliminary analysis of images and have research duties.
Assistants may use ionizing radiation, or x-rays, to image the bones and organ systems of patients for diagnostic purposes. Imaging assistants may explain the procedures, prep patients and perform exams. In addition to x-rays, a radiographic imaging assistant can specialize in other imaging procedures, like computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), fluoroscopy or mammography.
They often stand for extended periods and balance large caseloads. Workers in this field are mostly found in hospitals, but there is a growing demand for radiographic skills in private physician's offices and other medical facilities.
|Required Education||A bachelor's degree in radiologic technology followed by a master's degree in radiologic assisting|
|Job Skills||Knowledge of ionizing radiation or x-rays; interpersonal skills, compassion, physical stamina|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$58,440 (radiologic technologists)|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)*||12% growth (radiologic technologists)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
First, one must become a radiologic technologist. Since radiologic assistant programs are offered at the master's level, a bachelor's degree in radiologic technology may be the most useful to prospective radiographic imaging assistants. Certification in radiography through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) and some experience in the field are also required to enter a master's degree program.
Master's degree programs in radiologic assisting may include courses and clinical training in advanced imaging procedures for musculoskeletal, lymphatic and neurological systems, as well as classes in image critique, patient assessment and patient education. Certification as a Registered Radiologic Assistant (RRA) is available through the ARRT, which requires completion of an approved program and passage of a certification exam. Continuing education is required.
Because managing patient care is a major duty of radiologic assistants, interpersonal skills and compassion are important. Assistants should have a degree of physical stamina, since it may be necessary to lift or assist patients into position for a procedure.
Career Growth and Economic Projections
While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't have statistics for radiographic imaging assistants, it provides data for radiologic technologists, who are expected to have a faster than average job growth at a rate of about 12% from 2016-2026. There will be increased demand and increased opportunity for career advancement as the population ages and technology becomes cheaper. The median annual salary was $58,440 in 2017 (www.bls.gov).
Looking for an alternative career option? Here are some examples:
Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
For those who are interested in medical imaging but do not want to pursue the amount of education a radiographic imaging assistant needs, a career in diagnostic medical sonography may be the right fit. Medical sonographers use ultrasound technology to capture images of internal organs, bones and body system components. They prepare the patient for the procedure, take pictures, record detailed notes of observations and make sure equipment is operating properly. Most people can find employment in this occupation with an associate degree or certificate in sonography technology, and many employers prefer to hire workers with professional certification. Based on BLS statistics from 2017, diagnostic medical sonographers earned a median yearly wage of $71,410. The BLS also predicts a huge 23% increase in employment of these imaging professionals between 2016 and 2026.
Nuclear Medicine Technologist
Although nuclear medical technologists perform many duties similar to a radiography imaging assistant, they focus more on the administration of radioactive drugs to take pictures of internal structures. They also operate computerized equipment, monitor reactions to the drugs and keep accurate accounts of what is done. An associate degree in nuclear medicine technology is the minimum requirement for entry into this field, although some workers with a related health degree complete a certificate program in the specialty. Many states also require licensure of nuclear medicine technologists. According to BLS projections, these professionals should expect to see a 10% increase in job opportunities from 2016-2026 and should receive annual median compensation in the amount of $75,660, as estimated by the BLS in 2017.