Radiographers, or radiologic technicians, use x-rays and other imaging equipment in order to create images of internal organs and tissues for medical diagnostics. Many schools offer associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs in radiography and imaging. Some programs offer online learning for working professionals. After completing an accredited program, graduates may need to become licensed to find employment, though requirements vary by state; certification is voluntary, though many radiographers choose to pursue it. The bachelor's program is four years long and requires a high school diploma or GED, a background in physics, chemistry, biology and math, and there may be immunization requirements as well as age restrictions.
Associate of Science in Radiologic Technology
An associate's degree program in radiography trains students to provide basic patient preparation, radiologic examinations, equipment operations and safety procedures. Associate's degrees typically take two years to earn, and many schools meet the guidelines required for optional certification by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Most radiography programs allow students to participate in clinical rounds at a campus clinic or local area hospital to gain practical experience.
Didactic instruction and clinical experiences are both utilized in radiography training programs. Students learn to identify and use imaging equipment, as well as practice regulated safety procedures. Specific classroom topics could include:
- Radiologic physics
- Anatomy and body positioning
- Invasive and non-invasive procedures
- Patient care and assessment
- Sectional anatomy
Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Sciences
Baccalaureate programs in radiography are offered in a variety of formats, including comprehensive, 4-year programs, degree completion options and online learning alternatives. The length of degree completion programs vary based on previous credit earned in the field. Most schools include clinical practicums, observational rotations or work co-ops for radiography students to receive hands-on learning for several types of imaging procedures.
Degree completion programs require prior coursework in radiographic technology or an associate's degree in the field, as well as completion of general education courses.
Major coursework covers imaging procedural, safety and classification topics. Students learn to identify and use different types of imaging equipment. Radiography topics in core and elective courses include:
- Therapeutic imagery
- Computed tomography
- Medical ethics
Popular Career Options
Hospitals, private physicians, schools, outpatient clinics and many health care institutions employ radiography specialists. Graduates of bachelor's programs can specialize in a particular procedure or offer multiple imaging services. A few job options include:
- Imaging technician
- Radiologic technologist
- CT technician
- MRI specialist
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), radiologic technologists are expected to experience a 9% growth in employment between 2014 and 2024. The BLS stated that those certified in more than one type of imaging procedure could increase their employment potential. As of May 2015, the BLS reported a median wage of $56,670 per year for radiologic technologists.
The ARRT certification process requires completion of an accredited program and a standard examination (www.arrt.org). ARRT-certified radiologic technologists must earn at least 24 continuing education hours every two years in order to keep their certification valid. Federal regulations require that states ensure radiography professionals receive adequate training and perform safe imaging practices. Many states require licensure or registration for the profession, and some accept ARRT certification testing in lieu of a state examination.
A radiography degree trains students in imaging and radiology, among other aspects. Graduates can become CT technicians, MRI specialists, and other types of imaging professionals.