Radiology Assistant: Education Needed to Start a Career in Radiology

Radiology assistants require some formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and certification requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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Radiology assistants must complete an associate's degree, certification through ARRT, and state licensure to be employed in this career field. The projected growth rate of 9% through 2024 is faster than average which means that qualified candidates pursuing a career as a radiology assistant should be able to find employment in the field.

Essential Information

Radiology assistants are advanced, certified technologists who aid radiologists in the diagnostic imaging process. While radiology assistants do not formulate diagnoses, they execute basic radiologic practices, such as imaging procedures, patient evaluations and diagnostic image assessments. Becoming a radiology assistant entails formal training, professional certification and, in some states, licensure.

Required Education Associate's degree
Other Requirements Certification through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists; licensure depending on state
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 9% (radiologic and MRI technologists)
Median Salary (2015)* $58,120 (radiologic and MRI technologists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Radiology Assistant Education Requirements

Radiology assistants are required to hold post-secondary degrees from radiology assistant training programs approved by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). To gain admission into a radiology assistant degree program, candidates must first become ARRT-certified radiographers. Becoming a radiographer typically entails completion of an approved associate's degree program, though certificate and bachelor's degree programs in radiography are also available. Certification candidates must also pass a qualifying exam.

Radiology Assistant Degree Program

Radiology assistants may gain formal training through radiology assistant bachelor's or graduate degree programs. Master of Science in Radiologist Assistant programs, for example, consist of two years of post-baccalaureate coursework in classroom and clinical settings. Courses may include radiology procedures, pharmacology, patient assessment, pathology, image evaluation and patient management. Radiology assistant programs also incorporate clinical practicums through which students gain hands-on training under the supervision of licensed radiologists.

Radiology Assistant Certification

After completing formal training, radiology assistants must obtain the Registered Radiologist Assistant (RRA) credential offered by the ARRT. To be eligible for this certification, radiology assistants must be previously certified in radiography, complete one year of clinical radiography experience and have a clean criminal record. They must also complete a radiologist assistant degree program that meets the ARRT's didactic and clinical requirements. Candidates must then pass a certification exam that covers six occupational topics, including radiology procedures, safety and law. RRAs must earn 50 continuing education credits every two years to maintain certification.

Radiology Assistant Licensure

Depending on the state of practice, radiology assistants may also be required to obtain licensure. The American Society of Radiologic Technologists reported some states require radiology assistants to hold state licensure. Licensing requirements vary by state; however, states typically comply with ARRT certification standards. For example, Wyoming, Maryland and Illinois all require licensure candidates to pass the ARRT certification exam.

Salary and Career Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide career information on radiology assistants, but it does cover the occupation of radiologic technologists. The BLS estimates a 9% job growth for radiologic technologists between 2014-2024. In May 2015, radiologic technologists earned $58,120 as a median annual wage.

Most radiology assistants work in hospitals; however, the highest-paying jobs in the field are with commercial and industrial equipment leasing and rental companies, in management or in specialized hospitals such as psychiatric hospitals. The job prospects for radiology assistants are currently strong and projected to remain at 9% through 2024.

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