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Radiology Assistant Training Program and Career Information

Sep 14, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a radiology assistant. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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Radiology assistants are radiologic technologists with more advanced education, training and knowledge. In their work, they may use technology to generate images such as X-rays or sonographs. In addition to a bachelor's degree, aspiring radiology assistants need to complete a graduate program in the field, earn certification and, in some states, be licensed to practice.

Essential Information

Radiology assistants are an advanced type of radiologic technologist. Individuals employed as radiology assistants might perform many imaging procedures or specialize in a specific technology, such as x-ray or sonography. To become a radiology assistant, candidates must complete a bachelor's degree program in a field such as radiologic technology or biology, followed by a specialized radiology assistant program; these programs often culminate in a master's degree. Certification is also required, as well as licensure in some states.

Required Education Bachelor's degree plus completion of a graduate radiology assistant program
Certification and Licensure Certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) is needed to enroll in a radiology assistant program; certification as a Registered Radiologist Assistant (RRA) is available for graduates; some states license this position, and ARRT certification is typically required for licensure
Job Growth (2018-2028)* 9% for all radiologic technologists
Median Salary (2018)* $59,520 for all radiologic technologists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Radiology Assistant Training Programs

Individuals working as radiology assistants are more advanced and experienced than other radiologic technologists. Aspiring radiology assistants must begin by earning a bachelor's degree. Students can earn undergraduate degrees in various related subjects, such as radiologic technology and biology. Courses that prepare students for careers in this field might include chemistry, anatomy and physiology. After graduation, students can pursue certification as radiologic technologists from the ARRT, which is a non-governmental professional organization that independently monitors education and member standards in the radiologic technology field.

Following their bachelor's degree and technologist certification, graduates need to complete a specialized radiology assistant program that's recognized by the ARRT. Most radiology assistant programs lead to a master's degree, and they combine lectures and discussions with substantial clinical work with various populations, such as pediatric and geriatric patients. After completing a radiology assistant program and accumulating at least one year of clinical experience in the field, candidates can pursue certification as a Registered Radiologist Assistant (RRA) from the ARRT.

Certification and Licensure Information

In addition to completing the education and experience requirements outlined above, prospective RRAs must pass an ethics evaluation and a computer-based examination. The exam is 7 hours long and includes both multiple-choice and case study questions.

Some states also license radiologic technologists and radiology assistants. Requirements vary by state, but most states piggyback their licensure on ARRT certification; therefore, most certified candidates are qualified for state licensure.

Career Information for Radiology Assistants

Radiology assistant is still a relatively new position, so the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not yet provide career data for these professionals. However, it does offer statistics for radiologic technologists, who are closely related. Technologists earned a median annual salary of $59,520 as of May 2018. The data shows that the lowest-paid ten percent made $40,630 or less at that time, while the highest-paid ten percent brought in $86,350 or more per year. The highest annual wages were earned by radiologic technologists working for scientific research and development services, as well as those in management of companies and enterprises.

Employment Outlook

Data from the BLS indicates substantial growth in the years ahead for occupations related to radiologic technology. From 2018-2028, the total number of jobs for radiologic technologists is expected to increase faster than the average by 9%, according to the BLS. As a large aging population grows and remains more active than previous generations, the need for care related to bone breaks and fractures will necessitate the use of diagnostic imaging, allowing for greater opportunities for those assisting with equipment.

Before beginning work, a radiology assistant must have a bachelor's degree, complete an accredited training program (most culminate in a master's degree), pass an exam and gain certification. Some states require licensure. Once working, radiology assistants use technology to take images of patients, such as X-rays, that a physician may then use to diagnose or treat a patient.

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