Career Definition for a Radiology Science Professional
Job titles for radiology science professionals include radiation technologist, radiation therapist, radiographer, and radiologist just to name a few. All radiology science professionals work as part of a health care team to diagnose and treat illnesses, often cancer, with radiologic technology. Some entry-level positions may require as little as one year of study, while advanced, higher-paying positions require graduate and even post-graduate education.
|Education||High school background in science, certificate and associate degrees available, but bachelor's degree is now common|
|Job Skills||Patient interaction, dedication to training, empathy, professionalism|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$58,440 for radiologic technologists, $80,570 for radiation therapists|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)*||12% for radiologic technologists, 13% for radiation therapists|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Charting an educational course for a successful career in radiology science should begin in high school with a strong interest in science. Job opportunities are available for the student who completes a 1-year certificate program or an associate's degree program in radiation/radiologic sciences; completion of a bachelor's degree program is also common among radiation therapists. For those interested in pursuing the highest-paying jobs in radiology science, a master's degree or Ph.D. is needed. In all instances, working in radiology science requires licensure from the state in which the radiology science professional wishes to practice.
In almost every case, a career in radiology science requires interaction with people who may be experiencing pain and stress due to disease or injury. The ability to be both empathetic and professional is very important. A radiology science professional must also be dedicated to continued training in the latest medical technological advances.
Career and Economic Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the number of technologist jobs in radiology science will grow 12% from 2016-2026, which is faster than the average (www.bls.gov). Radiation therapists are expected to also see a 13% jump in employment opportunities during that time, per the BLS. While hospitals will continue to provide a large percentage of the employment opportunities available to the radiology science professional, diagnostic centers, out-patient clinics, and even dentists' offices will have jobs available, contributing to the increase in the number of open positions. The BLS reported that radiologic technologists earned a median salary of $58,440 and radiation therapists took home a median salary of $80,570 as of May 2017.
Alternative Career Options
Check out these other choices for careers in diagnostic imaging:
Nuclear Medicine Technologist
Nuclear medicine technologists conduct diagnostic imaging on patients to whom they've given radioactive drugs so that affected tissue is highlighted on the scanned image. They are responsible for patient care during the procedure, operation of the scanning machine, and maintenance of relevant records; scanned images are given to a physician for evaluation. Nuclear medicine technologists can get a job with at least an associate's degree in nuclear medicine technology. Those with a related degree in another field can complete a 1-year certificate program to meet common education requirements for employment. A license is required by some states; regulations and requirements vary by state. Professional certification is also available. Jobs for nuclear medicine technologists are expected to increase by 10% from 2016-2026, per the BLS. The median salary of nuclear medicine technologists was $75,660 in 2017, according to the BLS.
Cardiac sonographers, also called echocardiographers, create diagnostic images of the heart, called echocardiograms, with special instruments that use sound waves. A minimum of an associate's degree and professional certification is generally required for employment. The BLS predicts that jobs in this and related fields will increase 10% from 2016-2026. The BLS also reports that median pay for cardiac technologists and technicians, including cardiac sonographers, was $55,270 in 2017.