Requirements for Aspiring X-Ray Technologists

Jun 15, 2021

X-ray technicians are health care professionals who use radiological technology to help diagnose patients for various injuries and ailments. They will always have a certificate or degree in either radiology or radiological technologies and need state licensure to work in most states. Professional certification, obtained by passing an exam, is required by many employers.

Essential Information

X-ray technicians, more commonly called radiologic technologists, perform diagnostic tests that utilize radiation (x-rays) on patients in various healthcare settings. Techs must be able to follow orders with precision, communicate effectively with patients about the procedure, position patients, and set controls on machines to produce adequate-quality images and results. Certificate, associate's and bachelor's degree programs in radiology or radiologic technology are available, and certification and state licensure are required by most employers.

Required Education Accredited certificate or degree program; associate's degree programs are the most common
Licensure & Certification National certification & state licensure requirements vary by state
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) 7% for all radiologic technologists*
Annual Average Salary (2020) $64,840 for all radiologic technologists*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Requirements for Becoming an X-Ray Technologist

Education Requirements

Many 2-year colleges and technical schools offer certificate and associate's degree programs in radiologic technology and radiology. These programs prepare aspiring x-ray technologists for entry-level diagnostic imaging jobs. Though less common, some 4-year college programs offer bachelor's degrees, which provide advanced radiologic technician training as well as a broader general education. Formal training programs may also be available through hospitals and clinics.

To gain entrance into an X-ray technology program, candidates must generally pass a health exam and criminal background check, hold a high school diploma or its equivalent and successfully complete prerequisite biology and English courses. X-ray technology programs typically stress radiographic procedures, effective communication and critical thinking skills. Required coursework may include radiographic principles, patient care, general psychology and advanced math.

Most programs also include a supervised clinical practicum, which allows students to improve their skills and apply learned techniques. X-ray technologists may also pursue advanced coursework specializing in various areas of radiography and diagnostic medical imaging, including computed tomography (CT) scans, sonography, mammography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Career Requirements

Certification

Voluntary certification is offered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) and is available to candidates who have completed a program accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology. To earn certification, candidates must pass an exam and agree to comply with all ARRT rules, regulations and standards of ethics. Every year, to maintain certification, candidates must complete continuing education courses and pay registration fees. Many states use ARRT certification as their mandatory licensing standard.

Licensure

In order to practice in most states, X-ray technologists need to be licensed through the state's licensing authority. Licensing procedures vary by state, but typically include passing an exam, submitting test scores from the ARRT exam and paying a fee. Many states grant licenses for a limited term of one or two years and require license renewal within a specified timeframe. Renewal procedures may include additional testing and the completion of continuing education credits for a mandatory number of hours.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

In May 2020, the BLS reported that radiologic technologists, including x-ray technologists in the 90th percentile or higher earned $92,660 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $42,180 or less per year. Additionally, the BLS predicted radiologic technologist jobs to increase faster than the average through 2029., partly due to a growing elderly population requiring more diagnostic testing and imaging.

Much like their title implies, x-ray technicians are health care professionals who use x-ray machines to help physicians diagnose patients. While applicants need a college degree or certificate in radiology and radiologic technology, they may also receive voluntary certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. These postsecondary education programs can last between two to four years and will prepare individuals for working with x-ray, CT scans and MRIs.

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