Salary and Career Info for a Basic X-Ray Machine Operator

Sep 21, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a basic x-ray machine operator. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

Basic x-ray machine operators typically work in doctors' offices, clinics, hospitals, or medical labs. They can prepare for their career by completing an associate's degree in radiologic technology, and should have an affinity for math and science.

Essential Information

Basic x-ray machine operators, also known as radiologic technologists or radiographers, operate medical diagnostic machines that take internal, anatomical images of the body. They work under the supervision of a radiologist and assist physicians and other healthcare providers. Basic x-ray machine operators typically hold an associate's degree in radiologic technology, although bachelor's degrees in the field are also available.

Required Education Typically, an associate's degree in radiologic technology
Other Requirements Licensure is required in some states; optional certification is available and preferred by some employers
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 9% radiologic technologists
Median Annual Salary (2018)* $59,520 for radiologic technologists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Basic X-Ray Machine Operator Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), radiologic technologists had a median annual salary of $59,520 - with most earning between $40,630 and $86,350 - as of May 2018 ( The top five industries with the highest employment levels of radiologic technicians as of the same time period included hospitals, physicians' offices, diagnostic medical labs, outpatient care centers and the federal government. Annual mean wages for radiologic technicians in these various settings ranged from $55,990 to $66,790 in May 2018.

The BLS projected job growth for radiologic technologists to be 9% from 2018 to 2028, which is faster than average for all occupations. This growth is due, in part, to an aging population and the increased likelihood of patients with bone fractures and breaks.

Career Information

Basic x-ray machine operators are employed in hospitals, clinics and other medical diagnostic labs. These professionals have knowledge of anatomy and physiology, and they use this knowledge to prepare patients for x-rays by directing x-ray instruments to the appropriate anatomical areas.

Basic x-ray machine operators apprise patients of procedures being performed. They work to reduce the amount of radiation emitted by setting the proper controls. They also maintain patient records and clean and prepare instruments. They may also be required to assess and adjust x-ray image quality.

Education Information

Commonly, x-ray machine operators complete an associate's degree or bachelor's degree program in radiologic technology. Aspiring x-ray machine operators should have an aptitude for math, such as algebra, and science, including chemistry and biology. Typically, 2-year associate's degree programs mandate high school math and science courses prior to admission.

An Associate of Science in Radiologic Technology exposes students to topics that cover radiation protection, radiologic imaging and positioning, image production and professional ethics issues. Most degree programs require some lab or clinical work that provides hands-on experience. Completing an Associate of Science in Radiologic Technology degree program prepares individuals for entry-level positions in hospitals and clinics as an x-ray machine operator.

Licensure Information

State requirements vary for licensure of a basic x-ray machine operator. As of February 2015, 37 states recognized the American Registry of Radiologic Technologist (ARRT) exam. The ARRT exam is also used for certification and registration of x-ray machine operators. Certification and registration are voluntary, but in order to be licensed in some states the ARRT exam must be taken. Additionally, some employers look for x-ray machine operators to be certified and registered.

Basic x-ray machine operators take internal images of the body using diagnostic equipment and work with radiologists, physicians and other medical professionals. They typically hold a postsecondary degree and state licensure, and voluntary certification is available in this field. Job opportunities for radiologic technologists are predicted to grow faster than average through the year 2028, due to a rapidly aging population.

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