Bone density testing professionals help diagnose osteoporosis in patients and are required to complete an undergraduate degree in radiology or MRI technology. Three different certifications are available for these professionals. Licensure or certification is required, but specific requirements depend on each state.
Bone density testing professionals measure the mass of bones to help diagnosis osteoporosis. Individuals in this field must complete an accredited undergraduate degree in radiology or a related field, along with specific training and licensure. Certification is also available. This career requires ongoing training to remain current for licensure and/or certification and with the latest technological advances in this field.
|Required Education||An associate's or bachelor's degree in radiology or MRI technology (for radiologic and MRI technologists)|
|Other Requirements||Licensure and/or certification depending on state|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||9% (for radiologic and MRI technologists)*|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)||$56,670 (for radiologic technologists)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Bone density testing, or densitometry, is used to diagnosis osteoporosis. Highly trained and certified technologists measure the mass of bones using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA or DXA), the industry's most commonly used method to monitor bone density.
Individuals interested in a career in densitometry must complete an accredited undergraduate degree program in radiography or a related radiation field before they can acquire the skills needed to perform bone density tests. Following the degree program, candidates can attend densitometry seminars offered throughout the year by various professional organizations. These classes provide the necessary knowledge needed to conduct densitometry.
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Certification in densitometry establishes standards and ensures that technologists running and interpreting DXA scans offer patients the best diagnosis and treatments possible. The International Society for Clinical Densitometry provides three certifications for technologists: Certified Bone Density Technologist (CBDT), Certified Clinical Densitometrist (CCD) and Certified Densitometry Technologist (CDT).
Both the CCD and CDT certifications are offered internationally through a standardized test and are good for five years. The 3-year CBDT designation, offered only in the United States and Canada, certifies that the candidate has passed a rigorous examination for performing bone scans. Maintaining certification requires ongoing education.
To work as a bone density technologist, individuals must meet state licensing requirements, which usually include the number of hours worked and education qualifications. For example, the state of Colorado requires practicing densitometrists to be trained, registered with the ARRT and hold current certification by an organization recognized by that state. Other states like Florida only require a technologist be a licensed radiation technologist. According to Payscale.com, as of January 2016, most bone density technologists, or bone densitometry technicians, earned an hourly rate between $13.98 and $27.20, with the median being $18.00 per hour. The BLS listed the median annual salary for radiologic technologists as $56,670 in 2015.
Bone density testing professionals use medical machines to measure bone mass in their patients. After an associate's or bachelor's degree program in radiology or a related field, the necessary experience for this field can be gained through additional specialized seminars. Certification or licensure is required to practice, and certification can be valid for 3 to 5 years.