X-ray technicians are required to have a license, and certification is required by some states. Training is through certificate, associate's or bachelor's degree programs.
X-ray technicians, also called radiologic technologists or technicians, produce images of the human body for medical purposes. Aspiring X-ray techs may look to formal education programs offered by junior colleges and technical institutes for training. Although licensing is required for X-ray techs in all states, certification is not necessarily needed to achieve licensing in all states.
|Required Education||Certificates, associate's and bachelor's degrees available; 2-year degrees are typical|
|Licensing and Certification||Licensing is mandatory in all states; certification is required by some; competency and certification exams are offered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT)|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||9% for radiologic technologists*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$56,670 for radiologic technologists*|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Job Description for an X-Ray Tech
X-ray techs generally work with patients in a healthcare setting, such as a hospital or a dentist's office. When they are assigned a new patient, these techs explain the X-ray process, take the X-rays according to a physician's orders and limit the patient's radiation exposure. Other duties can include maintaining the radiologic equipment, handling patient records and purchasing new equipment.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth for radiologic technologists was expected to increase by 9% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). Like the rest of the healthcare industry, X-ray tech employment was expected to be bolstered by the aging population and a heightened demand for X-ray services.
Also according to the BLS, the median annual salary for radiologic technologists was $56,670 per year as of May 2015. Those employed at commercial and industrial machinery and equipment rental and leasing earned an average of $73,360 per year, the highest among all industries.
Employment Requirements for an X-Ray Tech
The BLS reported that, although certificate and bachelor's degree programs are available, 2-year associate's degree programs are the most common form of training for would-be X-ray techs. Classes in these programs typically provide instruction on the usage radiological equipment and human anatomy. Students also cover topics in patient care and medical equipment safety.
Most states require X-ray techs to be licensed before they can become employed. Requirements vary; in some states X-ray techs must complete a competency exam offered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Licensed X-ray techs may also have to complete continuing education requirements in order to maintain their licenses.
The ARRT offers voluntary certification for X-ray technicians that may help with employment or advancement opportunities. In order to take the certification exam, candidates must have completed an ARRT-accredited educational program within the past five years. After earning the credential, certified X-ray techs are required to complete 24 hours of continuing education credits.
With faster than average job growth projected in this field, qualified X-ray technicians should have many options for employment when pursuing their career. Training includes classroom and clinical instruction, and is available through certificate, associate's and bachelor's degree programs. Many employers prefer applicants who hold professional certification from ARRT.