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How to Become a Radiation Therapist Online

Nov 21, 2019

While it's possible to become a radiation therapist using some online resources, there are several parts of the process that need an in-person interaction. This article will delve into what the overall process entails.

Responsibilities of a Radiation Therapist

Radiation therapists explain treatment protocols and other parts of radiation therapy to patients who are undergoing radiation treatments for different types of diseases, including cancer. As part of their duties, they are also required to operate and calibrate the radiation treatment machinery, as well as monitor these patients' medical conditions for any adverse reactions to treatment. For the most part, students can earn a great deal of the knowledge required to qualify for a career as a radiation therapist online, but other activities like clinical experiences and the certification exam would not be available online.

Required Skills Detail-oriented, communication skills, record-keeping skills, technically-inclined
Job Growth* 9% for 2018-2028
Median Salary (2018)* $82,330 per year

Source: *U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Steps for Becoming a Radiation Therapist Online

This section will detail how persons can enter a career as a radiation therapist using the resources that are available to them online. As a part of the process, individuals may be able to pursue an undergraduate degree online, but fully earning the degree generally includes a hands-on, practical aspect.

Step 1: Get an Undergraduate Degree

Becoming a radiation therapist begins with earning at least an associate's degree in radiation therapy or a related area such as radiologic sciences. These associate degree programs can require up to about 89 credit hours and cover course topics such as human physiology, English composition, algebra, psychology and anatomy. While the programs are not completely online, they tend to be in a hybrid format that allows students to take some courses online but attend laboratory activities as well as internships in a clinical environment. It's best if the undergraduate program chosen is approved by The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) as this is integral to certification and eliminates needing to take an approved education program in the future.

Step 2. Start the Certification Process

Certification for radiation therapists is handled by ARRT, and persons start the certification process by completing an ARRT approved education program. These approved programs would cover the competency and didactic requirements of the ARRT that can be reviewed in the online handbook. There is also an ethics requirement that needs to be satisfied, and individuals can read the ARRT ethics documents online before applying for a review. Students can apply for pre-review while still enrolled in their undergraduate degree program, as the process can take up to three months, which would extend the time it takes to earn certification as a radiation therapist.

Step 3. Take the Certification Exam

The final aspect of certification is taking the ARRT radiation therapy exam that is designed to evaluate the therapist's cognitive and knowledge skills. The prospective radiation therapist can use the AART's online content specification document as a guide to the materials that need to be studied for the exam. Some of the topics that may appear on the test are patient interactions, treatment sites, radiation protection, and dose calculation. The radiation therapy exam is generally computer-based, but it still needs to be taken at an ARRT-approved test center.

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