Overview of Online Certificate Programs in Radiation Safety
Many radiation safety courses are site-specific and are intended to qualify researchers and laboratory personnel at an institution to handle radioactive materials and/or use equipment that produces radiation. Students and/or staff at colleges and universities may be required to complete initial certification training and/or refresher training to work in their positions. This training typically takes place through the institution online or on-campus.
There are also some institutions that provide online radiation safety training courses that result in a certificate of completion with each course or an online Radiation Safety Technician-Basic certificate program. Training courses may vary in length from 3 to 16 weeks long while radiation safety technician certificate programs may take about a semester to complete. Applicants to these programs generally need a high school diploma and may want to ensure that any course they take is a credit-bearing course if they need credits towards a degree. There are also some hybrid radiation safety certificates in specific areas of healthcare where radiation equipment is used, such as a Certificate in Dental Radiation Safety.
Requirements for Online Radiation Safety Certificates
In order to ensure the safe handling of radiation-producing machines and radioactive materials, online radiation safety courses and certificate programs may offer a curriculum for various levels of experience in the field of radiation safety. These programs may help prepare students for a career in radiation safety or those that utilize ionizing or nonionizing radiation.
Site-specific training courses in radiation safety may come in a hybrid or online format in separate training for handling radioactive materials and using radiation-producing machines. For example, students in training for handling radioactive materials may be required to first complete online training followed by classroom training, while training for using radiation-producing machines may be completed fully online. Typically, this training requires an annual refresher course.
Students interested in completing individual training courses in radiation safety can usually complete these courses fully online. Many of these courses may be noncredit courses, but may award a certificate upon completion. Students may be able to choose from courses in areas like non-ionizing radiation safety, radiation biology principles, and health physics. Radiation safety technician certificate programs may require around 9 credits and cover topics in health physics calculations, nuclear systems, and radioactivity and regulations. Healthcare-related radiation safety certificate programs may include some online coursework prior to in-person, hands-on training requirements to operate radiation-producing machines.
Career Outcomes with a Certificate in Radiation Safety
While many different research and laboratory positions may require training in radiation safety, a certificate in the field may help prepare students for work as radiation safety technicians, radiation technicians, radiation protection technicians, radiologic technologists, and other related nuclear monitoring technician positions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) generally groups nuclear monitoring technician positions under nuclear technicians. According to the BLS, nuclear technicians generally need an associate's degree on-the-job training, and/or security clearance. The BLS groups radiologic technologists with MRI technologists and these professionals generally need an associate's degree.
Nuclear technicians usually help engineers, physicists, or other researchers using radioactive materials by monitoring radiation levels and/or using specialized lab equipment. Nuclear monitoring technicians may focus on collecting and testing samples for radioactive levels to ensure safety regulations are met. According to the BLS, as of 2019 nuclear technicians made a median annual salary of $82,080, while another website, PayScale.com reported that radiation safety technicians made a median salary of $50,441, as of May 2020. The BLS also projected a decline of 4% in jobs for nuclear technicians from 2018 to 2028. This may be due in part to the increasing amount of automation in nuclear power plants. Radiologic and MRI technologists made a median annual salary of $62,280 as of 2019 and had a job outlook of 9% from 2018 to 2028.
While there are not many traditional online radiation safety certificate programs, students can choose from individual online training courses and/or related online certificate programs, such as a radiation safety technician certificate. Generally, these courses and programs cover topics in health physics, radiation safety, and/or nuclear systems and may be completed in a semester or less.