Be a CAT Scan Technician: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a CAT scan technician. Find information about the degree and certificate programs, credentials and experiences that can help you start a career in CAT scan technology. View article »

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  • 0:01 CAT Scan Technicians
  • 0:35 Career Skills & Info
  • 1:02 Step 1: Associate's Degree
  • 2:17 Step 2: Certificate Program
  • 2:50 Step 3: Certification
  • 3:19 Step 4: Additional…

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Video Transcript

CAT Scan Technician?

Also known as CT imaging, a CAT or computerized axial tomography scan is a medical diagnostic procedure that uses compressed x-rays to create cross-sectional images of the interior of a patient's body. CAT scan technicians are responsible for preparing patients for this procedure and ensuring that images are accurate and passed on to physicians for medical interpretation. Many work hours may be spent standing, and technicians must follow safety procedures when working with radiation.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Associate's degree, certificate
Degree Name Radiologic technology, CAT scan technology
Licensure/Certification Licensure or certification required in most states; technicians will need to pass an exam
Experience 1-3 years of job experience typically required
Key Skills A foundational understanding of the sciences and an ability to communicate with patients and other medical professionals; an understanding of how to operate CAT scan machines
Salary (2015) $58,520 (median salary for all radiologic technologists)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Job postings in August 2012

Let's take a look at what kind of a degree you'll need to qualify for a position.

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Step 1: Associate's Degree

Prospective CAT scan technicians must earn an associate's degree in radiologic technology at a community college, technical school or hospital. Radiologic technology programs combine academic coursework with clinical training in a medical environment. Through courses in anatomy and physiology, physics and radiology technology, students learn about the different procedures and how to produce a quality diagnostic image. They also work with patients under the supervision of experienced technicians in clinical settings.

Success Tips

  • Work under a CAT scan technician. During your clinical rotation, look for opportunities to assist with CAT scan procedures. Not only will this be good experience, but it will also be beneficial before enrolling in a CAT scan technology certificate program.
  • Be sure your program is accredited. The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) accredits radiologic technology programs. Graduation from an accredited program may be required for licensure and certification and ensures that students are ready for employment.

Step 2: Certificate Program

Graduates of an associate's degree program in radiologic technology can enroll in a specialized certificate program in CAT scan technology. Again, make sure the program has been approved by the JRCERT. Once enrolled, students learn about CAT instrument and equipment procedures, cross-sectional anatomy, clinical applications, patient care and radiation safety. Upon graduating, individuals are qualified to operate CAT scanners safely to ensure quality images are created and minimal radiation doses are used.

Step 3: Certification

According to the BLS, radiologic technologists must pass a certification examination offered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) to obtain a state certification or license. To be eligible to take the examination, technicians need to complete an accredited program and have clinical experience in the field. After meeting requirements for initial certification, technicians may then pursue specialized CT certification.

Step 4: Additional Certifications

According to the BLS, certification in multiple radiologic disciplines, such as magnetic resonance imaging or MRI, provides increased employment opportunities. Once technicians earn their primary certification, they can pursue additional ARRT credentials after meeting clinical experience requirements in the specialty area of their choice.

Let's review! CAT scan technicians need an associate's degree in radiologic technology, a specialized certificate and a state credential. Radiologic technicians overall earned an average of $58,520 a year as of May 2015.

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