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Radiological Tech Job Description and Skills

Sep 10, 2019

Working as a radiological tech requires little formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and certification to see if this is the right career for you.

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Radiological technicians must complete a relevant program in radiology, which ranges from a certificate to a bachelor's degree. Education requirements, necessary skill sets, and job outlook are listed here to help you decide if a career as a radiological tech is best for you.

Essential Information

Radiological technicians take x-rays of different parts of patients' bodies. They must be safety-conscious to prevent undue exposure to radiation, and they must be educated in a certified degree program to effectively create the precise images needed by the doctors who will interpret them.

Required Education Certificate, associate's or bachelor's degree in radiology or radiologic technology
Other Requirements Some states have licensing and/or certification requirements; voluntary certification is often preferred by employers
Median Annual Salary (May 2018)* $59,520 (for all Radiologic technologists)
Job Growth (2018-2028)* 9% (for all Radiologic technologists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Radiological Tech Job Description

Radiological technicians, sometimes called radiographers, help identify medical issues by creating x-ray pictures, or radiographs, of various sections of an individual's body. Technicians must follow specific directions given by physicians in order to get the images of the correct areas of a patient's body.

Radiological technicians are responsible for both patients and machines before and during the procedure, including determining whether machines are in good condition and patients are prepared. The technician then positions the patient in relation to the machine, making sure that all the necessary protective precautions are taken and lead shields have been draped correctly around the patient.

It's extremely important that radiological techs are well versed in proper safety precautions and practice them reliably. This is necessary to keep themselves, their co-workers and their patients safe from incorrect or unnecessary contact with radiation.

After the x-rays are taken, radiological technicians update their records to help keep track of the amount of radiation they are exposed to within their lifetime and note what they have x-rayed. In addition to these various duties, the tech might be required to carry out bedside tasks, such as turning and lifting the patient.

One avenue of advancement for radiological technicians is radiology unit management, a job that involves purchasing equipment and organization of work calendars.

Education and Skills

A prospective radiological technician must first complete a high school diploma or GED, then go on to a certificate program or a 2- or 4-year degree program in radiology, all of which must be certified by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). After finishing one of these programs, the prospective radiological tech must normally sit for an examination by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, the standard test for radiologic techs in the United States.

A few states have a 'limited scope' practice provision that allows students to take several weeks of classes focusing on the radiological examination of a particular body part, then practice radiography only in that context.

A voluntary certification is offered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), and many employers prefer to hire radiographers who have been certified. Certified radiographers have the flexibility to practice freely in most states since ARRT certification is accepted everywhere. Some states do have their own licensing requirements, however.

Radiological technicians should be team workers, able to follow directions, detail-oriented, sensitive to the needs of their patients and physically fit because they will be required to be on their feet for hours at a time.

This field requires attention to detail, a firm grasp of mathematics, physical stamina, and the ability to understand and operate complex machinery. An associate's degree is usually required, and programs involve classroom as well as clinical work. Most states require radiological techs to be certified and most employers require certification, even if the state does not.

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