Radiology Assistant Education Requirements and Career Information

Sep 12, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a radiology assistant. Get a quick view of the requirements, as well as details about job duties, certification and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

Radiology assistants work in hospitals or other medical settings assisting radiologists with advanced imaging procedures. This career requires the completion of a related bachelor's degree. Certification is required, and some states mandate licensing.

Essential Information

Radiology assistants are established radiographers who have completed additional training and certification requirements. They perform advanced diagnostic imaging procedures and work under the direct supervision of radiologists. An increasing number of universities are offering radiology assistant degree programs as this relatively new allied medical profession continues to grow.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Additional Requirements Licensure or certification required in some states
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 9% for radiologic technologists
Median Salary (2018)* $59,520 annually for radiologic technologists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Education Requirements for Radiology Assistants

Becoming a radiology assistant (RA) requires the completion of a radiologic assistant degree program recognized by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). As of 2010, there were 11 such programs offered by universities at the bachelor's degree, post-baccalaureate certificate and master's degree level. Only certified radiologic technologists (RT)--also known as radiographers--with several years of clinical experience may enroll in accredited radiology assistant degree programs.

The core curriculum of a radiology assistant degree program usually takes two years to complete, including classroom instruction and a clinical internship supervised by a radiologist. Course topics include patient assessment and care, diagnostic testing and imaging, health information management, pharmacology, radiobiology, clinical radiology, health care law and medical ethics. Master-level programs also include a thesis. This profession may require continuing education credits to sustain employment.

Certification and Licensure Requirements

Graduates of radiology assistant degree programs must pass an exam to obtain Registered Radiologist Assistant (RRA) certification issued by the ARRT. The ARRT also requires certification in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) offered through the American Heart Association. As of 2010, 11 states required radiologist assistants to be licensed in order to practice. The American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) provides a listing of licensing requirements by state.

Radiology assistant registration must be renewed annually. Radiology assistants must also maintain radiologic technologist certification via renewal every two years.

Career Information

Radiology assistants perform many of the advanced imaging procedures previously performed only by radiologists, who are medical doctors. Sometimes known as radiologist extenders, these professionals may assist radiologists with a number of invasive procedures such as conducting exams, taking X-rays, operating magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment and perform fluoroscopy procedures (in which X-rays are used to create video images of internal organs). The radiologist assistant reports his or her findings to the radiologist, who then makes the final evaluation of a patient's condition.

Skills Required

Radiology assistants must have excellent communication skills and the ability interact well with patients and physicians in a fast-paced environment. They must be detail-oriented and have current knowledge of imaging procedures. In addition to being able to work as part of a radiology team, they must be able to function independently while making preliminary evaluations, interpreting exam results and submitting reports.

Salary Information and Career Forecast

According to the ASRT, the demand for radiology assistants is expected to grow as the workload for radiologists continues to increase. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides statistics only for radiologic technologists, not specifically radiology assistants. The BLS predicts that these professionals will experience a 9% growth in employment between 2018 and 2028. In 2018, radiologic technologists earned a median annual salary of $59,520, per the BLS.

Radiology assisting is a relatively new career field designed for radiographers who pursue additional training. These positions require a bachelor's degree and certification. Some states also require licensing.

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