Radiologic technicians, also known as radiology technologists, use radiation equipment to produce diagnostic medical images that physicians use to detect disease and injury. Associate's degrees are the most common radiology tech educational credential, but bachelor's degrees are also available. Programs include a strong practical component, and programs are designed to prepare graduates for certification and licensing exams. Applicants must be CPR-certified.
Radiology technology specializations, such as cardiovascular diagnosis or mammography, are available with additional training.
Associate of Science in Radiologic Technology
Featuring a math and science intensive curriculum, this 2-year program teaches students about medical terminology, ethics, anatomy and physiology. Individuals learn how to properly use imaging technology, including CAT scans, x-rays and MRIs. The program covers personal radiation protection and patient positioning. Students receive instruction through lectures and labs, and clinical training is performed under physician or faculty supervision. Common class topics include the following:
- Computer imaging
- Health sciences and physics
- Protection and radiobiology
- Radiographic technique
- Radiographic pathology
- Radiology practicum
Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Technology
Radiology tech education at the baccalaureate level lasts four years and prepares students for work as radiology technologists. Students learn how to work with radiologic physicians, or radiologists, and give basic patient care. The program teaches proper ways of administering radiation therapy treatments and maintaining imaging equipment. Credits earned during an associate's degree program in radiology technology may be transferable into a bachelor's degree program. Students must successfully complete supervised clinical training during the radiology technology program. General class topics include the following:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Health sciences pharmacology
- Imaging sciences and radiography
- Patient care for radiology professionals
- Radiographic positioning and exposure
Popular Career Options
Medical offices, imaging centers, hospitals and clinics are just some of the places where graduates find work. Job titles may include the following:
- Director of diagnostic imaging center
- Head radiologic technician or technologist
- Radiological trainer
- Radiologic equipment sales representative
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (www.bls.gov) projected employment of radiologic technologists to grow by 9% between 2014 and 2024. Individuals willing to relocate should have better job prospects, because of regional demand. In 2015, the BLS reported that $58,120 was the median annual wage for radiologic and MRI technologists.
Continuing Education and Certification Information
Radiology tech schools do not offer master's degrees in the field; however, advanced certificate programs in radiological sciences are available. Additional field training may advance radiologic technicians to specialists, such as cardiovascular technologists, radiation therapists and nuclear medicine technologists. Individuals are qualified to become radiologist assistants with further education and certification.
Licensure is awarded at the state level, and requirements vary by state. Radiologic technicians may voluntarily sit for the certification exam administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Some states use the ARRT exams for licensing purposes, and many employers prefer to hire ARRT certified radiologic technicians. The ARRT certification is maintained by completing 24 hours of continuing education every two years.
Although associate's degree programs are the most common program for aspiring radiologic technicians, bachelor's degree programs are also available. Along with coursework, students receive intensive hands-on training.