Radiology technologists, more commonly called radiologic technologists, assist physicians in the diagnosis and treatment of patients through the production of X-ray images of the body. Students entering an associate's degree program are recommended to have a strong background in biological sciences, physics and algebra. Some programs also require prior volunteer experience in a hospital radiology department. Many bachelor's degree programs are designed exclusively for undergraduates who have already completed an associate degree program or are currently employed in healthcare. Prospective students are often required to complete a clinical site visit to observe a radiology department prior to admission. Some states require that radiologic technologists be licensed or certified, and this usually requires graduation from an accredited training program.
Program specializations may include Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Cardiovascular Interventional Radiography, Mammography, and Ultrasound.
Associate of Applied Science in Radiologic Technology
Radiologic technology associate's degree programs prepare students to utilize radiological equipment to produce X-rays, properly position patients for radiological procedures, perform necessary safety measures and provide care to patients. Problem solving and critical thinking skills are also emphasized. Students often gain hands-on clinical experience in settings such as general and trauma radiography. Radiologic technologist associate's degree programs combine theoretical classroom instruction with extensive hands-on clinical instruction. The following are common course topics:
- Medical terminology
- Image production
- Radiation protection
- Radiologic science
- Radiographic imaging
- Specialized imaging technology
Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Technology
Radiologic technology bachelor's degree programs allow undergraduates to focus their studies further. Applicants to these programs typically must have an associate's degree in an allied health field. Completion of an admission interview and personal statement may also be required. Radiologic technology bachelor's degree programs offer a combination of liberal arts, science and radiologic technology coursework. Common concentration areas include magnetic resonance imaging, cardiovascular interventional radiography, mammography and ultrasound. Additional skills are gained in the areas of human resource management, quality management, informatics, supervision and finance. Common courses cover:
- Mobile radiography
- Radiographic physics
- Radiographic procedures
- Radiography pathology
- Radiographic exposure
- Radiation biology
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Graduates of associate's degree programs are prepared to work as entry-level radiologic technologists. Those with a bachelor's degree may find more advanced opportunities as lead radiologic technologists, radiologic trainers and radiologic program directors. Radiologic technologists may work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, doctor's offices, outpatient clinics, mobile radiography companies, surgery centers, family care, long-term care, pediatrics, and home healthcare facilities.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasted job growth of 9% between 2014 and 2024 for radiologic technologists (www.bls.gov). The median annual salary for radiologic technologists in 2015 was $55,670, according to the BLS.
Continuing Education Information
Upon completion of a radiologic technology associate's degree program, graduates are eligible to take the certification examination administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. Bachelor's degree programs in radiologic technology are available for students interested in further career advancement or more specialized training. Additional educational programs are also available in related medical fields, including magnetic resonance imaging, nuclear medicine technology, ultrasound and radiation therapy technology.
Depending upon the level of training, radiologic technologists can anticipate a career at varied levels. Completing a two-year program prepares students for entry level jobs while earning a bachelor's degree opens the door for advanced positions in a field that has expected growth.