Programs focus on the proper use of x-ray diagnostic equipment and the production of images that can be interpreted by an attending physician or other qualified health care worker. Because x-ray radiation can be harmful, students are trained in the proper use of safety equipment and techniques to limit exposure both to the patient and to the x-ray technician.
The certificate programs are offered at vocational schools, allied health schools and community colleges, and take one to two years to complete. A high school diploma or GED is required for admission to an x-ray technician program. Background in math, chemistry, biology and physics is also helpful, since some schools have entrance exams which require a minimum passing score.
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X-Ray and Radiologic Technology Certificate Programs
In some programs, students must take a course in medical assisting or show prior experience in the health care field before entering the x-ray technician program. Students study medical terminology, back office practices and medical ethics. Courses in a certificate program may include:
- Radiation protection
- Radiographic positioning
- Chest and extremity radiography
- Film processing
- X-ray equipment and maintenance
- Office procedures
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment for all radiologic technologists and technicians is expected to grow by 9% from 2014-2024 as the population continues to age and the demand for diagnostic imaging increases (www.bls.gov). The BLS also notes that technicians with knowledge of more than one specialty, such as mammography or computed tomography (CT), should have an edge in the competition for jobs.
The annual median salary for all radiologic technologists and technicians was $58,120 as of May 2015, the BLS reported. This figure includes all radiologic technicians, including those with higher education than a certificate and those who specialize in fields such as magnetic resonance imaging.
Professional Certification and Continuing Education
Most states require that x-ray technicians graduate from an accredited training program and pass a licensing exam. The BLS reports that employers may prefer to hire radiologic technicians who hold voluntary certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Beginning in 2015, the ARRT will require candidates for certification to hold associate degrees or higher. Anyone who graduates from a certificate program by Dec. 31, 2014 will be eligible for ARRT certification (www.arrt.org).
Many graduates of x-ray technician certificate programs go on to seek additional training in an associate, bachelor's or master's program in radiography in order to perform specialty procedures or become radiologist assistants. Opportunities for promotion are also open to workers with more education and experience.
To summarize, students in an x-ray technologist certificate program learn to perform diagnostic imaging examinations. Upon completion of the course, graduates can take the state licensing exam and apply for an x-ray certification from the ARRT to improve their job prospects.