Associate degree programs train students to work as x-ray technicians who specialize in the maintenance and operation of x-ray equipment. Bachelor's degree programs cover advanced radiologic imaging techniques and prepare students to become trainers or directors. Both program levels include significant hands-on practice in labs or at healthcare facilities. An associate's degree is a 2 year program that requires a high school diploma and specific coursework and often a work-study position at a local healthcare facility during their second year. Students must have received high school diplomas or the equivalent and should have completed physics, algebra and other science and math courses during high school. A bachelor's degree in radiologic technology prepares associate's degree holders for advancement. Program fields available include x-ray technology and radiologic technology and bachelor's programs often require internships or residencies.
Associate's Degree in X-Ray Technology
Most programs separate the curriculum by the year, with the first year involving a lot of classroom time and the second year consisting of mostly lab work. Coursework is heavy on the sciences including anatomy and biology. Technical courses will cover x-ray machinery and practices. Some courses may include the following:
- X-ray exposure principles
- Advanced algebra
Bachelor's Degree in Radiologic Technology
Those earning their degree often work while taking classes and are prepared to hold management positions upon graduation and are often required to complete an internship at a hospital or community health center. Students in bachelor's degree programs in radiologic technology typically take more general education classes than they did as associate's degree students. Courses in this program are based around public health, healthcare ethics and healthcare technology. Students may also be required to complete residencies.
- Health care law
- The economics of healthcare
- Healthcare management
- Radiological technology techniques
Popular Career Options
Since most bachelor's degree programs are designed for working radiologic techs, popular career options for graduates usually include advancement in the field.
- Imaging center director
- Radiological trainer
- Radiological program director
- Lead radiologic technician
Salary Information and Employment Outlook
The mean annual earnings for radiologic technologists, including x-ray techs, was $58,520 as of May 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). Jobs for radiologic technologists and technicians are expected to increase by 9% from 2014-2024. Most jobs are located in hospitals, stated the BLS.
The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists gives a voluntary certification, which may help those in the field earn more pay and responsibility. It also helps professionals gain employment and network with others who hold certification. Recertification is necessary every two years and requires 24 hours' continuing education.
Students have the choice to earn either an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree for a career in x-ray technology depending on their preferences and opportunities. Upon completion of schooling, there is a voluntary certification that allows graduates to earn more money and seek a professional status within their field.