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The medicine field is more often associated with nurses or doctors, but there are actually different professions of varying expertise in the field responsible for accommodating your different medical needs, such as radiologic technologists. Radiologic technology is a dynamic and highly in-demand field that is not as well-known as it is more of a behind-the-scenes profession. But what exactly are radiology technicians, what do these experts do and how can you become one?
What is a Radiologic Technologist?
Radiologic technologists, sometimes called X-ray techs, radiology technicians, radiographers or rad techs, are professionals that are trained to assist and perform diagnostic imaging procedures such as X-rays, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and dynamic imaging, among others. These imaging procedures help rad techs create images of bones, tissues and even internal organs.
The images help physicians diagnose different ailments and figure out the necessary steps the patient should take for treatment. Radiologic techs can choose to practice expertise in different imaging techniques such as X-ray and computed tomography (CT) imaging as well as positron emission tomography (PET). Aside from these methods, they are also responsible for monitoring patient safety, interviewing patients, explaining procedures and assisting them throughout the process.
As of 2019, there are about t 212,000 radiology techs in the United States and the profession is growing rapidly. They are usually employed at different sites:
- 60% of them being at state, local and private hospitals
- 20% are at offices of physicians
- 7% are in outpatient centers
- another 7% are in Medical and diagnostic laboratories; and
- 3% are in the Federal government, excluding postal service.
Is Radiology Tech School Harder Than Nursing School?
Comparing radiology tech school to nursing school is difficult because attending either school is a subjective choice based on your, academic skills, personality and personal choice. However, the complexity of both fields can be measured by their admission requirements, prerequisites, subjects you are required to take and other factors we would discuss below.
Both radiology tech and nursing are challenging courses. Admission requirements may vary depending on the university you will be enrolling in. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that radiologic technicians usually acquire associate’s or Bachelor's Degree to prepare for their careers. Against some nursing positions such as licensed vocational nurse and LPN positions where training about one year, this requires more years of education. However, registered nurses have the same or even more time dedicated to their study and training.
Whether an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree for rad techs both typically include classroom study and clinical work. Subjects required to be taken usually include anatomy, pathology, patient care, physics and image evaluation. If you are a high school student interested in pursuing radiologic or MRI technology as a career, you can consider taking courses that are focused on Mathematics and Science like Anatomy, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. You might want to look for Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) accredited programs in radiography or American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists (ARMRIT) accredited MRI since accredited programs are required for licensure in some states.
How Much Do Radiology Techs Make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, radiologic technologists have a median annual wage of $60,510 in May 2019. The lowest 10 percent of rad techs earned less than $41,480, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $89,760. Radiology techs that specialize in MRI, on the other hand, have a median annual wage of $73,410 as of May 2019. This means that the lowest 10 percent of them earned less than $51,150. The highest 10 percent, on the other hand, earned more than $101,580.
How Do You Become a Radiology Tech?
Just like other medicine courses, aspiring rad techs go through years of study for a certificate or degree. However, they generally obtain a two-year associate's degree in Radiologic Technology. After getting their degree, the students become eligible to take the national examination for a therapeutic radiologic technology certificate. This exam is given by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).
Requirements may vary depending on different states. For example, in California, radiology techs and technicians are required to have a certificate or permit to practice in the State of California. In order to do this, they must finish an educational program approved by the California Department of Public Health, Radiological Health Branch (RHB) and pass a California State examination or a national examination for certification. If you obtain California State certification, you can also apply for additional certificates given that you meet the educational requirements.
How You Can Find Radiology Tech Jobs
With the internet at the palm of your hand, it has never been easier to find job postings. We at HealthJob are ready to help you to the next step towards your career growth. We are an institution that aims to guide healthcare workers to navigate their careers by bridging the gap between employers with job openings in the medical field and aspiring healthcare workers. We understand how important your career choices are and have made an effort to help you make the right decisions.
Browse our job listings now, as well as our articles targeted to keep you informed about the constantly evolving industry to stay on top of your career plans.