Radiology Tech Careers: What's the Difference?
The field of radiology incorporates a wide range of digital imaging technologies and provides many different career opportunities. Jobs are available for people with varying levels of skill, experience and education.
Here is a list of some of the career paths available in the radiologic technology field:
- Radiology Technician: Radiology technicians operate the machinery, position patients for optimum results and perform the tests that create digital images of the body such as x-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans or mammograms used for diagnosing illness. Most technicians spend one or two years in a trade school or community college studying proper imaging techniques and learning to operate digital imaging equipment.
- Radiologic Technologist: The job duties of a radiologic technologist are very similar to those of a radiology technician. Technologists, also sometimes called radiographers, operate equipment and conduct tests using x-ray, CT, MRI or mammography technologies to produce digital images of internal organs, bones and tissues. The main difference between radiology technicians and radiologic technologists is their level of education. Most technologists hold four-year bachelor's degrees and are eligible for supervisory positions.
- Radiology Assistant: Radiology assistant is a newly recognized occupation by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, the national certification organization of radiologic technologists. Radiology assistants are trained radiologic technologists who have completed advanced study and work directly under radiologists. They conduct tests, manage patients and make preliminary judgments of test results. However, only a licensed radiologist is able to make official, written diagnoses from radiologic images.
- Radiology Nurse: Radiology nurses are registered nurses (RNs) who have completed special training in treating patients undergoing radiologic procedures. Their duties include assisting patients during testing to ensure their safety and comfort, and supervising their recovery to manage pain or any complications that may arise. Most radiology nurses have completed several years of nursing school, plus extra study in radiology. They will have passed both the RN certification exam and the radiology nurses certification exam such as the one administered by the Association for Radiologic & Imaging Nursing.
- Radiologist: A radiologist is a licensed medical doctor who has completed specialized training in conducting radiological tests and interpreting digital images. They are experts in using radiologic images to diagnose abnormalities or illness in the human body. In order to become board certified, radiologists must complete an undergraduate degree, four years of medical school, a medical licensing exam, a year of internship with a hospital or medical facility, and then four more years of residency in the field of radiology.
Get Started in a Radiology Tech Career
No matter what your education or skill level, the field of radiology offers a variety of careers for anyone with a desire to help others and an interest in technology. Take the first step by getting your radiology tech education. Browse our directory of radiology tech schools, request information about programs that interest you, and get started today.