Become a Radiation Therapist

Learn what a radiation therapist does.

The Basics

What you'll do: You'll work in coordination with radiologists to implement therapeutic treatment plans for patients. Radiation therapists administer radiation therapy to patients under the instruction of oncologists and radiologists, and locate tumors, measure the amount of radiation given and update treatment reports. Most importantly, you'll follow regulations to protect both patients and practitioners from high doses of radiation.

Where you'll work: Hospitals, physician's office, cancer hospitals, outpatient care centers, colleges and universities

Degree you'll need: Associate's degree or certificate in radiation therapy to start

Median annual salary: $77,560*

Education and Training

Radiation therapist programs can range from 1-to-2 years. One-year programs result in a certificate or diploma, while students in 2-year programs will earn associate's degrees.

One-year programs emphasize supervised clinical education in training facilities like hospitals. The associate's degree provides in-depth training that focuses both on theoretical knowledge (in the classroom) and hands-on experiences.

Licensing and Certification

There are no certification requirements, but employers often prefer Certified Radiation Therapists, who have passed national examinations that verify their professional skills and knowledge.

The most widely recognized certifying body is the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Certified radiation therapists must meet education and clinical competency standards set by the ARRT.

Radiation therapists can take the national exam after completing an accredited training program, or after working full-time for two years. Radiation therapists who pass this exam become Certified Radiation Therapists and can renew their certification annually.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook; Radiation Therapists.

*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.