The term “medical imaging” covers several specialties that use a wide array of methods and technologies to aid physicians in making diagnoses. While medical imaging professionals may take different career paths, they’re all extremely important to the process of providing quality patient care and treatment plans. Here are a few common specializations you’ll come across in the medical imaging field.
Because there are several medical imaging career paths, you’ll want to consider what area of medicine you’re interested in to help narrow down your choices.
Ultrasound technologists use ultrasound sonography to generate high frequency sound waves to produce images of the human body. Using medical imaging procedures, you’ll gather data for interpretation and evaluation by the physician. This profession includes abdominal sonography, neurosonography, echocardiography, obstetrical and pelvic sonography and vascular technology.
Median annual salary*: $64,280
In this career, you’ll create diagnostic medical images using x-rays and other radiations. The radiographer may work independently or with a physician to create images in the areas of computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance (MR), mammography, cardiovascular interventional technology (CIT) and others.
Median annual salary: $58,960
Nuclear medicine utilizes radiopharmaceuticals, scintillation cameras and computers to image and quantify various physiologic processes throughout the body. The nuclear medicine technologist administers radiopharmaceuticals to patients, positions them for images and operates the cameras and computers to produce the images and analyze the data.
Median annual salary: $74,350
Radiation therapy directs radiations at diseased tissues in strictly controlled circumstances to cure or palliate the disease. You’ll work with the cancer patients, positioning them for treatment, performing mathematical calculations of radiation dosage and operating a variety of equipment that produces ionizing radiation.
Median annual salary: $80,160
If you’re considering a career in medical imaging, now is a good time to head back to school. Employment of medical imaging technologists overall is expected to increase much faster than average for all occupations (a rate which is currently 7 percent) through the year 2026.
Specifically, employment for radiologic and MRI technologists is expected to increase 12 percent, while diagnostic medical sonographer jobs are expected to grow 17 percent through 2026.
This is due to an aging population that will live longer and be more active than previous generations. The need for care to diagnose and treat injuries and illnesses will guide the growth in this crucial medical field.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018-19 Occupational Outlook Handbook; Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, Including Vascular Technologists; Radiologic Technologists; Nuclear Medicine Technologists; 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 other factors.
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