Medical Imaging Education and Career Guide
Medical Imaging Education
- Medical Imaging Home
- Medical Imaging Degrees
- Earn Your Degree from an Accredited Program
- What’s a Radiologic Tech Program Like?
- Why Choose an ARRT Accredited School
- Choosing an Ultrasound Technician Program
- Ultrasound Technician Certification
- Ultrasound Education Specialties
- Ultrasound Tech Training
Medical Imaging Careers
- Medical Imaging Career Paths
- Nuclear Medicine Technologist
- Radiation Therapist Careers
- Diagnostic Medical Sonographer Career Outlook
- Medical Imaging Salaries
- How to Become a Radiologic Technician
- Radiologic Technology Careers
- Radiologic Tech vs. Nuclear Medicine Tech
- Ultrasound Technician Careers
- Interview with a Diagnostic Medical Sonography Student
What’s the Difference Between Radiologic & Nuclear Medicine Technologists?
Compare two popular medical imaging roles and learn which is for you.
Since the 1990s, a steady rise in the use of diagnostic medical imaging has kept radiologic technologists in high demand. It’s a field that includes numerous sub-specialties, including nuclear medicine technology.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what the radiologic technologist profession is all about and where it overlaps and differs from nuclear medicine technology:
|Radiologic Technologist||Nuclear Medicine Technologist|
|Give patients diagnostic imaging exams such as X-rays, prepare patients for procedures, run computerized equipment to take images, work with radiologists to determine if other images need to be taken, explain imaging procedures to patients, and answer questions.||Prepare and administer radioactive drugs that make abnormal areas of the body appear different than normal areas, use special cameras to detect gamma rays emitted by the radioactive drugs in a patient’s body, explain imaging procedures to patients and answer questions.|
|Radiologic technologists typically get their start with an associate’s degree; other options include certificate and bachelor’s degree programs.||Same as for radiologic technologist.|
|Licensing / certification|
|Must be licensed or certified in most states; requirements vary but often include graduating from an accredited program and passing a certification exam.||Same as for radiologic technologist.|
|Average annual salary: $63,120||Average annual salary: $80,240|
|7% increase expected through 2029||5% increase expected through 2029|
|Radiologic technologists can get specialty certifications in areas such as radiography (x-ray), computed tomography, magnetic resonance, mammography and bone densitometry.||Specialty certifications are available in positron emission tomography (PET), nuclear cardiology (NCT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT).|
A couple things to keep in mind about career advancement:
- Specializing is an option early on in your career or after you zero in on which technology interests you most or is in greatest demand.
- Radiologic technologists often carry multiple sub-specialty certifications. Those who do have the best job prospects, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
And some notes about the job market: The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects7% job growth for radiologic technologists and MRI techs through 2029, as an older population will need more imaging to treat medical conditions like bone fractures caused by osteoporosis.
Workplace surveys by the American Society of Radiologic Technologists, however, have shown a tightening of the job market for the past several years. Factors have included the uncertainties about health care reform and declining exam reimbursement rates from insurance companies.
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics; Radiologic Technologist; Nuclear Medicine Technologist; Radiologic Sciences Workplace Survey 2018; American Society of Radiologic Technologists.
The salary information and job growth data 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.