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Radiology Technologist: Degrees, Careers, and Certification

You’ll have three options if you pursue a career as a radiology technologist.

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Home » Radiology Technologist

What Is a Radiology Technologist?

Radiology technologists use X-rays and other technologies to provide images that help physicians and healthcare workers diagnose and treat health concerns. In addition to X-rays, radiology technologists may use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scans, and other technologies to create images.

How to Become a Radiology Technologist

These steps can guide you as you pursue your career.

  1. Earn your high school diploma or GED.

    You’ll need a high school education to apply to radiology technology programs.

  2. Earn a degree.

    You can choose from a certificate, associate degree, or bachelor’s degree in radiology technology.

  3. Earn certification.

    You’ll need to attend an accredited program to earn certification, which most states and employers will require.

  4. Consider specializing.

    As a radiology technician, you’ll likely start your career taking X-rays. But there are many specialty certifications that will qualify you to branch out into other imaging procedures, including sonography, MRI, and mammography.

What You’ll Do

Radiology technologists—also known as radiologic technologists, radiographers, and X-ray technologists—play a key role in helping to identify conditions such as cancer, ulcers, or broken bones. As a radiology technologist, you’ll need to be aware of radiation safety measures and protection to comply with government regulations and ensure the safety of patients and yourself.

As your experience grows and you earn professional certifications, your career opportunities may increase, putting you in a position to take advantage of a solid job market for radiology techs.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for radiology technologists are expected to grow by 9% from 2020 to 2030, in line with the growth projected for all other occupations combined. This means that now could be a promising time to become a radiology tech.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for radiology technologists are expected to grow by 9% from 2020 to 2030.

Where Radiology Techs Work

Most radiology technologists work in hospitals. Here are some common workplaces and the percentage of technologists they employ, according to the BLS.

Hospitals60%
Offices of Physicians19%
Outpatient Care Centers7%
Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories7%
Federal Facilities, Including Veterans Administration3%

Education Requirements

There are formal education programs in radiography that lead to a certificate, associate degree, or a bachelor’s degree. The associate degree program is the most common. It takes about two years to complete, while a bachelor’s degree usually takes four years.

Both programs include classroom and clinical training. You can expect to study these subjects:

  • Anatomy
  • Pathology
  • Patient care
  • Medical ethics
  • Radiation physics and protection
  • Image evaluation

One thing to consider when choosing any school and program is accreditation, which is a seal of approval for your curriculum. Accredited schools have been reviewed by professional associations, subject matter experts, and regional accreditation agencies to make sure they provide a quality education.

The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) accredits educational and training programs in radiography.

Radiology Technologist Personality Traits and Skills

Radiology technologists work with patients who may be anxious or fearful about imaging procedures or their current health concerns. Being able to help patients move through a procedure with as much ease as possible is the mark of a good radiology tech.

These personality traits and skills may help you succeed as a radiology technologist.

You are:

  • An active listener
  • Compassionate
  • A clear communicator
  • Comfortable working with the public
  • A problem solver

You have:

  • Excellent customer service skills
  • Time management skills
  • A knack for critical thinking
  • Patience
  • Attention to detail

Salary

According to the BLS, the median annual salary for radiology technologists is $61,900.

Salaries can range depending on where you work, however. The top 10% of radiology technologists earn more than $92,660, with the highest earners typically working in outpatient care centers, according to the BLS. The lowest 10% earn $42,180.

Licensing and Certification

Most states require radiology technologists to be licensed, and the vast majority require them to earn the certification Registered Radiologic Technologist R.T. (R). This requires graduating from an accredited program and passing a certification exam given by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).

As a rule, employers expect job candidates to have the R.T. (R) certification, so it’s a good idea to plan on pursuing this credential.

To become certified as a radiology technologist, you’ll need to pass a certification exam given by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.

To maintain their certification, radiologic technologists must complete 24 hours of continuing education every two years. This education could include online classes, self-study readings, lectures at professional society meetings, and classroom learning.

As you build your career, certifications can help you specialize in a specific type of imaging, such as nuclear medicine or ultrasound.

Here are some of the certifications available to radiology technologists as they gain experience:

Nuclear Medicine Technology (N)

Computed Tomography (CT)

Mammography (M)

Written and reported by:
All Star Directories Editor