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What’s a Radiation Therapist? Job Duties, Education & Salary

Learn how to become a radiation therapist and what you’ll do on the job.

therapist readying patient for a scan
Home » Specialties » Radiation Therapist

The Basics

  • What you’ll do: A radiation therapist works 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: $86,850

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.

Salaries by State

Take a look at median annual salaries by state for radiation therapists:

Radiation Therapists

National data

Median Salary: $86,850

Bottom 10%: $60,080

Top 10%: $132,930

Projected job growth: 7.1%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alabama $75,550 $49,960 $128,160
Arizona $91,910 $69,110 $127,280
Arkansas $70,830 $51,660 $102,420
California $123,800 $80,020 $180,730
Colorado $94,520 $69,760 $129,590
Connecticut $99,680 $70,950 $144,680
Delaware $101,140 $69,800 $128,240
District of Columbia $81,230 $60,520 $108,450
Florida $78,170 $57,720 $122,400
Georgia $82,660 $60,230 $127,390
Hawaii $96,080 $61,670 $126,830
Idaho $88,700 $51,910 $107,920
Illinois $83,810 $64,250 $116,960
Indiana $77,100 $56,710 $110,030
Iowa $70,500 $55,770 $103,410
Kansas $65,680 $48,820 $101,010
Kentucky $78,750 $50,590 $108,100
Louisiana $75,450 $55,880 $106,070
Maine $86,940 $65,820 $125,340
Maryland $89,350 $64,410 $121,570
Massachusetts $90,060 $64,360 $126,110
Michigan $77,060 $58,020 $103,240
Minnesota $81,490 $65,580 $115,880
Mississippi $83,470 $58,110 $128,510
Missouri $75,760 $56,770 $104,500
Montana $84,030 $60,630 $154,370
Nebraska $77,270 $55,940 $124,940
Nevada $90,210 $63,690 $120,810
New Hampshire $92,670 $68,150 $126,310
New Jersey $101,660 $69,780 $134,590
New Mexico $81,180 $60,480 $108,860
New York $104,970 $69,620 $178,360
North Carolina $80,420 $58,210 $104,360
Ohio $85,000 $64,920 $141,360
Oklahoma N/A N/A N/A
Oregon $104,820 $77,970 $145,950
Pennsylvania $83,640 $58,680 $123,650
Rhode Island $103,970 $69,760 $135,510
South Carolina $87,040 $58,840 $149,230
South Dakota $83,080 $68,200 $103,560
Tennessee $75,130 $53,050 $139,870
Texas $87,670 $63,540 $126,750
Utah $82,800 $63,940 $136,570
Vermont $89,480 $69,590 $111,390
Virginia $82,420 $57,530 $119,940
Washington $102,920 $74,830 $148,330
West Virginia $74,780 $56,510 $110,060
Wisconsin $78,160 $57,640 $111,520

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2020 median salary; projected job growth through 2029. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.