Responsibilities of radiologist technicians include taking x-rays of patients to diagnose medical issues. Technicians must take special precautions while using the radiology equipment in order to reduce exposure to radiation. To gain employment in this field, you must have received an associate's degree or bachelor's degree in radiology. Additionally, you must obtain a state license to ensure you receive a radiologist technician salary.
At work, radiology technicians must create clear and precise images of the body, enabling physicians to identify and treat medical conditions that would otherwise be hard to diagnose. These technicians must know how to operate sophisticated equipment that includes X-ray, mammography, computerized axial tomography (CAT) scanners, and positron emission tomography (PET) scanners.
Job Description and Duties of Radiologist Technicians
Radiologist technicians must prepare patients and guide them through the medical imaging process. They must also ease the anxieties of patients about to undergo unknown procedures. After instructing the patient to remove jewelry, clothing, or other items that might interfere with the equipment, radiologist technicians position the patient correctly and protect them from overexposure with lead aprons. Sometimes they must also inject barium- or iodine-based contrast agents to improve image quality.
Once the equipment has captured the images on digital file or film, radiology technicians review the results of their work with radiologists and take additional views when recommended to do so. Their responsibilities might also include updating patient records and protecting the imaging equipment.
Radiologic technologists are radiology technicians that have taken continuing education and training. They may also have acquired this additional training and education before entering the field. Radiology technologists can become specialists in a specific diagnostic test, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Technicians with more than one specialty are highly regarded by employers. Regardless of the level of training - technician or technologist - or specialization, the precision work of these professionals enables physicians to diagnose and treat an ample variety of health conditions with precision and trust.
Education and Certification
Radiology technicians may gain employment in hospitals, clinics, imaging centers, private physician offices or even mobile imaging service centers. Hospitals remain the main job providers, and they also tend to be much busier than outpatient locations. A radiology technician typically works a 40-hour week. However, some positions require on-call night or weekend work.
As far as the education for these professionals, you should be aware that, in the past, one- or two-year certificate programs were available. Today, those certificate programs only provide a viable path for students who have already earned at least an associate degree in a different subject. Radiology technicians have to complete at minimum a two-year associate degree. These programs are offered at almost all accredited community colleges and private institutions.
Some topics you can expect to cover in an associate degree program are:
Some universities also offer a bachelor’s degree in radiologic technology. Admission to these programs is done according to each school’s own criteria. In these programs, students learn radiation physics, anatomy, pathology, and radiobiology, among other courses. Many radiologic technology programs now offer coding or medical office courses, as some jobs will require those skills. A portion of the curriculum at the great majority of these schools is hands-on to give students valued patient contact experience.
Some courses in the bachelor’s program include:
Radiology technicians are required to obtain state licensure to work in the field. Licensing requirements are determined by the states' health boards. They generally include passage of a licensing exam. Some states may accept certifications from the American Registration of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) in lieu of completing a state licensing exam.
Certification and Accreditation
As far as accreditation, the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) is the official accrediting body for radiography training programs. If you want to pursue this field of study, it is very important for you to take a JRCERT-accredited training program because it will later qualify you for certification.
Certificate coursework focuses on the skills you need to pass the certification exam and practice clinically as a radiology technician. A few subjects you might encounter include:
Certification follows radiologic technology training and is awarded by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) after passing the certification exam. While certification isn’t mandatory for radiology technicians, it’s very difficult to get hired if you don’t have it. Also, primary certification as a Registered Technologist, Radiography (RT(R)) is required for licensure in many states.
You should also be aware that, in addition to the educational requirements already mentioned, you will need to pass a background check and achieve a passing score on the certification exam in order to get your RT(R) credential from ARRT. To maintain ARRT-certified status, you are required to complete 24 hours of continuing education every two years.
Radiology technicians are frequently “technologists-in-training.” A technologist candidate is qualified to seek certification after meeting experience and training requirements obtained as a technician. Certified radiology technologist may also be asked to train or manage entry-level technicians.
Finally, be aware that several specializations within radiology technology allow you to focus on the specialty of your choice and boost your earning potential.
Radiologist Technician Salary Information
The current median annual radiologist technician salary is $57,450, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Radiologist technician salary typically ranges from $38,660 (the median of the bottom 10% of earners) to $82,590 (the median of the top 10%). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for radiology technologists will rise faster than average at 9% through 2024.
Hospitals and diagnostic laboratories generally pay a higher radiologist technician salary than physicians’ offices. Technicians with certification to handle more equipment and machines receive more generous incomes than those who do not have additional training and experience. A radiologist technician salary also varies depending on geographical location and employer type. In general terms, radiology tech jobs in metropolitan areas and medical diagnostic laboratories often pay higher a radiologist technician salary than radiology tech jobs in rural areas and physician’s offices.
If you are seriously considering a career in this field, this is a short list of some basic skills and qualities you should possess in order to obtain a high radiologist technician salary:
Additionally, if you like working with your hands and being active while on the job, becoming a radiologist technician may be right for you. Here’s why:
This job will add to your overall satisfaction to know you’re a fundamental component of a healthcare team and will be making a real difference in people’s lives.
Prospects look particularly interesting due to the aging Baby Boomer population, in which technicians manage breaks and fractures caused by osteoporosis and other factors as people age. This will translate into job security and great salaries for radiologist technicians looking to get into the field. Employment for radiology technicians is projected to increase 21% by the year 2022, which equates to nearly 50,000 new jobs. Plus, when you impact the lives of others, you gain a sense of pride, which will provide you with a degree of value way beyond any financial compensation.