How Much Schooling Do Radiology Techs Need?

Get the answer to the question, “How much schooling do radiology techs need?” We explore the educational requirements for this career.

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Radiologic technologists (RTs) are healthcare professionals who perform diagnostic imaging examinations, such as x-rays, on patients. In order to become an RT, one must complete an accredited radiography program and earn a certificate or degree. The type of credential earned depends on the level of education completed. Many RTs go on to earn advanced degrees in the field, which may lead to higher salaries and more job opportunities. The following table provides an overview of the educational requirements for becoming an RT.

Radiologic technologist education requirements
Certificate or associate’s degree

Duration of Program: 1-2 years

Requirements: high school diploma or equivalent; completion of accredited radiography program

Eligibility for Certification: Registered with the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) or eligible for registration with the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB)

Bachelor’s degree
Duration of Program: 4 years
Requirements: high school diploma or equivalent; completion of an accredited radiography program; ARRT certification or NMTCB eligibility

The different types of Radiology Programs

There are many types of radiology programs out there. Some technicians may only need an associate’s degree, while others may need a bachelor’s degree. The type of radiology technician program you need will depend on the type of job you want.

Certificate Programs

A certificate program in radiology typically takes about a year to complete and is typically offered by community colleges and technical schools. These programs provide students with the basic knowledge and skills needed to work in the field of radiology.

Certificate programs generally do not require students to have any prior experience or education in the field of health care. However, some certificate programs may require students to complete a health sciences or medical terminology course before beginning their studies.

Once students have completed a certificate program, they are eligible to take the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) exam. Upon passing this exam, students will earn their ARRT certification and will be eligible to begin working in the field of radiography.

Associate’s Degree Programs

Earning an associate’s degree in radiology is the most common way to start a career in the field. Many community colleges offer two-year programs that prepare students for the ARRT exam and entry-level positions in hospitals, clinics, and outpatient imaging centers.

Some associate’s degree programs allow students to specialize in a particular area of radiology, such as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Students in these programs take coursework specific to their chosen specialization in addition to general education requirements.

Bachelor’s Degree Programs

A Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Sciences (BSRS) is a four-year degree that trains students in both the classroom and clinical settings. During the first two years, students take courses in anatomy, physiology, physics, and other sciences. The last two years are spent completing clinical rotations in various hospitals and imaging centers. A BSRS program typically culminates in a capstone project or research thesis.

A Bachelor of Science in Radiology (BSR) is a four-year degree that focuses primarily on the science of diagnostic imaging. Students in a BSR program take courses in physics, anatomy, physiology, and medical ethics. They also complete several clinical rotations in hospitals and imaging centers. A BSR program typically culminates in a capstone project or research thesis.

A Bachelor of Arts in Radiology (BAR) is a four-year degree that focuses primarily on the liberal arts and sciences with some coursework in radiologic technology. Students in a BAR program take courses in English, history, math, and other liberal arts disciplines. They also complete several clinical rotations in hospitals and imaging centers. A BAR program typically culminates in a capstone project or research thesis

Master’s Degree Programs

Students who want to pursue careers in diagnostic radiology, radiation therapy, nuclear medicine or magnetic resonance imaging should consider attending a master’s degree program in radiology. These programs typically take two to three years to complete and may be offered as professional or research-based Master of Science programs. Admission requirements vary, but most schools require students to have at least a bachelor’s degree in radiologic science or a related field.

Master’s degree programs in radiology typically include coursework in physics, radiation biology and pathophysiology. Students also complete clinical rotations in various settings, such as hospitals, imaging centers and cancer treatment facilities. Upon graduation, students are eligible to take the national Board of Radiologic Examiners Certification Examination to become certified radiographers. Some states also require licensure.

The Pros and Cons of Each Program

There are many ways to become a radiology tech but the most common are either through an associate’s degree or a certificate program. Each has its own set of pros and cons that you should consider before making a decision. Let’s take a look at the most important factors for each option.

Certificate Programs

Radiologic technology certificate programs generally take one year or less to complete. Some of these programs may be offered in a hospital setting, while others may be found at community colleges or technical schools. Many of these programs will offer students the opportunity to put their newly learned skills to use in a hospital setting during an externship or clinical rotation.

One of the biggest advantages of completing a certificate program is that it can be done relatively quickly and with less commitment than a two- or four- year degree program. Another advantage is that certificate programs may be less expensive than degree programs, although this will vary depending on the school and the type of program.

A disadvantage of certificate programs is that they may not offer the same breadth of coursework as an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree program. Additionally, certificate programs may not prepare students as well for management positions or advanced roles in the field.

Associate’s Degree Programs

An Associate’s degree in Radiologic Technology is the most common type of program and usually takes about two years to complete. These programs are offered at many community colleges as well as some 4-year institutions. Typically, an Associate’s degree program will include general education classes in addition to the required Radiologic Technology coursework.

The advantages of completing an Associate’s degree program include:
-Shorter duration – An Associate’s degree can be completed in about half the time of a Bachelor’s degree program
-Lower tuition costs – Community colleges typically charge less than 4-year institutions
-Flexible scheduling – Many community colleges offer evening and weekend classes to accommodate working students

The disadvantages of an Associate’s degree program include:
-Limited job opportunities – Some employers prefer or require applicants to have a Bachelor’s degree
-Decreased earning potential – Radiologic Technologists with a Bachelor’s degree may earn more than those with only an Associate’s degree

Bachelor’s Degree Programs

Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Sciences

Common Courses
-Anatomy and physiology
-Medical Terminology
-Patient care
-Radiographic physics and imaging
-Sectional anatomy
Program Length
4 years, full time
High school diploma or equivalent; some programs may require completion of general education courses prior to enrolling in the major
Online Availability? Hybrid programs are common
Admission Requirements
Varies by school; may require GRE scores, a minimum GPA, and letters of recommendation. Some programs may require an interview.

Pros: A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for many management positions in the field of radiology, and it can lead to higher earnings. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), median annual wages for medical and health services managers were $96,540 as of 2018.radiologic technologists with a bachelor’s degree may have better opportunities for career advancement than those with an associate degree. moreover, a bachelor’s degree can provide the academic foundation necessary for further study in radiologic sciences, should you wish to pursue a master’s or doctorate. Cons: A bachelor’s degree program in radiologic sciences is typically more expensive than an associate degree program and takes longer to complete. In addition, you may have difficulty finding a job as a radiologic technologist with only a bachelor’s degree; most employers prefer or require certification in addition to a college education

Master’s Degree Programs

There are fewer job openings for radiology techs with associate degrees than there are for techs with bachelor’s or master’s degrees. However, an associate degree may be all that is required if you’re willing to work in a smaller hospital or outpatient Imaging center.

A master’s degree program will prepare you for a career in research, teaching or management. If you’re interested in working in a more specialized area of radiology, such as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), you may need a master’s degree. Job prospects and salaries are usually better for techs withAdvanced degrees.

Which Program is Right for You?

Not everyone learns in the same way, or at the same pace. That’s why there are many different types of radiology tech programs, from traditional 4-year universities to 2-year community colleges, and even 1-year certificate programs. The type of program you choose should be based on your learning style, schedule, and goals.

4-year university programs: If you want a well-rounded education and the opportunity to take electives outside of radiology, a 4-year university program may be a good fit for you. These programs typically take 4 years to complete and result in a Bachelor’s degree.

2-year community college programs: Community college programs are typically less expensive than university programs, and they offer more flexibility in terms of scheduling. These programs typically take 2 years to complete and result in an Associate’s degree.

1-year certificate programs: Certificate programs are the shortest way to become a radiology tech, but they may not offer the same level of education as a longer program. These programs typically take 1 year to complete and result in a certificate of completion.


To sum it all up, Radiology Techs need quite a bit of schooling. They need to complete an accredited radiology program, pass the certifying exam, and then maintain their certification. However, all of this schooling is worth it in the end. Radiology Techs get to help people every day and make a difference in the lives of their patients.

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