How to Become a Radiology Technician: A Step-by-Step Guide
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A radiology technician (RT) is a medical professional who uses imaging technology to diagnosis and treat patients. RTs are specially trained in the use of x-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, and other imaging modalities.Becoming an RT requires completing an accredited educational program and passing a national certification exam. Some states also require RTs to obtain a license.
What Does a Radiology Technician Do?
Radiology technicians are vital members of the healthcare team who provide diagnostic imaging exams using X-ray, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear medicine, positron emission tomography (PET) and ultrasound. These exams assist physicians in diagnosing and treating diseases and injuries.
Radiology technicians must be able to follow precise instructions and maintain a high level of attention to detail in order to produce quality images. They also need to be able to work well under pressure, as they may be required to handle multiple tasks at one time.
In addition to providing diagnostic imaging exams, radiology technicians may also be responsible for:
-Preparing patients for exams
-Explaining exam procedures
-Storing and retrieving images
What are the Education Requirements to Become a Radiology Technician?
To become a radiologic technician, you will need at least an associate’s degree from an accredited radiologic technology program. Some states require licensure or certification to perform certain tasks, such as taking x-rays.
In addition to coursework, your training will include supervised clinical experience in a hospital or other medical setting. Upon completion of your program, you will be eligible to take the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification examination.
While not required, many technologists choose to pursue advanced certifications in specialized areas of diagnostic imaging, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT). These certifications may require additional training and passing a separate exam.
What are the Certification and Licensure Requirements to Become a Radiology Technician?
Radiologic technologists must be licensed in most states. Requirements vary by state, but all states require passing an exam. Some states use the national certification exams administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) as the basis for licensure, while others have their own exams. A few states have no licensure requirements.
In order to take the ARRT exam, candidates must have completed an accredited educational program and completed an internship or clinical training program. Once licensed, radiologic technologists must renew their license every few years and complete continuing education requirements to stay up-to-date on new technology and safety procedures
What are the job outlook and Salary for Radiology Technicians?
Respected members of the healthcare community, radiology technicians occupy an important position in diagnostic medicine. They are the ones responsible for performing x-rays and other imaging tests that help doctors determine the best course of treatment for their patients. Radiology technicians must have a keen eye for detail and be able to follow instructions precisely in order to produce high-quality images.
The job outlook for radiology technicians is positive, with an expected growth of 13% from 2018 to 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This growth is due in large part to the aging baby boomer population, who will require more diagnostic imaging procedures as they age. The median annual salary for radiology techs was $60,070 in 2018, according to the BLS.
How to Advance Your Career as a Radiology Technician
If you’re looking to advance your career as a radiology technician, you may want to consider one of these five options.
1. Get certified
Earning voluntary certification in radiography can demonstrate your commitment to your career and improve your job prospects. Although certification is not required in all states, it may be required by some employers. The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) offers certification in radiography, and eligible candidates must meet education and experience requirements and pass an exam.
2. Earn a bachelor’s degree
While an associate’s degree is the minimum educational requirement for most positions in radiography, some employers may prefer or require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree program in radiologic technology typically takes four years to complete and provides more comprehensive training than an associate’s degree program.
3. Gain experience
Gaining work experience can make you more attractive to potential employers and help you advance your career. Once you have completed an accredited radiography program, you may want to consider working in a hospital or other medical setting before pursuing other opportunities. Many hospitals offer paid internships or externships for students who are interested in gaining experience in the field.
Radiologic technologists who specialize in a particular area of imaging may have better job prospects than those who do not specialize. Common areas of specialization include computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), mammography, nuclear medicine, and ultrasound. Specialized training is typically necessary to work in one of these areas, and many community colleges offer certificate programs that can be completed in less than a year.
5. Become a manager
technically-advanced management position overseeing the daily operations of a radiology department or facility
While a radiology technician career is not for everyone, it can be a very rewarding and satisfying profession. Helping people and working with top-of-the-line medical equipment are just a couple of the reasons why you might want to consider this career. With the right training and certification, you can be on your way to a long and successful radiology technician career.