A radiologic technologist goes by a couple of different titles including medical radiation technologist and radiographer. However, the work is the same. A person in this position uses different types of diagnostic equipment like x-ray machines and magnetic resonance imaging to take pictures of internal body structures. These images are then used by medical staff to diagnose and treat various health conditions. Other duties performed by a radiologic technologist include:
- Operate, adjust, and maintain equipment
- Acquire patient information such as medical history and maintain records
- Work with doctors and radiologists on the types and number of images needed
- Position patients correctly and protect them from overexposure
- Answer patient questions and relay information about the procedure
- Prepare a concoction for patients to drink to improve imaging
Radiologic technologist may specialize in one or more types of images such as CT scans or mammography.
How To Become A Radiologic Technologist
Education and training is required to enter this career field. At minimum, you will need a certificate to obtain employment in the industry, which takes up to 1 year to complete. However, associate’s and bachelor’s degrees are also available and take 2 years and 4 years respectively to complete. Community colleges, technical schools, and vocational schools typically offer programs that include classroom and clinical training.
All education must be completed at an accredited educational facility. Most programs require you to take courses in pathology, anatomy, patient care, radiation physics, and radiation protection. If you are a high school student interested in entering this career field, be sure to take classes in anatomy, chemistry, biology, math, physiology, and physics to prepare.
Most states require radiologic technologists to be certified or licensed. You must graduate from an accredited program and pass either a state certification exam or a test offered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologist (AART). You will also be required to participate in continuing education to maintain the certification. More information about certification can be obtained from your local state health board.
Important Characteristics You”l Need to Become A Radiologic Technologist
To be successful as a radiologic technologist, you must possess the following characteristics:
- Detail oriented: Medical staff will be using the images to diagnose and treat diseases. It is important to follow instructions and get the exact images needed to assist in the patient’s treatment.
- Skills in science and math: In addition to using the right mix of chemicals for the images, radiologic technologists must be well versed in anatomy, physiology, and other sciences.
- Interpersonal skills: Since you will be working with patients, you must know how to handle people on all points of the emotional spectrum. Patients may be ill or in pain and you must be calm, kind, and professional when working with them.
- Endurance: Radiologic technologists work for long periods of time on their feet. They must also be strong enough to lift and move people that need help getting around.
- Technical skills: The machinery used in radiology is complex. You must be willing and able to work with the technology to safely obtain images.
- Problem solving skills: Everything doesn’t always go as planned. You must be able to solve problems that arise during the course of the day.
Although radiologic technologists are employed in a variety of medical settings, the bulk of people (about 61%) in this position work at state, local, and private hospitals. Physician offices were the second leading employer of radiologic technologists at 21%. The federal government, laboratories, and outpatient care centers make up the remaining percentage of employers.
Like the majority of healthcare jobs, you will be exposed to infectious diseases. Exposure to radiation is another hazard of the job. However, this is minimized by the use of safety equipment such as protective lead aprons and gloves. As a member of the medical field, you are required to abide by state and federal HIPPA laws regarding patient information.
Salary for Radiologic Technologist
A survey of the industry in May 2010 found the average salary of radiologic technologists to be $54,340. The highest and lowest 10% earned $76,850 and $36,510 respectively. These professionals also enjoy health insurance, sick time, and vacation benefits. The majority work full time with evenings, weekends, and on-call hours being the norm.
In 2010, there were 219,900 people employed as radiologic technologists. The job opportunities in this field are expected to grow 28% by 2020, which is faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is fueled by an aging population and the rise in medical conditions, such as osteoporosis, that require internal imaging. The best jobs will go to people with higher education and multiple certifications.
It is expected that the majority of radiologic technologists will eventually be employed by physicians. Hospitals are increasingly shifting many procedures to outpatient care facilities to reduce costs. This means less people employed at hospitals and more people in smaller private offices.