What Is a Radiation Physicist?
Research what it takes to become a radiation physicist. Learn about the job duties of these professionals, as well as educational and certification requirements and salary information, to find out if this is the career for you.
Career Information At a Glance
Radiation physicists work in the medical field of radiology. The following table provides information for this career:
|Degree Required||Master's degree or Ph.D.|
|Education Field of Study||Medical physics, radiological physics|
|Key Responsibilities||Calculate, operate and manage the design of equipment, follow all safety precautions, consult with medical professionals on patient treatments|
|Job Growth (2012-22)||10% (physicists)*|
|Median Salary (2013)||$110,110 (physicists)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Are the Job Duties of a Radiation Physicist?
As a radiation physicist, you handle the technical aspects of radiological equipment. You manage the design and operation of equipment. You calculate the strength of equipment, calculate the dosage of radiation and ensure proper safety precautions are in place. You'll consult with doctors and other medical personal on patient treatments, offering advice about the use or dosage of radiation therapies. You are the expert in charge of making sure radiation therapy is safe and effective for patients and those administering care.
You may work at hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities where radiation therapy is used. You might work on staff at a medical facility or you may work independently and go where you are needed to help with the installation and initial set up of a new system. You may work for a network of hospitals, offering radiation expertise at the various hospitals and medical facilities within the network.
What Education Will I Need?
In order to qualify for certification, a radiation physicist must hold a bachelor's degree in physics and a master's degree or Ph.D. in medical physics, radiological physics or related degree. In a physics program, you'll take core classes in science, mathematics and computers. You also study physics in-depth through learning about theories, mechanics, statistics and electricity. Graduate programs also include research study and may involve writing a research paper.
What Are My Certification Options?
Many states and employers require radiation physicists to be professionally certified. The American Board of Radiology (ABR) offers board certification in radiology (www.theabr.org). To earn board certification, you must prove your knowledge and skills of radiology through a series of assessment exams. You must also have a graduate degree in the field and at least three years of experience working under a certified radiation physicist in a clinical environment.
The American Board of Medical Physics (ABMP) offers certification in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and medical health physics (www.abmpexam.com). The MRI physics certification tests your knowledge of MRI operations and technology. The medical health physics certification tests your knowledge of radiation procedures and standards. Certification requirements include a graduate degree from an accredited radiation physics program.