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CAT Scan Technologist: Career Definition, Employment Outlook, and Education Requirements

CAT scan technologists play a role in diagnosing patients' conditions. Learn educational requirements for this field as well as employment growth predictions and salary ranges.

What Does a CAT Scan Technologist Do?

CAT scan technologists are radiologic technologists, or radiographers, who specialize in computed tomography (CT) scans, a specialized X-ray procedure sometimes referred to as a CAT scan. Working under the supervision of a radiologist, you prepare patients for a CT scan by positioning them on the table and following safety measures to protect them from unnecessary or excess radiation. During the scan, you sit in a shielded room and monitor the CT scan images on the computer screen. You also monitor patients, communicating with them through an intercom. You are most likely to work in hospitals, outpatient facilities or diagnostic imaging centers. The table below contains important details about becoming a CAT scan technologist.

Degree Required Certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree; associate's is the most common
Education Field of Study Radiologic technology or radiography
Key Duties Prepare patients for CT scans, monitor patients and images during the scan
Job Growth (2018-2028) 9%* (radiologic technologists)
Median Salary (2018) $59,520* (radiologic technologists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Is My Employment Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for radiologic technologists, including CT scan technologists, were expected to increase nine percent during the 2018-2028 decade (www.bls.gov). This was faster than average compared to all other jobs. The increased demand was expected partially because of an aging population that requires more diagnostic services. As of May 2018, the BLS reported that the middle half of radiologic technologists earned between $48,400 and $73,200.

What Type of Education Do I Need?

In order to pursue a career as a CT scan technologist, you might complete a certificate, associate's or bachelor's degree program in radiologic technology or radiography. Certificate programs usually take between 21-24 months to complete. However, according to the BLS, completion of an associate's degree is the most common educational path.

You may prefer a program accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology, which ensures your program meets state licensing requirements. During a training program, you will study human anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, patient care, image production, radiation protection and equipment operations. Most states require that CAT scan technologists be licensed. The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists offers voluntary certification. To qualify for this certification, you must have completed your academic training within the past five years, pass the ARRT certification exam and meet the ARRT ethics standards (www.arrt.org). Continuing education and training is needed to maintain your certification.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Related to CAT scan technologists, MRI technologist use magnetic resonance imaging technology to create diagnostic images for physicians. Diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists use ultrasound technology to create sonograms used to diagnose medical problems. Nuclear medicine technologists use radioactive drugs and advanced equipment to detect malignant growths such as cancer.