How to Become a CAT Scan Technologist in 5 Steps

Explore the career requirements for CAT scan technologists. Get the facts about job duties, education requirements, licensing and salary to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Cardiovascular Sonography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What does a CAT Scan Technologist do?

As a CAT scan technologist, you'd use noninvasive computerized medical exams to take images used to diagnose, evaluate and treat a variety of medical issues. You'd be responsible for making sure imaging equipment is properly calibrated, checking that settings are where they need to be for an upcoming scan. You are responsible for preparing patients for scans as well. Given that physicians use these images to make a diagnosis, it is key to follow their instructions and get the exact image they need. When doing scans it is also very important to be aware of and follow all safety procedures. The following chart gives an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Associate's degree
Education Field of Study Radiography, diagnostic medical sonography, nuclear medicine technology
Key Responsibilities Prepare patients for and perform CAT scan imaging procedures; work with doctors to analyze images; keep patient records
Licensure/Certification Licensing and/or certification required in some states
Job Growth (2014-2024) 9% (radiologic technologists)*
Median Salary (2015) $56,670 (radiologic technologists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a CAT Scan?

A computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan is a high resolution picture of organs, soft tissue and bones. These images are more detailed than an X-ray and can be used to diagnose abnormalities and problems in almost all areas of the body.

Step 1: Research CAT Scan Technologist Duties

Generally, your duties as a CAT scan technologist include preparing and operating diagnostic machines, keeping patient records, and positioning patients so that CAT scan images are clear. If the image is hazy or unclear, you need to perform the procedure again. Before a patient goes through a CAT scan, you describe the procedure in detail and answer any questions they may have.

Since you are a certified radiologic technologist, you may also complete ultrasounds and other radiology procedures. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2015, radiologic technologists, including CAT scan technologists, earned an average salary of $56,670.

Step 2: Obtain a High School Diploma

You need to complete high school before you can enter a radiography degree program. In high school, you benefit from a technical foundation in math, science and computer science. Electives in biology and psychology may also be beneficial.

Step 3: Earn an Associate's Degree

Your career opportunities are better with an associate degree in radiography, diagnostic medical sonography or nuclear medicine technology. These programs train you in medical terminology, healthcare systems, radiology procedures, radiology equipment, patient care and anatomy. These programs also include a clinical practicum.

Step 4: Become a Certified CAT Scan Technologist

A voluntary certification is offered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (www.arrt.org). After you complete the initial certification, an annual renewal is required. Certified by the ARRT means you can enroll in a CAT or CT certificate program to become a CAT scan technologist. These programs last from six months to a year. Programs allow students to complete the clinical training requirements needed to sit for the ARRT certification exam.

Step 5: Obtain State Licensure

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most states have individual licensing requirements (www.bls.gov). You can seek more information about your state's licensing requirements through the American Society of Radiologic Technologists.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

A few careers related to CAT scan technologists include diagnostic medical sonographers, nuclear medicine technologists and radiation therapists. Diagnostic medical sonographers are also responsible for creating diagnostic images for physicians, but they specialize in using ultrasound equipment rather than computerized axial tomography. Nuclear medicine technologists create diagnostic images of abnormal growths using radioactive drugs and imagining equipment. Radiation therapists operate radiologic equipment that administers radiation therapy. An associate's degree will allow you to enter any of these careers.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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