Dosimetrist: Career Summary, Job Outlook, and Education Requirements

Research what it takes to become a dosimetrist. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Cardiovascular Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Dosimetrist Do?

Dosimetrists are medical specialists who determine what dosage of radiation a particular cancer patient should receive. They consult with radiation therapists and radiation oncologists on treatment plans. Often they are responsible for maintaining equipment and making sure computer software is set properly to give the correct amount of treatment. They also monitor the effectiveness of treatment and keep treatment records. See the table below for additional information:

Degree RequiredBachelor's degree; certificate program for further training
Education Field of StudyRadiation therapy, radiologic technology
Key ResponsibilitiesCalculate radiation dosage for treatment planning; monitor radioactivity exposure, equipment settings, and patient reactions to treatment; comply with quality assurance (QA) requirements; perform radiation dosimetry services
CertificationVoluntary certification available from the Medical Dosimetrist Certification Board
Job Growth (2018-2028)9% for radiation therapists*
Median Salary (2018)$98,782**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

What Is a Dosimetrist?

Your duties as a dosimetrist include measuring radiation doses, consulting with radiation therapists and radiation oncologists on treatment plans and ways of limiting radiation exposure, monitoring the effectiveness of treatment and keeping treatment records. Your medical training needs to include knowledge of brachytherapy and the proper use of radiation equipment and technology.

You must be able to work independently and have a good understanding of rules regarding radiation safety. You'll need strong computer skills as well as a working knowledge of calculus, trigonometry and algebra. The ability to visualize objects in three-dimensional forms will help you in your work.

Where Will I Work?

General hospitals, cancer treatment centers, outpatient clinics, medical schools and physicians' offices are your likely employers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that approximately 18,600 people worked as radiation therapists in 2018. Employment in radiation treatment positions was projected to grow 9% between 2018 and 2028, a rate that's faster than average, due to a growing elderly population, falling costs and improved treatment effectiveness. According to PayScale.com, dosimetrists' salaries ranged between $78,607 and $132,793 a year as of 2019.

What Training Do I Need?

A bachelor's degree in radiation therapy or in radiologic technology provides you with good training to work as a dosimetrist. These programs cover subjects such as radiation physics, radiation biology, imaging techniques and safety methods. Many allow you to specialize in dosimetry. Through a combination of classroom instruction and clinical work, you'll learn how to provide safe, effective patient care. You'll also develop analytical skills and competence in planning treatments.

Upon completion of your degree, you may want to consider a certificate program. These 12-to 18-month programs provide further instruction in cancer biology, treatment planning, dosimetry physics and brachytherapy. It also includes a number of clinical rotations to give you hands-on lab and patient experience.

Once you've gained enough experience, you may want to consider certification from The Medical Dosimetrist Certification Board. You'll need to meet eligibility requirements and pass a nine-part examination. You'll need a bachelor's degree in a relevant subject, two years of supervised dosimetry experience and 12 hours of continuing education credits.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Some related careers include those of diagnostic medical sonographers, nuclear medicine technologists and radiologic and MRI technologists. Diagnostic medical sonographers use medical sonographic technology to take images that physicians use for diagnoses. In addition to operating equipment that administers radioactive drugs, nuclear medicine technologists operate radiologic equipment to take medical images. Radiologic and MRI technologists also use radiologic imaging techniques, such as x-rays or MRI, to make diagnostic images. All of these careers require at least an associate's degree, and certification may be required by some employers.

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