How Can I Become a Mammographer?

Explore the career requirements for mammographers. Get the facts about education requirements, certifications 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 Is a Mammographer?

A mammographer is a specialized kind of radiologic technologist who uses machines that emit low-dose x-rays to create breast images. Physicians can use these exams to diagnose and evaluate the extent of breast diseases such as breast cancer; they may order mammograms as screening tests for women with no symptoms, diagnostic tests for women with abnormal findings such as breast lumps or evaluations for cancer patients who have already been diagnosed. Mammographers consult with patients about medical history prior to the procedure. During the test, they position the breast on the machine platform and compress it with a paddle in order to generate an ideal image. Then, they operate the machine to take the pictures that will be delivered to the doctor for analysis and interpretation.

Read the table below to discover more about the job.

Degree RequiredAssociate's degree is typical; certificate and bachelor's degree programs are also available
Education Field of StudyRadiologic Technology
LicensureRequired in some states for mammography specialty, along with proof of accredited training program, and registration with American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (AART)
Job Growth (2014-2024)9% (for all types of radiologic technologists)*
Annual Median Wage (2017)$66,580**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic, **Salary.com

What Does a Mammographer Do?

A mammographer is a radiologic technologist specially-trained in the field of mammography, which is taking digital pictures of the breast for detection of lumps or tumors. As a mammographer, you are trained in the use of state-of-the-art digital imaging technology as well as correct procedures for taking clear images. Other job duties include taking down patients' histories and conferring with doctors on results. You have the opportunity to work in a variety of places, such as clinics, doctor's offices and hospitals.

What Kind Of Education Do I Need?

Undergraduate Degree Programs in Radiologic Technology

You can earn an Associate of Science in Radiologic Technology or Associate of Applied Science in Radiologic Technology. Associate degree programs, which include study of mammography along with other forms of diagnostic imaging, generally take two years and blend necessary coursework with practical experience. You will learn equipment operation, digital imaging procedures, radiation safety and patient care.

You can also earn a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Technology. Bachelor's degree programs typically include more general educational requirements than an associate degree program. Bachelor's degree programs include course instruction and practical experience in a clinical setting. Bachelor's degree programs generally last four years. Some of the essential topics covered in these programs include the following:

  • Clinical radiography
  • Radiographic equipment
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Radiographic positioning

Certificate Programs in Mammography

A certificate program in mammography is a shorter course of study without the general education courses of an associate's or bachelor's degree program. You may want to consider a certificate program if you're a currently-practicing radiologic technologist looking for focused training in mammography. You will engage in practice in a laboratory environment and coursework where you will learn basic and advanced positioning, practices for early detection of breast cancer, how to take patient records and how to analyze digital images.

What Credentials Will I Need?

State requirements vary on licensure requirements for mammographers. Some states issue general credentials for radiologic technologists, while others may have separate credentials based on the technologist's specialty. You may be required to demonstrate proof that you've completed an accredited training program as well as proof of registration with the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). The ARRT also offers voluntary certification in mammography to demonstrate your skills to potential employers.

How Much Can I Expect to Earn?

The U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted a 9% growth in employment for radiologic technicians, a group that includes mammographers, for the 2014-2024 decade (www.bls.gov). According to Salary.com, in 2017, the median earnings for mammography technologists were $66,580. The bottom 10 percent earned less than $54,666, while the top ten percent earned over $78,741.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Not all radiologic technologist specialize in mammography; some also conduct diagnostic tests on other body parts, and they may use other radiation-based equipment, such as CT scanners or MRI scanners. Another relevant career is a job as a radiation therapist. After cancer has been diagnosed in the breast or another part of the body, radiation therapy may be prescribed. Therapists are responsible for operating the linear accelerator machine that delivers the radiation to the tumor cells. For this job, it is necessary to have at least an associate's degree and sometimes a license.

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