How Do I Become an X-Ray Technician?

You can become an x-ray technician by completing an accredited education program, becoming certified, obtaining a license, and finding a job in a hospital, diagnostic imaging laboratory, or other medical office. X-ray technicians are also referred to as radiologic technologists, since many x-ray technicians do more than take x-rays. Schools offering Cardiovascular Sonography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

Radiologic technologists, also known as x-ray technicians, operate equipment such as an x-ray machine to perform diagnostic tests on patients. Learn more about the education and skills needed to work in this field.

Important Information About This Occupation

Median Salary (2018) $28.62/hour or $59,520/year (for radiologic technologists)
Employment Outlook 12%, faster than average
Key Skills Detail oriented, interpersonal skills, math skills, technical skills, and physical stamina
Work Environments Hospitals, medical centers, diagnostic imaging centers, and dental offices
Continuing Education Students can take additional courses and learn other types of imaging technologies, such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), mammography, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education and Training

The first step toward becoming an x-ray technician, more commonly called a radiologic technologist, is finding an accredited radiography program. Community colleges, technical schools, and some vocational schools have two- or four-year degree programs. As a radiologic technician, you'll learn how to use state-of-the-art x-ray equipment that takes images of bones or organs inside the body; these images assist doctors in diagnosis and treatment.

Program and Course Information

An associate's degree is required for most entry-level x-ray technician jobs and is considered a terminal degree for the field. Your studies will include coursework, informative lectures, and hands-on experience with state-of-the-art technologies in a professional and simulated environment. Programs typically take two years to complete and cover the following essential topics:

  • Medical terminology
  • Ethics in medicine
  • Imaging equipment
  • Current techniques in radiographic imaging
  • Clinical radiography
  • Quality control
  • Safety and protection
  • Diagnostic and therapeutic radiography

Certification and Licensure

After completing an educational program in radiography, you may pursue certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. This credential is accepted by many states that require radiological technologists to be licensed. Contact your state board of health for more information about licensure and a license application.

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