Mammography Careers: Salary and Job Facts

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

What Does a Mammographer Do?

Mammographers are specialized radiologic technologists who use x-ray equipment to create images that can be used to diagnose and evaluate breast conditions, such as cancer. Mammograms may be conducted as screening tests on patients who show no symptoms, or they may be used to diagnose patients who demonstrate clinical abnormalities, like breast lumps. Doctors may also order tests for patients who have already been diagnosed in order to evaluate the extent of the disease. Mammographers are responsible for preparing patients for tests, which could entail explaining procedures and taking measures to protect them from unnecessary exposure to radiation. They also operate the machinery and evaluate the quality of images with doctors. They might be tasked with maintaining equipment and keeping track of patients' records as well.

Take a look at the following chart for an overview of how to enter this field.

Degree Required Associate's or bachelor's degree, graduate certificate
Education Field of Study Radiologic technology
Key Responsibilities Take patient medical history; guide patient through mammography procedures; use x-ray imaging equipment; follow safety protocols to protect self & others
Licensure/Certification Licensing & certification required by some states; all states require radiography registration
Job Growth (2014-2024 ) 9% (for all radiologic technologists)*
Average Salary (2015) $58,920 (for all radiologic technologists)*

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

What Is a Mammographer?

Mammographers use breast imaging equipment and other technology to capture accurate images of the breast and surrounding areas. Test results help physicians diagnose medical conditions and diseases, such as cancer, in breast tissue. Mammographers prepare and position patients for the procedures and analyze patient clinical history. They must use machinery correctly to produce an accurate image of the breast tissue and to meet standards of safety. As a mammographer, you might find jobs in hospitals, clinics, laboratories, outpatient care centers and diagnostic imaging centers.

What Should I Study?

Technologists working in mammography are radiographers, or x-ray technicians, who have specialized in mammography. You must be a registered radiologist through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) or through your state, or be certified in general radiography by an FDA-approved organization to work in mammography.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), aspiring mammographers might earn a graduate certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree in radiologic technology (www.bls.gov). In an Associate of Science in Radiography program, courses might include anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, patient assessment methods, radiographic procedures, radiographic pathology and imaging principles.

Should I Get Certified?

For most mammography positions, you need certification in both radiography and mammography. Some states also require licensing and/or certification. The ARRT awards certification in mammography to applicants who meet the educational and ethical standards. You must take an examination that tests the knowledge and skills needed to perform a mammographer's duties. The ARRT also requires documentation of field experience practicing mammography in a clinical setting. To maintain your certification, you will need to complete 24 continuing education requirements every two years.

What Could I Earn?

According to the BLS, in May 2015, the average annual wage of radiologic technologists, including mammographers, was about $58,520. Further, the BLS expects radiologic technologists in general to experience a 9% increase in employment between 2014 and 2024, which is faster than the average for all U.S. occupations.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you're interested in a career in radiation-based diagnostic testing, you do not necessarily need to specialize in mammography. Some radiologic technologists take images of body parts other than the breast, and they may use x-rays, CT scanners or MRI machines. For those who want to work specifically with cancer patients, another option is a job as a radiation therapist. These professionals use linear scanning machines to deliver radiation to tumors. The job requires an associate's degree and, in most cases, a license.

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