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Medical Radiography Diploma and Degree Programs

Learn how you could become a medical radiographer and take X-rays. Read about radiography program options, check the other requirements for this career, and get information on earning certification and advancing in medical radiography.

What is Medical Radiography?

Medical radiography is the process of imaging parts of the human body using X-rays; these images are used by doctors to identify medical problems. As a radiographer or radiologic technologist, you prepare patients for imaging by ensuring that they are in the right position and shielded from excess radiation. You take X-rays and process the images. You may prepare solutions necessary for enhancing an image, such as during a fluoroscopy. Additionally, you keep patient records and maintain X-ray equipment.

To work as a radiographer in most states, you need a state-issued radiographer's license. State licensing requirements vary.

Job Duties Imaging parts of the human body using X-rays, processing images and patient records, maintaining equipment
Program Choices Diploma, certificate, associate's, bachelor's, and master's degree
Common Courses Radiology, physiology, radiography, radiation safety, pharmacology
Certification Requirement Available through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists
Potential Careers X-ray technician, radiographer
Career Advancement Radiologist assistant; requires certification, experience, and master's degree
Median Salary (2018) $59,520 (for all radiologic technologists)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 12% growth (for all radiologic technologists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are My Degree and Diploma Options?

Many schools offer medical radiography or radiologic technology diploma, certificate and degree programs. Some hospitals and medical centers also offer certificate programs in radiography. Specialized certificates in computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging are available through radiologic technology programs. If you have already earned a certificate in radiography and have professional certification, then you may be able to enroll in a bachelor's degree program in radiography. The option you choose may depend on your state's licensing requirements and your job requirements.

What Classes Will I Take?

Programs available from medical centers and hospitals may require that you complete prerequisite courses or hold an associate's degree before being admitted to the program. Courses included in your diploma, certificate or degree program may include anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, health care fundamentals, radiation safety, radiology, radiography and positioning. Additionally, you take hands-on clinical courses.

Certification

The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) offers certification in radiography. Eligibility for certification includes completing an accredited education program and passing an exam. Those who earn ARRT certification must meet continuing education requirements every two years to maintain the credential.

What Are My Career Options?

You might work as an X-ray technician in a medical setting, such as a doctor's office or hospital. Some diploma programs prepare you for a limited state license that would allow you to practice radiography under certain conditions, like only with direct supervision, or you may be limited to taking X-rays of specific parts of the body, such as only performing X-rays on extremities. Degree and certificate programs prepare you for a general radiographer's license and professional certification.

Advancement

If you wish to advance your career, you may become a radiologist assistant. Radiologist assistants perform advanced radiographic procedures with limited assessment capabilities. In order to become a radiologist assistant, you need to complete an educational program, usually a master's degree in radiology, obtain ARRT certification and have a year of experience in a clinical setting. With an educational background in radiography, you may be able to complete a radiologic assistant program online or via distance learning.