Oncology Technician: Career Profile, Employment Outlook, and Educational Requirements
Research what it takes to become an oncology technician. Learn about job duties, education requirements, average salary, and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you.
What Is an Oncology Technician?
An oncology technician helps administer radiation and pharmaceutical therapies to cancer patients. As part of a team of oncologists, you will be tasked with a variety of work when helping patients. When administering radiation, it will be your responsibility to ensure patient safety by measuring out the amount and duration of radiation applied. When administering pharmaceuticals, you will need to give correct dosages relevant to a patient's medical history and other treatments they may be undergoing.
The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.
|Degree Required||Associate degree required for certification; Bachelor's recommended|
|Education Field of Study||Radiation therapy|
|Certification||Certification required in many states|
|Job Outlook (2018-2028)||9% for radiation therapists*|
|Average Salary (2018)||$86,730 for radiation therapists*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Would I Do as an Oncology Technician?
As an oncology technician, you work as part of a medical radiation oncology team that combines radiation therapy and pharmaceuticals to treat cancer patients. Because a technician can assist in any of these roles, you may have many different duties. Radiation therapy involves the use of radioactive rays to locate and destroy cancer cells. It is often your responsibility to ensure that the patient's safety is maintained throughout this procedure.
Your duties as an oncology technician may also encompass pharmaceutical applications. Chemotherapy is a major pharmaceutical method you may use in oncology treatments. In this role, you will administer and measure out drugs to be used in cancer treatments. This often involves understanding patient laboratory information such as metabolic panels.
What Education Do I Need?
Becoming an oncology technician does not require you to earn any specific degree, although you should consider completing a program in radiation therapy that is recognized by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). A bachelor's degree program in radiation therapy that is recognized by the ARRT may require you to take courses in radiography, dosimetry, anatomy, clinical oncology, and medical imaging. The ARRT is a certifying body that allows you to become a certified registered radiation therapist. The certification is required in many states and requires at least an associate's degree in radiation therapy.
What is the Expected Job Outlook?
The career outlook for radiation therapists in general is expected to be good, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Jobs in this industry are expected to increase by 9% between 2018 and 2028. A growing elderly population and safer radiation technologies will be the main contributors to employment growth in the future. Physicians' offices, hospitals, and outpatient clinics should see the largest employment for therapists.
How Much Might I Earn?
As of May 2018, the BLS reported that radiation therapists earned an average annual salary of $86,730. The majority of these workers made between $56,360 and $124,320 annually.
What Are Some Similar Careers?
Dental hygienists perform teeth cleaning for patients and help spot gum disease while promoting good oral hygiene. Nuclear medicine technologists use radioactive drugs as a means of internal imagining within patients. Radiologic and MRI technologists use different forms of radiation for diagnostic imaging examinations.