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Radiographer: Career and Salary Facts

Explore the career requirements for radiographers. Get the facts about job duties, education requirements, salary and employment outlook to determine if this is the right career for you.

What Is a Radiographer?

A radiographer, also known as a radiologic technologist, uses diagnostic imaging machinery under a physician's orders to record images on film, video or computer. This often means producing x-ray images, but radiographers might also use computed tomography (CT) machinery. Radiographers can specialize in a particular area of medicine, such as bone imagery or mammography. No matter the specialization, however, physicians use a radiographer's images of bones, organs, tissues and vessels to diagnose medical conditions.

The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Associate's degree most common; certificate and bachelor's degree programs also available
Education Field of Study Radiologic technology
Key Responsibilities Guide patient through x-ray process, including positioning; follow protocols to limit radiation exposure to patients & self
Licensure Required Most states require licensing, requirements vary by state; voluntary certification available
Job Growth (2018-2028) 9%*
Average Salary (2018) $59,520*

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

What Job Responsibilities Might I Perform?

As a radiographer, you arrange patients so the correct part of the body can be x-rayed. You place equipment at the appropriate position and distance from the body part. You tell patients about the x-ray process and make sure they remain still during the procedure. You take precautions to limit unnecessary radiation exposure to patients and yourself.

Working as a radiographer, you process the x-ray films so that the doctor can view them. You study the x-ray images captured on film, computer or video to make sure they are of good quality. Your responsibilities may include gathering information from patients about their medical history.

What Education Will I Need?

You must get radiography training in an accredited program at a university, college, technical school or hospital. Most radiologic technologists possess an associate's degree, but you might choose to pursue a bachelor's degree or certificate. Courses teach you about x-ray images and equipment, medical terms, how the human body works, radiation safety, patient care procedures, radiation biology and radiation physics. You might choose to specialize in mammography or computed tomography by seeking more training and experience.

Most states mandate licensing for radiologic technologists, but the requirements differ by state. In general, to become licensed, technologists must graduate from an accredited program and must pass an exam from the state or from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Certification can boost your prospects of getting hired as a radiographer. You can voluntarily seek certification from the ARRT.

What Salary Could I Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), radiologic technologists earned an average yearly wage of $59,520 as of May 2018 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reports that job opportunities for radiologic technologists are expected to grow approximately 9% between 2018 and 2028, which is faster than the average for all U.S. occupations.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Another job in the field of radiation science is radiation therapy. It is possible to become a radiation therapist by earning an associate's degree, and you will then work to treat patients with cancer or other diseases using radiation treatments. Another option with similar educational requirements is diagnostic medical sonography. A diagnostic medical sonographer uses machinery to conduct tests that help a physician make diagnoses and treatment decisions.