Radiology Technician: Career Summary, Occupational Outlook, and Educational Requirements

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

What Is a Radiology Technician?

Radiology technicians are now more commonly referred to as radiologic technologists or radiographers. These are licensed medical professionals who, through the use of x-rays, produce images of internal organs, bones and other structures, for diagnostic and treatment purposes. They work under the supervision of and in cooperation with physicians. Take a look at the following chart for some specific details about how to get into and the outlook for this career.

Degree Required Associate's
Education Field of Study Radiography
Key Responsibilities Preparing patients for their imaging procedures, performing the procedures, following safety precautions
Licensure and Certification Licensure required, certification optional
Job Growth (2014-24) 9% (faster than average) for radiologic technologists*
Median Salary (May 2015) $56,670 for radiologic technologists*

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

What Do Radiology Technicians Do?

Radiology technicians perform X-rays on patients in order to diagnose diseases. As a radiology technician, you help adjust the equipment to ensure quality exams, prepare patients for radiological imaging procedures, follow safety precautions and review patient records. Besides X-rays, experienced radiology technicians perform mammograms and fluoroscopies, which allow doctors to view the patient's soft tissues.

What Degree Should I Get?

There are a number of programs that prepare you for a career in radiology technology. Popular programs include a 2-year associate's degree or a 4-year bachelor's degree program in radiography.

An associate's degree typically takes two years to complete. The curriculum covers topics involving human anatomy and physiology. You also learn how to work with patients by taking courses in psychology, methods of patient care and patient assessment. Additionally, you gain experience with medical equipment by studying practical radiographic procedures, medical terminology, radiation protection and radiographic imaging.

The bachelor's degree in radiography covers topics in anatomy, radiation physics, medical terminology, medical ethics, radiobiology and pathology. This advanced 4-year degree prepares you to handle more complex and specialized procedures such as MRI and CT procedures, as well as addressing problems in medical imaging.

If you already hold a medical degree in nursing or a related field, you can also prepare for a career in radiology by earning a professional certificate in radiology.

What Other Requirements Do I Need?

Federal requirements require radiology technicians to be licensed; however, the requirements for the license depend on the state. Check with your state to find out more about the specific requirements for the license.

The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) offers radiology technologists professional certification. Although the certification is not required, it offers employers proof of professional knowledge and standards. Radiology technicians who work in hospitals and other critical care facilities may also be required to obtain a Basic Cardiac Life Support (BCLS) card.

What is the Outlook for my Career and Wages?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015, the middle half of radiology technologists earned $45,870 to $69,480 a year. Medical and surgical hospitals and doctors' offices employ most radiology technologists.

From 2014-2024, employment prospects for radiology technologists were expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations at 9%, reported the BLS, which attributed the projected growth to our aging population and federal legislation that will increase access to health insurance.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Radiation therapists are medical professionals who use the application of radiation as a treatment or therapy for diseases such as cancer. Nuclear medicine technologists use the application of radioactive drugs in order to highlight abnormalities in a target area of a patient's body for diagnosis and treatment. Diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists use ultrasound to create images of a target area or internal structure. An associate's degree is the minimum requirement for each of these occupations.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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