What Are the Requirements to Become a Mammography Tech?
Mammography technicians and technologists are radiologic technicians that focus their work in mammography. Here we discuss the necessary mammography schooling in detail, as well as some career details.
A mammography technician and a mammography technologist are interchangeable terms used to describe a radiology professional who has specialized in mammography. Mammography technicians must become a radiology technician first by earning an associate's degree or advanced certificate in radiologic technology and then specializing in mammography.
Associate's degree programs in radiologic technology typically take 2 years to complete and may offer some online coursework. These programs are designed to help prepare students for the American Registry of Radiologic Technology (ARRT) certification in radiography. Students must participate in hands-on training through laboratory work, clinical hours, and/or clinical practicum experiences. Other course topics may include:
- Radiography theory
- Anatomy and physiology
- Radiography clinicals
Some of these radiologic technology programs may offer additional coursework in mammography or students can pursue a certificate program in mammography to become a mammography technician. Certificate programs in mammography are usually designed for those already working as radiology technicians.
Mammographer Training and Certification
ARRT-certified radiology technicians interested in becoming a mammography technician must receive additional training in the field of mammography. These certificate programs give students hands-on experience with specialized technology in the field, such as 3-D mammography and digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT). Students also learn how to position patients for exams, perform diagnostic procedures, check the quality of images taken, and problem-solve with exams.
After completing coursework or certification in mammography, students can pursue the ARRT national certification exam in mammography. This certification requires that applicants already hold ARRT certification in another field (typically radiology technician), meet education and clinical experience requirements, and pass an exam.
Mammography technicians may work in hospitals, doctor's offices, or other medical settings as they help perform mammograms. These technicians usually work full-time and may be required to be on their feet most of the day. Explore other aspects of a career as a mammogram technologist, including salary here.
Mammogram Technician Salary and Outlook
For September 2019, PayScale.com reported that the median hourly wage for a mammography technologist was $28.10. This equated to a median annual salary of $57,849.
Like any job, the website noted that salary could vary with factors like employer, location, skills, and work experience. Mammography technologists with 1 to 4 years of work experience reported a median hourly wage of $25.62, which increased over time; technologists with 20 years or more of work experience made an hourly wage of $30.93.
Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not report on the job outlook specifically for mammogram technologists, they do report a job outlook for radiologic technologists. For 2018 to 2028, the BLS reported a job outlook for these technologists of 9%, which is faster than average.
Mammogram Technician Job Duties
Mammogram technicians are radiologic technicians that specialize in using low-dose x-ray systems to perform diagnostic imaging exams of the breast. Usually, these professionals report to a manager or chief technologist and work closely with doctors and other health professionals concerning a patient. Other job duties for mammography technicians may include:
- Maintaining patient records
- Adjusting imaging equipment as needed
- Discussing the process with patients and answering any questions
- Following physicians' instructions for images
- Using protective gear for x-rays
- Positioning patients
- Utilizing equipment to obtain diagnostic images
- Redoing images as necessary