What Is the Employment Outlook for the Radiology Career Field?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts strong job growth for radiologic technologists and technicians from 2012 to 2022. The outlook is also good for other diagnostic imaging professions, such as mammography. Education requirements for radiology careers vary by job title, ranging from one-year certificate programs to professional degrees; however, a two-year associate's degree is the most common form of training in this field. Schools offering Cardiovascular Sonography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Overview

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) predicts job growth of 9% for radiology technologists throughout the 2014-2024 period, with hospitals, physicians' offices, and outpatient radiology and imaging clinics expected to be the largest employers. In the same industry, radiation therapists should see job opportunities increase by approximately 14% during the decade, while nuclear medicine technologists will see employment growth of about 2%. From patient care to management, the field of radiology offers several career paths, with a variety of duties and educational requirements.

Important Facts About Radiology Careers

Median Salary (2014) $55,870 (for radiologic technicians)
$80,090 (for radiation therapists)
$72,100 (for nuclear medicine technologists)
On-the-Job Training Not provided by any occupation listed, but work experience is acquired through time spent on the job
Key Skills Attention to detail, computer competency, physical endurance, critical and analytical thinking, problem solving, social nuance
Work Environment All occupations primarily work full-time with nuclear medicine technologists and radiology technicians also working evenings, weekends, or overnight

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Employment Options

Though the terms radiology technologist and technician are often used interchangeably, they are actually two different jobs. Radiologic technologists (RTs), also known as radiographers, are certified health professionals with extensive patient contact. They take x-rays and conduct other diagnostic imaging procedures which are interpreted by physicians known as radiologists. In contrast, radiologic technicians have limited patient contact and only dental technicians may take x-rays. Related patient care professions include:

  • Radiologic Assistant (RA)
  • Mammographer
  • Ultrasound technician

Education and Certification

Education, certification, and licensing requirements for radiology careers vary by profession. Radiologists are M.D.s who have attended medical school, while radiographers often have an associate or bachelor's degree in radiologic sciences. Technicians are often trained on the job, but many also complete certificate programs available through community colleges and vocational schools. Instructors and administrators often have master's degrees. Most employers require radiographers to be certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), and many states require technologists and technicians to be licensed. ARRT certification requirements include:

  • Completion of an accredited educational program
  • Compliance with ethical standards
  • A passing grade on the certification exam
  • Yearly registration to keep certification in force

Additional Career Paths

With additional training, many radiographers and technicians can broaden their skill sets and pursue new careers within the field. Radiographers may become radiographic assistants (RAs), gaining advanced patient care and diagnostic responsibilities. Some radiographers pursue credentialing in several diagnostic imaging procedures, including computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance (MR). Additional career paths include:

  • Teaching
  • Department management
  • Imaging equipment sales

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