Health Diagnostic and Treatment Services
The field of health diagnostic and treatment services includes many allied health jobs, such as cardiovascular or radiologic tech. Read about education and earnings for diagnostic providers here, as well as what to expect in terms of future employment.
Are Health Diagnostic and Treatment Services for Me?
Formal training in health diagnostic and treatment services may lead to a career as a cardiovascular technologist or cardiovascular technician, diagnostic medical sonographer or radiologic technologist. As a cardiovascular technologist, you'll diagnose and treat ailments of the heart and blood vessels; areas of specialization include invasive or non-invasive cardiac and peripheral vascular care. In your position as a technician, you might focus on stress testing or electrocardiograms. As a diagnostic medical sonographer, you'll use special equipment to direct high-frequency sound waves to specific areas of a patient's body to record or photograph images.
If you decide to pursue a career in radiologic technology, your responsibilities might include taking x-rays, mammographs and other types of diagnostic images, according to strict guidelines. In addition to preparing patients for procedures and maintaining patient records, you might conduct complex procedures, such as fluoroscopies, which allow doctors to examine the body's soft tissues. Areas of specialization can include computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging or mammography. As a radiologic technician, you'll need to be aware of radiation hazards and protect yourself appropriately.
Employment and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for cardiovascular technologists and technicians were expected to increase by 30% nationwide from 2012-2022, while prospects for diagnostic medical sonographers were projected to grow by 46%. During the same 10-year period, employment of radiologic technologists was expected to increase by 21%.
As reported by the BLS in May 2013, the median annual salary for cardiovascular technologists and technicians was $53,210, while diagnostic medical sonographers earned $66,410 (www.bls.gov). Based upon information provided by O*NET OnLine in 2013, a service of the U.S. Department of Labor, radiologic technologists and technicians earned median annual salaries of $55,200 and $40,900 respectively (www.onetonline.org).
How Can I Work in Health Diagnostic and Treatment Services?
A bachelor's degree in allied health technologies with a concentration in nuclear medicine, respiratory care, vascular technology or diagnostic medical sonography may help you prepare for a job in health diagnostic and treatment services. In addition to completing a general education core, you'll take courses in anatomy and physiology, biology, chemistry, physics and medical terminology. To fulfill the requirements for your area of concentration, you may also study radiography and imaging.
Physical stamina is key to working as an allied health professional, since you'll spend most of your time on your feet, working under stressful conditions in hospitals and health clinics. Reliability, the ability to follow instructions and communication skills are also important in this field.
While additional credentials for diagnostic and treatment services professionals are often voluntary, the BLS states that many employers prefer to hire those who have earned professional certification. Requirements include completion of a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT), as well as a passing score on an exam.
For example, if your area of specialization is cardiology technology, you may seek certification from the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) or Cardiovascular Credentialing International. A career in diagnostic medical sonography may benefit from a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer credential.
If you choose to specialize in vascular and breast sonography, then you should seek credentials through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Although requirements can vary from state to state, most radiologic technologists need to be licensed; voluntary certifications are also available from the ARRT.