A radiographer or radiology technologist usually works in a hospital or private clinic where they use complex technology to produce highly detailed X-rays of body parts to help doctors to diagnose and treat conditions. It requires in-depth knowledge of the human body as well as technical skills and the soft skills required to work with other medical professionals. The career is an interesting and challenging one that makes a real difference in the lives of people who are suffering, but how does a person become a radiologic technologist? If you are considering a career as a radiologic technologist, this article may help you to map out your path.
Some people who decide early in their education that they want to become radiologic technologists will choose subjects that are related to the field. This might include biology, advanced mathematics, anatomy, physics, or chemistry.
Then, the most common first step in a radiologic technologist’s career is to get an associate degree from an accredited radiography program. These courses include coursework on a range of key skills, including image evaluation, as well as a theoretical study of pathology, radiation, physics, and anatomy. Many states also insist that radiologic technologists are licensed. This means that after graduating from an accredited associate degree course, they need to complete a certification exam. The exam may be organized by the state or the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology. Once certified, every two years, technologists are also required to complete continuing education courses in order to maintain their certification.
Advancing your career
Once qualified, certified, and practicing a radiologic technologist may decide to specialize in a particular type of diagnostic test, e.g., mammography, MRIs, cardiac radiography, vascular sonography, or bone densitometry. This may require additional training and certification.
To progress their career, maximize their salary, and potentially take on more responsibility, some radiologic technologists go on to complete a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Technology. If they have an associate degree, this can be done via an accelerated online course so they can study in their spare time while continuing to work.
Related careers you could consider
Many people who begin their careers as general radiologic technologists choose to advance their careers into other fields such as diagnostic medical sonography (producing images of organs or tissue via ultrasounds or sonograms). Another possible path is radiation therapy, treating people with diseases like cancer. These positions require more training but often offer higher earning potential.
Future employment prospects
Demand for radiologic technologists is expected to rise by at least 9% between now and 2030, with the average salary in 2020 being $62,000 on average, rising up to $92,000 in some cases. Once a technologist has graduated and been certified, they can be employed by a clinic, hospital, or another healthcare environment. While, historically, most radiologic technologists have been employed by hospitals for the majority of their careers, there is expected to be an increase in the demand for radiologic technologists in private clinics and outpatient centers.