Pros and Cons of a CT Scan Engineer Career
CT scan engineers handle certain types of medical equipment, including installation, testing and servicing. Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of becoming a CT scan engineer to see if you would enjoy this career.
|Pros of a CT Scan Engineer Career|
|Faster-than-average job growth (30% from 2012-2022)*|
|High average salary of about $49,000 per year*|
|Variety in work tasks (fixing machinery, instructing others)**|
|Employment possible at many different places (hospitals, machinery companies, repair centers)*|
|Cons of a CT Scan Engineer Career|
|Work can be urgent and stressful*|
|May need to travel long distances*|
|Can be exposed to patient illnesses*|
|Might need to stay on call or work nights and weekends*|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*NET Online
Job Description and Duties
As a CT scan engineer, in addition to installing and maintaining medical equipment, you may also need to demonstrate and explain usage to technologists and other health care professionals. Routine maintenance can be an important part of your job, since this equipment needs to give accurate readings so that doctors can effectively treat patients. Other common job titles for the profession include medical equipment repairer and biomedical equipment technician.
In your work, you'll likely use a variety of hand and electronic tools, sometimes including specialized software. You might be trained in one particular type of equipment, such as the CT scanner, or in a wider variety of machinery. You could work at many different places, including hospitals, wholesale manufacturing plants and machinery repair stores.
Salary Info and Job Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of all medical equipment repairers is expected to grow by 30% in 2012-2022, which is much faster than average. This growth can be attributed to both an increased need for healthcare and increased complexity in medical machinery. Job opportunities should be best for those who have associate's degrees and are willing to relocate.
In May 2014, medical equipment repairers made an average salary of around $49,000 per year, which is higher than average for associate's degree holders. The top-paying states were Utah, Arizona and Alaska, while Minnesota had the highest concentration of jobs in the profession.
An associate's degree is usually the preferred level of education for an imaging engineer, according to the BLS, though some positions might require candidates to have a bachelor's degree. Most CT scan engineers study biomedical equipment technology or engineering in school, though those who work on less-complex pieces of equipment may be able to learn entirely through on-the-job training. In your education, you may be able to specialize in CT imaging systems or other specific machinery. In general, all CT scan engineers should have the following basic skills and abilities:
- Physical dexterity
- Stamina and endurance
- Technical and troubleshooting skills
- Good time-management skills
Job Postings from Real Employers
Employers frequently look for CT scan engineers with multiple years of experience. Those with a certification may be preferred. While the following list is not exhaustive, it is a representative sample of the job postings for CT scan engineers available on Careerbuilder.com in June 2012:
- A medical equipment company looked for an imaging engineer for a Connecticut location. At least five years of experience were required, and a bachelor's degree in engineering technology was preferred. Duties included installing and repairing medical imaging equipment and advising other staff in the same procedures.
- A health care organization advertised for an imaging engineer to work in Boston. Main duties involved performing maintenance and testing on a variety of medical equipment. The posting stated that applicants with an associate's degree and certification were preferred, and that the ideal candidate must have 3-5 years of relevant experience.
- An Illinois health care company sought an imaging engineer with an associate's degree or equivalent technical training. The position involved performing preventive maintenance on equipment and consulting with health care providers on how to use equipment. Weekend or holiday work might be necessary.
How to Stand Out
Earning certification can show potential employers that you have the experience and education that they're looking for. The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation offers three certifications in theoretical and practical knowledge in this field. You can become a Certified Biomedical Equipment Technician, Certified Radiology Equipment Specialist or Certified Laboratory Equipment Specialist. To qualify, you need to have a combination of education and work experience in the field. The certification exam comprises multiple-choice questions on anatomy, public safety, electronic fundamentals and healthcare information technology.
Other Fields to Consider
If you'd prefer not to work in medical facilities around ill and injured people, there are other careers where your interests and skills still apply. Rather than working on medical equipment, you could pursue a career working with office machinery as a computer, ATM and office machine repairer. BLS statistics show that employment growth for these professionals is expected to be slow from 2010-2020 (at 7%). However, you can enter the field with just a high school diploma or postsecondary certificate instead of spending two years earning an associate's degree to become a CT scan engineer. Workers in this profession brought in an average salary of around $38,000 as of May 2011, according to the BLS.
On the other hand, if you know you want to work with medical machines in a health care setting, you could also pursue a career as a radiation therapist. In this position, you would follow the instructions of an oncology team to administer radiation therapy to cancer patients by projecting high-energy rays at cancer cells. An associate's or bachelor's degree might be necessary. But employment is expected to grow 20% from 2010-2020, and the field had a mean annual wage of about $79,000 as of May 2011, according to the BLS.