Imaging Research Degrees: Associates, Training & Online Course Info

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What will you learn in an imaging research program? Read about degree and training program requirements, the pros and cons of an associate's degree and training and potential careers.
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Studying Imaging Research: Degree and Training Programs at a Glance

Students interested in imaging research can earn a degree in radiologic technology and prepare for a career as a radiologic technologist. Job growth is expected to be good in this diagnostic medical field, better than average across all occupations, actually, 21% vs. 11% from 2012-2022, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; 2012 median wages for radiologic technologists were higher than average as well. This may be one of the reasons that admission to associate's degree and training programs is highly competitive. Graduates of associate's degree program may qualify for the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification exam and entry into the job market, or continuing education at the bachelor's degree level. Some states require licensing.

Associate's Training
Who is this degree for? Individuals interested in employment as radiologic technologist Same
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) Radiologic technologist ($54,620)* Same
Time to Completion Minimum of two years (varies by program) Two years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Classes
- Lab training
- Clinical assignments
- Classes
- Lab training
- Clinical training
Prerequisites - High school diploma or equivalent - Minimum of associate's degree
-Interview
- Background check
Online Availability None at this time None at this time

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2012 figures).

Associate's Degree in Imaging Research

Degrees in this field may be granted in imaging science, diagnostic medical imaging, radiologic science or a related field. Schools that offer these degree programs typically have a limited number of available seats. In addition to academic qualifications such as a high school diploma or the equivalent, applicants must also be prepared to undergo an interview, a physical and background check, complete placement testing, and participate in a documented observation experience where prospective students visit a local radiology department. Students may also be required to have CPR certification.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Graduates are prepared for employment and professional credentialing or continued education
  • Imaging research careers can pay more than average - radiologic technologists earned a median salary of roughly $55,000 in 2012, per the BLS, while the average across all occupations was about $35,000**

Cons

  • Admission requirements demand a high school diploma or equivalent plus prerequisite classes
  • Tuition and fees don't include required uniforms
  • You may be competing for jobs with candidates who completed only a 2-year hospital training program

Source: BLS.

Courses and Requirements

You'll study anatomy and physiology of the human body through lectures and lab sessions. Many programs also require psychology and sociology courses, because much of the work that's done in this field includes direct patient contact. You'll also participate in clinical training and off-site clinical assignments where you'll be able to perform the practical skills you've learned under supervision. Acquired skills include positioning patients and enforcing any required safety measures, along with taking patient histories and operating diagnostic machinery. Clinical training also includes preparing films for review by senior medical staff, such as physicians. Graduates may be qualified to sit for the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification exam upon completing the program.

Class you can expect to take include:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Medical terminology
  • Patient care
  • Foundations in radiologic sciences
  • Radiation physics and equipment use
  • Radiographic positioning
  • Image production

Some schools also offer a review class in your final semester to help you prepare for the ARRT exam. Others require a final seminar class.

Online Degree Options

Because of the hands-on nature of the learning required for an imaging research program, online degree options are extremely rare. Working radiographers who already hold an associate's degree in the field and meet their state's licensing or certification requirements may be able to enroll in a bachelor's degree completion program.

Stand Out

Earning CPR certification can help you stand out in a job search; a survey of job postings from August 2014 found that it wasn't uncommon for employers to indicate that this credential was preferred. Some employers also desired candidates willing to travel among hospitals or clinical service sites in a given area or region.

Other Degrees

Diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians must also complete an associate's degree program to qualify for employment. While the technology used differs, the role of this healthcare professional in assisting physicians with making diagnoses is similar. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in this field are expected to increase at a faster rate than those for radiologic technologists - an increase of 39% from 2012-2022. This career also paid a higher median annual wage in 2012, $60,350, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Training Programs in Imaging Research

Full-time study includes tandem classroom learning and clinical training that may culminate with a certificate. These training programs are usually hospital-based. Seats are typically limited and admission is competitive, based on academics, an interview, and soft skills like patient care experience. You'll need to have at least an associate's degree to qualify for admission. It doesn't need to be in a healthcare field, so this is a viable preparation path for career-changers; however, you will need to have completed required prerequisite courses such as anatomy and physiology, psychology, plus a foundation class in radiologic sciences or the equivalent. Other admission requirements are similar to those of associate's degree programs, such as background checks and physicals, and placement testing.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Program can be completed in two years
  • Completion qualifies graduates to sit for ARRT exam
  • Required prerequisite degree doesn't need to be in the field

Cons

  • Competitive admission
  • Associate's degree is minimum prerequisite education
  • Requires additional financial investment, such as uniforms and shoes
  • May not be eligible for financial aid

Courses and Requirements

Completion of the program requires a minimum GPA in your classes and successful completion of all clinical training components. The curriculum covers the same subjects as associate's degree programs, and includes classes on anatomy and physiology as well as math and physics. Foundation classes include lecture and lab components. Hands-on learning experiences will teach you how to use imaging equipment and how to prepare patients for procedures. Tasks such as taking down patient histories, exam recordkeeping, and handling captured images are also practiced by students.

Typical courses you may take include:

  • Medical terminology
  • Radiology positioning and equipment operation
  • Physics
  • Patient care
  • Digital imaging processing

You may also have the chance to complete a review class in your final term to prepare for the ARRT exam.

Online Degree Options

There are no formal online training programs for aspiring imaging research professionals at this time. Preparation for a career in this field requires significant hands-on learning that needs to be completed in-person. You may find that some schools offer courses online that can meet your prerequisite requirements, such as math or anatomy.

Stand Out

Generally speaking, graduates of training programs are qualified for the same jobs as those who complete associate's degree programs; the opportunities for getting ahead are roughly the same. Employers, based on August 2014 job postings, may prefer candidates who hold CPR certification and are willing to travel.

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Herzing University

  • Associate of Science - Business Management
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Ashford University

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Kaplan University

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Colorado Technical University

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Everest

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Virginia College

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American InterContinental University

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Indiana Wesleyan University

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  • A.S. General Studies - Business

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