Radiology Technician Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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Learn about a radiology technician's job description, salary information, training requirements and career outlook. Get straight talk about the pros and cons of a radiology technician career.
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The Pros and Cons of a Radiology Technician Career

In general terms, a radiology technician performs diagnostic imaging procedures on patients. They use x- ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) equipment to precisely follow physicians' orders and keep detailed patient records. Read about the pros and cons of this career ahead.

Pros of a Radiology Technician Career
Good salary payoff relative to training (median salary of around $55,000; associate's degree required)*
Healthy job outlook (21% growth from 2012-2022)*
Job location flexibility**
Opportunity to help solve problems and provide emotional support**

Cons of a Radiology Technician Career
Long hours may extend to weekends and evenings*
On-call duty may be necessary*
Radiation exposure hazards*
Possible exposure to illness and infection**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O Net Online.

Basic Career Information

Common Duties

Quite a few tasks are involved in the day-to-day work life of a radiology technician. In addition to following physicians' orders and preparing patients for the prescribed tests, you'll also perform maintenance and make adjustments to imaging equipment. After carrying out the recommended imaging procedure on a patient, you'll also need to confer with radiologists to decide if other images need to be taken.

As a part of preparing patients for their imaging procedures, you might have to explain procedures in order to reduce anxiety. You'll also need to take measures to protect the patient and yourself from harmful radiation during imaging procedures. Radiology technicians might occasionally prepare a mixture for patients to drink that allows certain tissues to be seen on imaging machines.

Salary Information and Career Outlook

As of May 2014, the BLS reported a median annual salary of about $55,200 for radiologic technologists and technicians. The BLS also projects a very healthy job outlook for radiologic technologists and technicians, with overall employment expected to increase by 21% from 2010-2020. An increasing emphasis on outpatient care should allow for more radiologic technician positions in physicians' offices and imaging centers.

Requirements

Radiology technicians typically have a minimum of an associate's degree in radiography. You'll receive both classroom and clinical training while studying radiography, and your coursework will likely emphasize anatomy, pathology and radiation protection. Most states require licensing or certification to become a radiologic technologist or technician. In most states, you'll need to graduate from an accredited program and pass a certification exam to be licensed in radiologic technology.

You'll need to possess good technical skills and have a detail-oriented nature in order to be successful as a radiology technician. Technical skills can come in very handy when using and adjusting complex machinery, and you'll need to pay close attention to each detail of every procedure and patient interaction. Radiology technicians also need a good amount of stamina to work on their feet for long periods and to occasionally lift and move patients in need of assistance.

What Are Employers Looking For?

If you have the appropriate education and licensing, you might find work as a radiology technician in a broad range of settings. Some job postings open as of November 2012 can give you an idea of the current job market for radiology technicians.

  • A hospital in St. Louis looked for a part-time radiology technician with mammography certification. The position also called for CPR certification and at least one year of recent mammography experience.
  • A hospital in Phoenix sought a full-time radiology technician to work rotating shifts. On-call duty was required for this position. Along with appropriate state licensing and CPR certification, this position also called for six months of hospital experience.
  • An Orlando-based provider of on-site occupational screening services looked for a full-time radiology technician to travel throughout the year. Hearing and vision tests and height, weight and blood pressure measurements were additional responsibilities of this position.

Standing Out in the Field

Specializing in a specific field of radiography can be a good way to set yourself apart from other prospective radiology technicians. You might choose to specialize in an area such as mammography or CT testing. Having an advanced understanding of the machinery might also give you an edge in the job market, since maintenance is an important part of a radiology technician's job description.

Interpersonal skills are an important part of your work as a radiology technician, so honing your skill in interacting with patients can be another way to enhance your qualifications. Patients may be unsure or otherwise anxious about imaging procedures, and explaining the required tests might help to reduce stress.

Alternate Career Options

Radiation therapist positions have similar educational and training requirements as radiology technicians, with an associate's degree and state licensing typically required. A key difference is that radiation therapists focus on treating cancer and other diseases through radiation treatments rather than carrying out diagnostic procedures. The BLS projected 20% job growth for radiation therapists from 2010-2020. The BLS further reported a median annual salary of about $76,000 for radiation therapists as of May 2011.

For an alternate career path with an extremely bright job outlook, you might want to consider becoming a diagnostic medical sonographer. Working as a diagnostic medical sonographer involves using equipment that directs sound waves through a patient's body to diagnose illnesses. Diagnostic medical sonographers generally have an associate's degree and professional certification. The BLS projected especially strong job growth for diagnostic medical sonographers, with overall employment expected to increase by 44% from 2010-2020. As of May 2011, the BLS reported a median annual salary of about $65,000 for diagnostic medical sonographers.

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George Mason University

  • Master of Science in Health Informatics

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Argosy University

  • Health Services Management (MS)
  • Diagnostic Medical Sonography (Ultrasound) (AAS)
  • Radiation Therapy (AS)

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American University

  • Master of Science in Healthcare Management

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Saint Joseph's University

  • MS in Health Administration

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Johns Hopkins University

  • Post-Bachelor's Certificate in Biotechnology Enterprise

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Kaplan University

  • MS in Nursing
  • Master of Healthcare Admin
  • Bachelor: Health Science
  • Bachelors of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN (RN License Required)

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Herzing University

  • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership
  • Associate of Science - Medical Assisting Services
  • Diploma: Medical Assisting

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Keiser University

  • RN to BSN
  • Associate of Sciences - Medical Assistant

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