X-Ray Machine Repair Tech Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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Learn about an x-ray machine repair tech's job description, salary and education requirements. Get straight talk about the pros and cons of an x-ray machine repair tech career.
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Pros and Cons of an X-Ray Machine Repair Tech Career

X-ray repair technicians, also known as biomedical equipment technicians, make sure medical diagnostic imaging equipment works properly. Read on to find out some of the pros and cons of this profession.

Pros of Becoming an X-Ray Machine Repair Tech
Excellent employment growth (projected at 30% between 2012-2022)*
An associate's degree is often sufficient for an entry-level position*
Professional certifications can aid career advancement*
Can work anywhere biomedical equipment is used (large cities, rural areas, etc.)*

Cons of Becoming an X-Ray Machine Repair Tech
Requires on-the-job training and thorough knowledge of equipment*
Continuing education is needed to stay current with technology*
Emergency and time-sensitive repair jobs can be stressful*
Involves exposure to hazardous environments**
May require travel for on-site repairs***

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*Net OnLine, ***CareerBuilder.com

Career Information

Job Description

X-ray machine repair techs and other biomedical equipment techs service the machines and equipment hospitals rely on for patient care and diagnosing illnesses. While some repair techs focus on one type of equipment, many are trained to install, fix and maintain a wide variety of machines, which can include x-ray machines, MRI and CT scanners, defibrillators, anesthesia delivery systems and other equipment. Biomedical equipment techs install or uninstall machines, perform scheduled maintenance and troubleshoot problems when equipment malfunctions.

While much of the job requires technical knowledge of equipment operation and design, x-ray machine repair techs must also be skilled communicators who can give medical staff instruction in the proper use of these complex machines. Some repair techs work on-site at medical facilities or equipment supply stores, but others are field service technicians who travel from one location to the next to fix equipment, sometimes covering a broad geographic area.

Salary Info and Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a median annual salary close to $46,000 for medical equipment repairers in 2014; most employees in this category earned between $28,000 and $75,000 per year (www.bls.gov). Increased use of medical testing and technological advances in diagnostic equipment will continue to drive demand for medical equipment repair technicians, with the BLS having projected employment growth of 30% for the 2012-2022 decade. A willingness to move to find job opportunities can be beneficial, as the BLS noted that rural areas generally have fewer qualified applicants and thus less competition for any given job opening.

What Are the Requirements?

An entry-level position repairing biomedical equipment usually requires an associate's degree in biomedical equipment technology, engineering or a similar field; however, some employers prefer applicants with a bachelor's degree, especially for positions repairing more complex machines or a wider variety of equipment. O*Net OnLine reported that as of 2011, 62% of medical equipment repairers held an associate's degree (www.onetonline.org). A 2-year degree program can give you a solid foundation in electrical and electronic engineering topics, including circuits, electrical systems and digital computer technology, along with an introduction to various biomedical electronics.

Upon being hired, inexperienced repair techs usually train with seasoned employees to learn the different types of machines; other instruction can come from reading manuals or participating in training programs provided by equipment manufacturers. You'll need a thorough understanding of how electronic and electrical systems work, plus the critical thinking to solve mechanical problems through troubleshooting. Other important skills include:

  • Manual dexterity
  • Physical strength and stamina
  • Customer service skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Written and oral communication skills
  • An understanding of x-ray technology

Job Postings from Real Employers

Many employers want repair techs that can fix several types of biomedical equipment and often seek candidates who have at least 3-5 years of work experience on current biomedical machines. Additionally, a driver's license was often listed as a requirement, because some repair techs cover an established territory of several hospitals or clinics. Here are some examples of CareerBuilder.com job postings open during May 2012:

  • A Tennessee medical imaging firm wanted experienced repair technicians specializing in x-ray machines, MRI and CT scanners. The job included field service, installation, repair and maintenance throughout the state.
  • A hospital system in Illinois advertised for a traveling service engineer to repair a range of diagnostic imaging equipment at several hospital locations in the Chicago suburbs.
  • A Florida hospital wanted an on-site service technician to inspect, adjust and repair basic imaging machines. The employer also stated that the position included career training for advancement and a broader range of repair responsibilities.

How to Maximize Your Skills

Get Certified

Some employers prefer to hire applicants with professional certification relevant to the equipment they service. The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation offers certification through the International Certification Commission for Clinical Engineering and Biomedical Technology (ICC), including the Certified Radiology Equipment Specialist (CRES) designation (www.aami.org). The organization also offers certifications in biomedical equipment (CBET) and laboratory equipment (CLES).

Although each credential requires taking a separate exam, the tests draw from the same subject areas: anatomy and physiology, electricity and electronics, healthcare information technology, problem solving and operation of healthcare technology. To be eligible for the exams, you'll need a combination of education (typically an associate's degree) and work experience (2-4 years, depending on your education background). The BLS noted that some employers may be willing to cover the cost of the examination.

Update Your Skills

Innovations in healthcare technology and biomedical equipment make continuing education essential for staying up to date on the types of machines hospitals and clinics use. Employers want applicants who have knowledge of and experience with recently released equipment, so pursuing training programs offered by manufacturers or through educational institutions can set you apart from other jobseekers.

Other Careers to Consider

Radiologic Technologist

If you want to work with diagnostic imaging equipment but also wish to provide some direct patient care, you could think about becoming a radiologic technologist. These healthcare professionals use x-ray, MRI, CT and mammography machines to take images of patients that doctors later use to detect and diagnose illnesses. Like repair techs, radiologic techs usually need an associate's degree; O*Net reported that 46% of radiologic techs held associate's degrees in 2011, while 34% had taken some college coursework. In addition to education and training, the BLS said radiologic techs usually require licensing or certification to practice, but that guidelines varied from state to state. Mean annual salary figures from the BLS showed that radiologic techs made about $57,000 in 2011. Employment growth of 28% was projected for the 2010-2020 decade.

Radiation Therapist

If you would like to take a more active role in treating patients, you may want to consider a career as a radiation therapist. Since they provide radiation treatments for cancer patients, radiation therapists must follow safety guidelines to minimize their own radiation exposure; however, these professionals are well compensated, earning an average salary around $79,000 in 2011. Like radiologic technologists, radiation therapists usually need to be licensed and certified according to state-specific requirements. As of 2011, O*Net reported that 58% of radiation therapists held associate's degrees and 35% had earned bachelor's degrees. While the career outlook for radiation therapists is good (estimated job growth of 20% from 2010-2020), the BLS noted that there is a relatively small job pool (about 17,000 jobs), which should be a consideration.

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