If you're researching radiology schools in hopes of becoming a radiology technician, here is some good news. Health care is one of the largest industries in the nation and, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), that isn't changing anytime soon. The BLS states that the health care industry should generate 3.2 million new wage and salary jobs between 2008 and 2018--more than any other sector--and that half of the 20 fastest growing occupations in the entire country are health care related. Radiology training programs can provide you with the education you need to take advantage of this promising outlook.
Radiology Technician Overview
Radiologic technicians and technologists perform imaging procedures to capture pictures or videos of body systems that physicians can then use to diagnose and treat potential ailments. Radiology technicians can specialize in different types of technology such as X-ray, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Some professionals might specialize in a particular body part or system, such a mammography or cardiovascular imaging.
A good radiology technician can follow a physician's instructions precisely, manipulating the technology perfectly to provide them with the best possible images. Since they often work with patients who have potentially serious ailments, good people skills are a must.
The BLS notes that most states require radiologic technologists to be licensed. Because of the risk of radiation exposure, it's imperative that these professionals are properly trained in using radiologic technologies and are able to capture the necessary images quickly and efficiently. Licensing requirements vary by state, but formal education at accredited radiology schools is typically mandatory.
According to the BLS, the Joint Review Committee on Education and Radiologic Technology accredits radiology degree programs. Radiology schools typically provide both classroom and hands-on clinical instruction in the following disciplines:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Radiology and radiation physics
- Patient care procedures
- Medical ethics and terminology
High school students considering a career in radiology should focus on math, physics, chemistry and biology courses.
Radiology Training: Degrees and Coursework
Like many health care occupations, there are a number of education pathways for budding radiology technicians, including:
- Associate's degrees
- Bachelor's degrees
The BLS notes that 2-year associate's degrees constitute the most common form of training. Certificate programs typically last between 21 and 24 months, while bachelor's degrees typically require four years of study. Which program is best for you depends on your ultimate career goals. If you're in a hurry to enter the workplace or if you learn best when on-the-job, a certificate or associate degree might be the best route. If you're hoping for a better salary or quick advancement in your career, you should consider getting a bachelorӳ degree at a more intensive radiology training program.
According to the BLS, advanced education and practical experience help radiology technologists land supervisor, chief radiologic technologist and director positions more quickly. In some cases, courses or a master's degree in business or health administration may be necessary.
Continuing Education and Certification
Practicing radiology technicians can benefit tremendously from continuing education unites (CEUs). CEUs sharpen your existing skills while keeping you up to date on important technological advances affecting your field. In fact, continuing education is so important for radiological technicians that many states require it to maintain a license. Many radiology schools provide ongoing coursework or seminars for practicing radiology technologists, but some organizations provide workshops elsewhere.
According to the BLS, the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) and the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) offer voluntary certification in radiology technology, a process that requires members to attend accredited radiology schools. Certification provides a clear signal to employers that you take your job seriously and are willing to invest the time and resources necessary to ensure you're on top of your field. This distinction can give you an edge over your peers in the job market and may even improve your salary potential.
Radiology Technician Career Outlook
The BLS notes that radiology technician positions are expected to grow by 17 percent between 2008 and 2018, meaning the field should grow faster than the average for all U.S. occupations. Those who specialize in more than one diagnostic imaging procedure should fare the best. In 2009, radiology technicians earned a median annual salary of $53,240, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Resources for Radiology Technicians