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Becoming a Radiology Technician

What Does a Radiology Technician Do?

a radiology technician adjusts equipment

Radiology technicians produce clear and accurate images of the body, enabling physicians to diagnose and treat medical conditions that would otherwise be difficult to document. Technicians operate sophisticated equipment that includes X-ray, mammography, computerized axial tomography (CAT) and positron emission tomography (PET) scan devices. By guiding patients through each step of their medical imaging procedures, these specialists ensure the production of high quality images.

Technicians prepare patients by explaining each step of the medical imaging process. They also play an important role in assuaging the anxieties of patients who may be concerned about the procedure. After instructing patients to remove jewelry, clothing or other items that could interfere with the equipment, radiology technicians position them correctly and protect them from overexposure, for example by covering parts of the body not being filmed with lead aprons. Occasionally they inject barium- and iodine-based contrast agents to improve image quality.

After focusing the equipment and capturing the images on digital file or film, radiology technicians review the results of their work with radiologists, and take additional views when necessary. A radiology technician may also be responsible for updating patient records and maintaining the imaging equipment itself.

Radiologic technologists are radiology technicians who have progressed through continued education and training or those who acquired additional training and education before entering the field. Many radiology technologists will specialize in a particular diagnostic test, such as mammography, and those with more than one specialty are considered highly desirable by employers. Regardless of the level of training - technician or technologist - or specialization, the precision work of these professionals enables physicians to diagnose and treat a wide variety of health concerns with accuracy and confidence.

Workplace Details

Radiology technicians work in hospitals, clinics, imaging centers, private physician offices or even mobile imaging service centers. While hospitals remain the leading job providers, they also tend to be much busier than outpatient settings. A radiology technician typically works a standard 40-hour week, but some positions require on-call night or weekend work.

Salary and Job Outlook

State
Average Wage
California
$76060
Texas
$55680
New York
$67400
Florida
$52960
Pennsylvania
$56880

Hover over any state to explore local income and job growth data.

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ALABAMA

Median Salary: 
$46,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $32,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $62,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 100

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Birmingham$36,200$50,370$67,050
Huntsville$23,650$47,020$72,320

ALASKA

Median Salary: 
$70,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $52,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $91,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Anchorage$51,610$71,920$93,510
Fairbanks$51,840$67,480$76,620

ARIZONA

Median Salary: 
$60,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $40,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $85,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 170

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Phoenix$40,130$63,380$88,510
Tuscon$39,630$56,020$73,990

ARKANSAS

Median Salary: 
$46,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $32,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $68,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Little Rock$33,660$49,600$74,790
Fort Smith$29,400$43,520$60,450

CALIFORNIA

Median Salary: 
$75,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $41,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $115,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 540

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Los Angeles$38,620$70,050$101,940
San Francisco Bay$44,650$95,520$127,830
San Diego$38,570$69,410$98,900
Sacramento$52,820$90,720$116,920

COLORADO

Median Salary: 
$60,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $42,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $87,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 33%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 140

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Denver$43,420$63,450$90,620
Colorado Springs$42,530$57,690$77,910

CONNECTICUT

Median Salary: 
$63,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $44,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $89,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: -1%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Hartford$49,700$65,090$88,400
Bridgeport$44,880$63,120$91,480
New Haven$43,350$61,780$89,700

DELAWARE

Median Salary: 
$58,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $43,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $79,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wilmington$44,010$59,560$78,480
Dover$50,060$60,890$76,750

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Median Salary: 
$75,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $53,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $98,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 3%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Washington DC$49,370$68,120$95,100

FLORIDA

Median Salary: 
$51,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $34,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $72,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 20%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 500

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Miami$33,760$50,970$74,750
Orlando$32,600$47,370$63,540
Tampa$33,790$53,920$71,590
Jacksonville$32,180$50,550$73,570

GEORGIA

Median Salary: 
$50,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $36,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $71,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 170

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Atlanta$39,370$53,660$73,300
Augusta$39,040$51,730$65,630

HAWAII

Median Salary: 
$69,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $49,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $91,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 3%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Honolulu$53,330$72,210$92,870

IDAHO

Median Salary: 
$50,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $39,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $69,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 220

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boise$39,630$50,510$69,430

ILLINOIS

Median Salary: 
$59,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $37,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $85,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 2%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 150

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Chicago$38,960$62,770$88,140
Rockford$36,030$54,480$81,490

INDIANA

Median Salary: 
$53,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $39,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $74,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 130

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Indianapolis$42,360$57,310$77,580
South Bend$41,010$48,960$64,950
Fort Wayne$36,990$52,050$71,670

IOWA

Median Salary: 
$48,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $35,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $66,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 7%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Des Moines$41,180$53,480$73,900
Cedar Rapids$19,840$42,970$61,230

KANSAS

Median Salary: 
$49,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $37,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $66,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wichita$36,300$47,640$61,660
Kansas City$40,550$54,180$73,770

KENTUCKY

Median Salary: 
$49,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $34,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $65,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 21%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 210

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Louisville$34,960$51,820$67,320
Lexington$34,370$48,620$65,590

LOUISIANA

Median Salary: 
$46,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $32,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $62,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 7%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 80

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New Orleans$39,470$52,430$68,200
Baton Rouge$35,430$47,820$68,100
Lafayette$31,940$43,600$58,500

MAINE

Median Salary: 
$55,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $41,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $74,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 3%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$40,890$55,210$75,460
Lewiston$39,390$55,850$71,290

MARYLAND

Median Salary: 
$63,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $43,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $86,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 18%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 200

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Baltimore$42,240$63,200$82,000
Frederick$44,320$66,510$97,960

MASSACHUSETTS

Median Salary: 
$70,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $49,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $98,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 130

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boston$50,820$73,480$100,000
Worcester$54,160$80,280$111,930
Springfield$38,230$57,670$78,250

MICHIGAN

Median Salary: 
$52,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $39,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $70,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 4%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 150

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Detroit$40,490$54,130$72,240
Grand Rapids$39,930$48,200$62,250

MINNESOTA

Median Salary: 
$62,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $45,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $79,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 11%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 120

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Minneapolis - St. Paul$47,570$64,280$79,190
Rochester$51,650$68,610$92,200

MISSISSIPPI

Median Salary: 
$46,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $32,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $62,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 5%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Jackson$30,780$47,350$63,700
Gulfport$36,100$49,770$66,610

MISSOURI

Median Salary: 
$50,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $36,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $70,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 5%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
St. Louis$38,860$51,500$72,560
Kansas City$40,550$54,180$73,770

MONTANA

Median Salary: 
$51,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $38,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $72,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Billings$37,020$50,460$69,730
Missoula$40,400$53,590$73,270

NEBRASKA

Median Salary: 
$52,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $36,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $70,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 11%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 60

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Omaha$37,070$53,290$70,100
Lincoln$34,600$47,820$62,240

NEVADA

Median Salary: 
$66,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $46,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $97,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Las Vegas$45,790$65,710$100,020
Reno$43,720$65,190$79,730

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Median Salary: 
$62,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $44,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $82,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 4%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Manchester$45,070$63,420$80,810
Nashua$45,240$67,730$92,480

NEW JERSEY

Median Salary: 
$65,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $47,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $84,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 5%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 140

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Newark$50,610$66,780$86,010
Trenton$52,920$66,760$84,000

NEW MEXICO

Median Salary: 
$57,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $42,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $77,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Albuquerque$45,990$60,090$77,690
Las Cruces$22,730$50,740$75,510

NEW YORK

Median Salary: 
$66,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $44,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $92,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 400

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New York City$48,180$69,940$95,630
Buffalo$40,860$57,120$74,720
Rochester$40,510$51,650$68,640
Albany$42,260$57,140$76,260

NORTH CAROLINA

Median Salary: 
$54,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $40,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $74,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 250

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Charlotte$40,770$54,710$73,310
Raleigh$39,640$56,070$74,860
Greensboro$41,990$56,650$75,760
Winston - Salem$42,430$55,770$74,680

NORTH DAKOTA

Median Salary: 
$49,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $35,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $63,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Fargo$37,770$49,630$62,930
Bismarck$34,320$48,500$71,250

OHIO

Median Salary: 
$53,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $38,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $69,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 260

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cleveland$40,670$55,110$71,270
Columbus$41,830$55,520$75,110
Cincinnati$35,990$53,140$70,940
Dayton$37,130$53,930$63,920

OKLAHOMA

Median Salary: 
$49,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $35,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $74,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 5%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 60

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Oklahoma City$37,580$52,590$74,090
Tulsa$33,300$47,730$66,090

OREGON

Median Salary: 
$66,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $48,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $89,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 60

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$51,060$68,750$92,180
Salem$41,860$60,030$82,950

PENNSYLVANIA

Median Salary: 
$55,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $36,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $77,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 4%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 230

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Philadelphia$40,300$62,950$80,770
Pittsburgh$34,970$48,790$67,310
Harrisburg$41,700$54,570$76,370
Allentown$44,310$58,990$88,440

RHODE ISLAND

Median Salary: 
$67,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $46,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $89,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 5%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Providence$47,530$68,380$91,980

SOUTH CAROLINA

Median Salary: 
$48,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $33,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $68,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Greenville$32,100$48,320$68,120
Columbia$31,060$47,430$66,460
Charleston$40,090$54,830$72,130

SOUTH DAKOTA

Median Salary: 
$47,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $34,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $62,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 4%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Rapid City$34,650$48,470$62,940

TENNESSEE

Median Salary: 
$49,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $34,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $67,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 25%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 220

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Nashville$36,380$51,840$70,430
Memphis$39,600$54,450$71,790
Knoxville$33,800$45,880$60,410
Chattanooga$38,760$54,430$73,020

TEXAS

Median Salary: 
$55,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $37,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $76,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 25%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 670

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Dallas - Ft. Worth$41,150$59,520$79,380
Houston$41,120$57,450$75,630
San Antonio$38,760$54,430$73,020
Austin$34,500$54,080$75,670

UTAH

Median Salary: 
$53,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $40,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $74,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 23%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 60

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Salt Lake City$40,910$52,620$74,460
Ogden$37,990$51,910$74,070

VERMONT

Median Salary: 
$57,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $42,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $79,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 3%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

VIRGINIA

Median Salary: 
$55,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $38,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $79,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 160

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Virginia Beach$41,370$54,050$74,580
Richmond$40,240$54,780$75,430

WASHINGTON

Median Salary: 
$65,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $50,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $91,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 19%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 160

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Seattle$52,680$68,750$93,380
Spokane$44,930$63,920$87,310

WEST VIRGINIA

Median Salary: 
$45,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $30,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $62,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Huntington$35,270$49,610$69,800
Charleston$30,350$46,170$61,630

WISCONSIN

Median Salary: 
$55,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $41,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $75,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 2%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Milwaukee$41,990$57,850$78,740
Madison$31,450$55,940$74,180

WYOMING

Median Salary: 
$50,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $37,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $69,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cheyenne$35,910$49,270$64,420
Casper$23,800$44,170$65,780

The current median annual wage for radiologic technologists is $57,450, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salaries typically range from $38,660 (the median of the bottom 10% of earners) to $82,590 (the median of the top 10%).

Hospitals and diagnostic laboratories generally pay higher levels of compensation than physicians’ offices. Technicians with certification to handle more equipment and machines are paid more generously than those who do not have additional training and experience. Radiology tech salaries also vary depending on geographical location and employer type. For example, radiology tech jobs in metropolitan areas and medical diagnostic laboratories often pay higher salaries than radiology tech jobs in rural areas and physician’s offices.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for radiology technologists will rise faster than average at 9% through 2024.

Compare Salaries by City

New York City NY Median Pay

$69940 Per Year

$33.62 Per Hour

Los Angeles CA Median Pay

$70050 Per Year

$33.67 Per Hour

Steps to Become a Radiology Technician

1

Earn an associate or bachelor's degree in radiologic technology.

In the past, one- or two-year certificate programs were available for radiology technicians, but today those certificate programs only provide a viable path for students who have already earned at least an associate degree in a different subject. Radiology techs are required to earn at minimum an associate degree, which takes two years to complete. This is the most popular path for aspiring radiology techs at this time. Programs are offered at almost all accredited community colleges and private (for-profit) institutions.

Some universities offer a bachelor’s degree in radiologic technology. Admission to one of these programs comes with its own criteria specific to the school. Common coursework includes radiation physics, anatomy, pathology and radiobiology.

Most schools require a portion of the curriculum to be hands-on to give students valuable patient contact experience. Many radiologic technology programs are now also requiring coding or medical office courses, as some jobs will require those skills to be utilized in practice.

The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) is the official accrediting body for radiography training programs. It is very important to take a JRCERT-accredited training program because it will later qualify you for certification.

Show Me Schools »

2

Get certified by ARRT.

Certification follows radiologic technology training and is awarded by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) after passing the certification exam. While certification isn’t mandatory for radiology technicians, it’s very difficult to get hired without it. Also, primary certification as a Registered Technologist, Radiography (RT(R)) is required for licensure in many states.

In addition to the educational requirements above, you’ll need to pass a background check and achieve a passing score on the certification exam in order to get your RT(R) credential from ARRT. To maintain ARRT-certified status, 24 hours of continuing education every two years is required.

3

Become licensed.

Most states require radiology technicians to secure a license. Requirements differ in each state. Some states use ARRT exams for licensing, but you should contact the relevant state’s health board for more information.

4

Consider opportunities to advance your career.

Radiology technicians are frequently “technologists-in-training.” A technologist candidate is eligible to seek certification after meeting experience and training requirements obtained as a technician. Certified radiology technologist may also be asked to train or manage entry-level technicians. Last but not least, numerous specializations within rad tech allow you to focus on a specialty of your choice and enhance your earning potential.

Exploring Degree Paths

CERTIFICATE PROGRAM

2 years, not including prerequisites

If you already hold an associate degree or higher in any field, you can become a radiology technician by completing a radiography certificate program approved by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Once you graduate, you’ll be eligible to sit for your primary (entry-level) certification exam.

Most certificate programs have prerequisites. So if your degree is outside the medical field, you may need to take additional classes in anatomy and physiology, algebra, writing, medical terminology, and technology in order to qualify for admission.

Certificate coursework focuses on the skills you need to pass the certification exam and practice clinically as a radiology technician. A few subjects you’ll probably encounter:

Radiographic positioning

Practice positioning the body and extremities for diagnostic evaluation.

Radiographic physics

Study the properties and production of ionizing radiation through topics like energy, matter, atomic structure, and voltage.

Radiographic anatomy and physiology

Explore the body structures and functions most commonly studied on x-rays.

Basic radiographic techniques

Learn the principles of basic patient care that you will use during imaging studies.

As a radiography certificate student, you’ll also rotate through a variety of clinical settings where you’ll practice your skills under supervision.

ASSOCIATE DEGREE

2 years

The most common way to enter the radiology technician profession is to earn an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in radiologic technology or radiography.

AAS programs can be found at community, technical, and career colleges and some 4-year colleges. To avoid certification hassles down the road, verify that the program you choose is approved by ARRT.

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Some AAS programs require you to meet prerequisites before admission. (These will be similar to the prereqs for a certificate program.) Others roll these classes into the first-year of the curriculum. To learn more, check the admissions requirements for each school you’re considering.

The AAS-level radiography curriculum combines classes with supervised clinical practice in hospitals and imaging labs. Some topics you can expect to cover:

Radiation protection and biology

Examine how radiation affects living tissue, plus measures to protect patients and healthcare workers.

Advanced imaging

Get an introduction to modalities like mammography, bone density scanning, and magnetic resonance imaging.

Pathology

Study how illness and injury change the body’s appearance and function.

Quality assurance

Learn processes that can help hospitals and labs improve and maintain their image quality.

BACHELOR'S DEGREE

4 years

Whether you’re already a practicing radiology technician or new to the field, there are several good reasons to consider getting a bachelor’s degree.

A 4-year degree provides a lot of advancement potential. With a bachelor’s, it’s much easier to become a lead technician, healthcare administrator, equipment sales manager, or clinical instructor.

A bachelor’s is also essential if you want to go onto graduate school. This is the typical pathway for techs who want to become college professors, conduct research, or train as radiologist assistants.

Bachelor’s-level students spend 2-3 years completing their radiology prerequisites and general education courses. (General education includes the humanities, physical education, foreign language, and other requirements common to all degrees.) They then spend 1-2 years taking radiology classes and rotating through clinical placements at hospitals and imaging laboratories.

The radiologic technology class sequence is similar to the certificate program curriculum. It covers:

Pharmacology

Learn to safely administer contrasting agents and medications.

Digital imaging

Study how modern x-ray machines convert ionizing radiation into on-screen pictures.

Magnetic resonance imaging

Gain a deeper understanding of the science behind MRI, plus explore scanning protocols and techniques.

Teaching strategies

Develop skills you need to become an effective clinical instructor of radiographic technology.

Keys to Success as a Radiology Technician

Necessary Skills and Qualities

Attention to detail

A focus on detail and ability to adhere to procedure are essential to success as a radiology technician.

Physical strength

You will need this in order to position patients and, at times, to lift them onto examination tables.

Interpersonal skills

As with health care professionals in general, empathy, cultural sensitivity, solid communication and high ethical standards are necessary.

Additional Credentials

This field presents many opportunities for advancement through specialization. In addition to primary RT(R) certification, ARRT offers 11 post-primary certifications for radiology technicians, listed below. Candidates must meet structured education and clinical experience requirements and pass an exam.

  • Mammography
  • Computed tomography (CT)
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Quality Management
  • Bone Densitometry
  • Cardiac Interventional Radiography
  • Vascular Interventional Radiography
  • Sonography
  • Vascular Sonography
  • Breast Sonography
  • Radiologist Assistant
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