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Considering Work as a Radiologic Technologist or Technician

Nature of the Work

Radiologic technologists and technicians carry out diagnostic imaging examinations such as x-rays, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and mammography.

Some radiologic technologists and technicians, known as radiographers, generate x-ray films (radiographs) of parts of the human body for use in diagnosing medical concerns. They make patients ready for radiologic examinations by describing the procedure, taking off jewelry and other articles through which x rays cannot pass, and fixing patients so that the parts of the body can be accordingly radiographed. To keep from accidental exposure to radiation, these workers enclose the exposed area with radiation protection devices, like lead shields, or restrict the size of the x-ray beam. Radiographers arrange radiographic equipment at the appropriate angle and height over the right area of a patient’s body. Utilizing instruments resembling to a measuring tape, they may measure the depth of the area to be radiographed and calibrate controls on the x-ray machine to create radiographs of the suitable density, detail, and contrast.

Radiologic technologists and technicians must obey physicians' directives accurately and comply to procedures regarding the utilization of radiation to guard themselves, their patients, and their coworkers from unnecessary exposure.

Besides getting patients ready and operating equipment, radiologic technologists and technicians maintain patient records and fine-tune and care for equipment. They also may plan work schedules, assess acquisitions of equipment, or operate a radiology department.

Radiologic technologists also carry out more difficult imaging procedures. When doing fluoroscopies, for example, radiologic technologists fix a solution for the patient to take, permitting the radiologist (a doctor who interprets radiographs) to examine soft tissues in the body.

Some radiologic technologists specialize in computed tomography (CT), as CT technologists. CT scans creates a large amount of cross-sectional x-rays of an area of the body. A three-dimensional image is created, from those cross-sectional x-rays. Ionizing radiation is what the CT utilizes; which means, it needs the same careful measures that are used with x rays.

As MR technologists, a radiologic technologists also can study intensively in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MR). Just like CT, MR creates multiple cross-sectional images to create a 3-dimensional image. The difference of MR from CT and X-rays is that it uses non-ionizing radio frequency to create image contrast.

Another field a radiologic technologists can specialize in is mammography. Mammographers utilize low dose x-ray systems to create images of the breast.

Together with radiologic technologists, others who handle diagnostic imaging procedures include cardiovascular technologists and technicians, nuclear medicine technologists, and diagnostic medical sonographers.

Work Environment

It is important for technologist and technicians to have physical stamina since this occupation requires for them to be on their feet for long periods and they may engage in lifting or turning disabled patients. Technologists and technicians work at diagnostic machines but also may carry out some procedures at patients' bedsides. Some goes to patients in large vans geared up with complex diagnostic equipment.

Despite the fact radiation hazards are present in this occupation; they are reduced by the utilization of lead aprons, gloves, and other protective devices, also by keeping instruments monitoring exposure to radiation handy. Technologists and technicians have badges measuring radiation levels in the radiation area, and detailed records are kept on their increasing lifetime dose.

Nearly all full-time radiologic technologists and technicians work about 40 hours a week. They may, on the other hand, have evening, weekend, or on-call hours. A number of radiologic technologists and technicians work part time for more than one employer; for those, going back and forth the facilities must be taken to account.

Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement

Education and training. Formal training programs in radiography result to a certificate, an associate degree, or a bachelor's degree. An associate degree is the most widespread form of educational fulfillment among radiologic technologists and technicians. Several may accept a certificate. Certificate programs usually run around 21-24 months.

Formal training programs in radiography are accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology.

In 2009, the committee accredited 213 programs leading in a certificate, 397 programs coming out with an associate degree, and 35 resulting in a bachelor’s degree. The programs offer both classroom and clinical instruction in anatomy and physiology, patient treatment procedures, radiation protection, radiation physics, medical terminology, principles of imaging, positioning of patients, medical ethics, radiobiology, and pathology.

Students thinking of a career in radiologic technology should acquire high school courses in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology.

Licensure. Federal legislation protects the public from the hazards of accidental exposure to medical and dental radiation by making certain that operators of radiologic equipment are properly trained. On the other hand, it is the decision of each State to demand licensure of radiologic technologists. Nearly all States require licensure for practicing radiologic technologists. Licensing requirements differ by State; for particular necessities contact your State’s health board.

Certification and other qualifications. The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) provides voluntary certification for radiologic technologists. Furthermore, a number of States utilize ARRT-administered exams for State licensing purposes. Technologists must graduate from an ARRT-certified accredited program and pass an examination to be eligible for certification,. A lot of employers favor to employ certified radiologic technologists. So that they may retain an ARRT certification, 24 hours of continuing education must be finished every 2 years.

Radiologic technologists should be attentive to patients' physical and psychological needs. They must attend to detail, obey instructions, and work as part of a team. Furthermore, handling sophisticated equipment needs mechanical ability and manual dexterity.

Advancement. With experience and further training, staff technologists may advance to specialists, doing CT scanning, MR, mammography, or bone densitometry. Technologists also may be promoted, with further education and certification, to become a radiologist assistant. The ARRT provides specialty certification in many radiologic specialties as well as a credentialing for radiologist assistants.

Seasoned technologists also may advance to becoming a supervisor, chief radiologic technologist, and, eventually, department administrator or director. Determined by the institution, courses or a master's degree in business or health administration may be necessary for the director's position.

Some technologists move forward by specializing in the occupation to turn into instructors or directors in radiologic technology educational programs; others accept jobs as sales representatives or instructors with equipment manufacturers.

Employment Opportunities

In 2008, radiologic technologists held approximately 214,700 jobs. Around 61 percent of all jobs were in hospitals. Nearly all other jobs were in offices of physicians; medical and diagnostic laboratories, including diagnostic imaging centers; and outpatient care centers.

Job Outlook

Employment change. Employment of radiologic technologists is forecasted to grow by about 17 percent from 2008 to 2018, quicker than the average for all occupations. As the population increases and ages, there will be a growing requirement for diagnostic imaging. With age comes aggravated occurrence of illness and injury, which frequently needs diagnostic imaging for diagnosis. Together with diagnosis, diagnostic imaging is utilized to oversee the development of disease treatment. With the growing success of medical technologies in treating disease, diagnostic imaging will progressively be required to keep an eye on progress of treatment.

The magnitude to which diagnostic imaging procedures are carried out relies greatly on cost and reimbursement considerations. On the other hand, accurate early disease detection permits for lower cost of treatment in the long run, which many third-party payers find favorable.

Even if hospitals will stay as the main employer of radiologic technologists, a number of new jobs will be found in offices of physicians and diagnostic imaging centers. As technology advances many imaging modalities are turning less expensive and more likely to have in a physician’s office

Job prospects. Accompanying job increase, job vacancies also will come to light from the requirement to replace technologists who leave the occupation. Those with knowledge of more than one diagnostic imaging procedure—such as CT, MR, and mammography—will have the greatest employment opportunities as employers seek to keep down costs by hiring multi-credentialed employees.

Requirement for radiologic technologists and technicians can tend to be regional with some areas having huge requirement, while other areas are loaded. Technologists and technicians who are agreeable to transferring may have better job opportunities.

CT is moving ahead to become the frontline of diagnosis tool. As a substitute to taking x rays to determine whether a CT is required - as was the practice before - it is usually the first choice for imaging due to its precision. MR also is progressively utilized. Technologists with credentialing in either of these specialties will be easily sold to employers.

Potential Earnings

In May 2008, the average yearly salary of radiologic technologists was $52,210. The middle 50 percent enjoyed between $42,710 and $63,010. The lowest 10 percent took home less than $35,100, and the highest 10 percent gained more than $74,970. Average yearly salaries in the industries hiring the biggest numbers of radiologic technologists in 2008 were:

Medical and diagnostic laboratories


Federal Executive Branch


General medical and surgical hospitals


Outpatient care centers


Offices of physicians


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