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Radiologic Technologist Job Description, Career as a Radiologic Technologist, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: Two-year or four-year college

Salary: Median—$43,350 per year

Employment Outlook: Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Radiologic technologists, who are also called radiographers, take X-rays (radiographs), which are images of the inside of the human body. To take X-rays, radiographers position the patient, position the X-ray machine and other equipment, set controls, position the X-ray film, and remove and develop the film after the X-ray has been taken. Experienced radiographers may perform more complex imaging procedures, such as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. In addition, radiologic technologists are usually responsible for writing reports and maintaining their equipment.

Radiologic technologists work under the direction of radiologists, medical doctors who specialize in interpreting radiographs. The information from radiographs is helpful in the diagnosis and treatment of illness and injury. Most radiologic technologists work in hospitals, but some work in medical laboratories, clinics, or doctors' or dentists' offices. Others help staff mobile X-ray units or work in private industry.

Education and Training Requirements

A person can become a radiologic technologist by enrolling in a two- to four- year program in radiography that leads to a certificate, associate degree, or bachelor's degree. A high school diploma or its equivalent is needed to enter a program. Hospitals, colleges, medical schools, the U.S. Armed Forces, and vocational and technical schools offer these programs. After graduating from an approved program, individuals can take an exam leading to registration by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. With further training and experience, registered technologists can become certified in radiation therapy technology or nuclear medicine technology.

Getting the Job

Many hospitals will hire students that they have helped to train. School placement offices can also help interested individuals find jobs. The want ads in newspapers and professional journals are another good source of job leads.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Experienced radiologic technologists can become supervisors of other workers in large X-ray departments. They can also learn to operate other types of hospital equipment. Technologists who have a bachelor's degree can become instructors or administrators. Some technologists advance by getting jobs with the manufacturers of X-ray equipment. They may sell or service this equipment.

The employment outlook for the field of radiologic technology is expected to grow faster than average through the year 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the number of candidates going into the field is also increasing. Also, more hospitals are merging their radiologic and nuclear medicine departments in an effort to cut costs. Radiographers who are also trained in more than one type of imaging technology will have the best prospects. In the years ahead, a growing number of radiologic technologists will find jobs in offices of physicians, health maintenance organizations, diagnostic imaging centers, and freestanding cancer clinics.

A radiologic technologist processes films of patient X-rays at a hospital. Radiologic technologists are also responsible for writing reports and maintaining equipment. (© Martha Tabor/Working Images Photographs. Reproduced by permission.)

Working Conditions

Radiologic technologists generally work forty hours per week. Sometimes they must work night and weekend shifts. Part-time work is often available.

Radiologic technologists need manual dexterity and mechanical ability. They come in contact with a wide variety of people and should be sympathetic and friendly. Their working environment is usually clean and pleasant. Technologists should be in good health and must always work carefully to avoid exposing themselves and others to harmful radiation.

Where to Go for More Information

American Association for Women Radiologists
4550 Post Oak Place, Ste. 342
Houston, TX 77027
(713) 965-0566

American Society of Radiologic Technologists
15000 Central Ave. SE
Albuquerque, NM 87123-3917
(800) 444-2778

Radiological Society of North America
820 Jorie Blvd.
Oak Brook, IL 60523-2251
(800) 381-6660

Earnings and Benefits

Salaries depend on education, experience, and location. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that radiologic technologists earned a median income of $43,350 per year in May 2004. Benefits include paid holidays and vacations, health insurance, and pension plans.

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