Education and Training:Post secondary certificate, associate’s degree or bachelors degree in radiology, ultrasound technology, or radiography.
Average Salary: $52,210
Job Outlook: Very good
Radiographers perform diagnostic testing using a variety of software and equipment. The tests they perform include x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and mammography. They are a very important part of a medical team as the tests they perform help diagnose injuries, illness, and potential developmental problems. The testing they perform is non-invasive and is the preferred method of diagnosis because it does not require surgery. Radiographers can specialize in x-rays, ultrasound, computer tomography, and MRI. They can also specialize in working with specific populations such as pregnant women, seniors, children and athletes.
Radiographers work under the direct orders of physicians and must follow their directives.
Education and Training Requirements
Most radiology programs are housed at community and technical colleges. The majority of programs are two years and lead to an associate’s degree. Training programs are very rigorous in nature. Coursework includes cellular biology, anatomy and physiology, ultrasound technology, microbiology and chemistry. Programs also require students to spend several clinical hours in the laboratory and real medical facilities practicing what they learn in class. Most programs end with an internship at a medical facility. Students must also pass a licensing test as required by their particular state.
Getting the Job
For those interested in a career as a radiographer the biggest step is to complete the formal post secondary training program. Students are often hired at the facilities where they perform their internship because the healthcare organization is familiar with their skills and work ethic. State licensing requirements vary so students should check with their state.
Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development
The employment outlook for radiographers remains strong. The career field is expected to grow by 17% through 2018 which is faster than most occupations. Demand remains high because of the aging baby boomer population that has increased medical needs as well as an increase in the overall population. Prevalence of sickness and disease has also made a sharp increase making it necessary for more people of all ages, including children, to undergo diagnostic testing requiring the skills of radiographers. As society becomes more unhealthy the demand for medical services rises.
After gaining a few years of experience it is common for radiographers to branch out into specialty areas or go into healthcare administration. Most healthcare administration positions require a bachelor’s degree in the specific field or healthcare administration.
Working Conditions and Environment
Radiographers work in a medical setting. Many work at more than one facility which requires reliable transportation. Hours vary and include changing shift work and periods of being on-call. Physical stamina is an important quality because radiographers spend a lot of time on their feet and may be required to lift and transport injured or disabled patients. Protective medical clothing and equipment is required.
Salary and Benefits
Salary depends on geographic location, type of medical facility, experience and area of expertise. The average salary per year is $52,210 although it is not uncommon for radiographers to make much more if they are willing to work late shifts and overtime. Full time radiographers receive full medical, dental and retirement benefits. Part-time and per-diem employees may receive minimal or no benefits.
Where to Go for More Information
American Board of Radiology
5441 East Williams Blvd., Ste. 200
Tucson, AZ 85711
American Registry of Radiologic Technologists
1255 Northland Dr.
St. Paul, MN 55120-1155
Radiological Society of North America, Inc.
820 Jorie Blvd
Oak Brook, IL 60523-2251