Education and Training: Certificate or two-year associate’s degree in radiology or radiological sciences.
Average Salary: $52,210 per year
Job Outlook: Very Good
Radiologist technicians perform a battery of diagnostic tests using diagnostic ultrasound equipment. The specific tests they perform include x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computer tomography (CT) scans, mammography exams ultrasounds, and fluoroscopies. They are part of a medical health care team and typically report to physicians. Many people know radiologist technicians as performing pregnancy ultrasounds, although this is only a small subset of their overall duties.
Radiologists also spend time performing administrative duties such as filing reports, interfacing with nurses and doctors, and ongoing education and training required for their position.
Education and Training Requirements
In order to become a radiologist, an individual must graduate from an accredited radiology program. Most programs operate under the auspices of a two-year community college, junior college, allied health college or trade school. Most institutions confer associate degrees but a growing number offer bachelor degrees that take a minimum of four years. Programs are built on a competitive admissions matrix so only the most qualified candidates are accepted. Programs have specific prerequisite courses which may include anatomy and physiology, statistics, cellular biology, organic and inorganic chemistry, psychology and medical terminology.
The curriculum is marked by a high level of academic rigor and hands-on learning conducted in an on-campus laboratory and real-world healthcare facilities. Students are required to perform several hundred hours working under the tutelage of a radiologist technician at a medical facility. One of the last graduation requirements is passing an internship where students practice all the skills they have learned.
Getting the Job
Upon graduation students sit for the state licensure exam. State requirements vary from state to state and are usually covered as part of the curriculum. Jobs are posted via traditional distribution channels such as internet job sites, career fairs, healthcare publications, and print/internet classified ads. Many students already have positions lined up upon completing their internship experience. Students and existing workers have a better chance at obtaining a job if they are willing to relocate. Bonuses and moving allowances are common in these types of situations.
Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development
Job growth is expected to be very good according to the latest industry data released by the United Stated labor Department. Growth has been influenced by an aging United States population that requires diagnostic care. Many radiologist technicians move into specialty diagnostic areas or move into administration where they become supervisors and managers. Job growth is expected to remain strong as healthcare demands continue to increase and the number of positions outnumber the applicant pool.
Working Conditions and Environment
Work is done in a medical setting. Radiologist technicians typically perform shift work, and non-traditional hours are common in medical professions. They often spend hours on their feet so physical stamina is important. Many radiologist technicians work in multiple facilities requiring reliable transportation. Schedules change often and on-call hours are common.
Salary and Benefits
The average annual salary is $52,210 as of 2008. Wages vary by location, healthcare organization, experience and hours worked. It is not uncommon for radiologist technicians to make significantly more than the median by working evening shifts, holidays and weekends. Full-time employees receive full medical and retirement benefits including paid vacation and sick days.
Where to Go for More Information
American Board of Radiology
5441 E Williams Blvd., Ste. 200
Tucson, AZ 85711
American Registry of Radiologic Technologists
1255 Northland Dr.
St. Paul, MN 55120-1155
American Society of Emergency Radiology
4550 Post Oak Pl., Ste. 342
Houston, TX 77027