Education and Training: Certificate, associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in radiology or related program
Average Salary: $42,710-63,010 per year
Job Outlook:Very good
Radiography technicians perform diagnostic imaging tests using ultrasound technology. They use sophisticated medical equipment to produce x-rays, conduct magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests, CT scans, and mammograms under the direct orders from physicians. In addition to testing they also perform administrative duties such as data analysis and filing reports.
Radiography technicians must work well with patients, explaining the procedures and directing them how to position themselves in order to perform a successful test. Many radiography technicians work with the general population while some specialize in a particular type of test or technology. They are an important part of the medical team because the results of their tests help physicians develop proper care plans.
Education and Training Requirements
Community, technical and career colleges are the organizations that typically confer radiology degrees. The majority of programs offer two-year associate’s degrees but there are an increasing number of programs that offer bachelor’s degrees. The curriculum is very rigorous and includes coursework in cellular biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, diagnostic equipment, and ultrasound technology.
In addition to typical coursework radiology programs include extensive laboratory requirements. Students also spend several hundred hours working in a real medical facility learning their craft.
On-going training is an important aspect of the job as medical technology and patient care changes occur all the time. Ongoing training done through the healthcare organization as well as industry organizations and schools is common and often required.
Getting the Job
A career as a radiography technician requires very specific training and formal education. Many students end up working at the location where they performed their internships. Job postings are listed on career websites, medical organization websites, healthcare publications, and newspaper classified ads. State licensing varies by state. Graduates of radiology programs must pass the state licensing exam in order to be eligible to work.
Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development
The employment outlook is very strong through at least 2018 according to data released by the United States Department of Labor. Job growth is being fueled by increased demand for medical care by the aging population. Many radiography technicians end up specializing in a specific area of diagnostic imaging or move into medical administration by becoming managers.
Working Conditions and Environment
The work environment is fast-paced as technicians spend several hours on their feet in a medical facility. Hours vary greatly as radiography technicians are required to work various shifts and non-traditional hours including weekends and holidays. Many are required to be on-call a certain amount of hours per month.
A radiography technician may also work at multiple locations to meet demands of patients and doctors. Technicians must also be able to lift and transport patients in order to perform testing.
Salary and Benefits
The average salary range for a radiography technician is between $42,700-$63,010 per year. Salaries vary by organization, geographic location, experience and area of specialty. It is not uncommon for a radiography technician to make much more than the average by working non-traditional shifts and overtime.
Full-time radiography technicians receive full benefit packages including medical, dental, vision, and retirement. They also receive sick and vacation days. Many technicians start off part-time or per-diem and receive minimal benefits.
Where to Go for More Information
American Board of Radiology
5441 E Williams Blvd., Ste. 200
Tucson, AZ 85711
American Society of Head and Neck Radiology
2210 Midwest Rd., Ste 207
Oak Brook, Illinois 60523-8205
American Society of Radiologic Technologists
15000 Central Ave. SE.
Albuquerque, NM 87123