Radiologic Technologists (RTs), also called radiographers and radiologic technicians, prepare and perform radiographic exams, including x-rays, fluoroscopies, computed tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic resonance imagery (MRIs). They work primarily in medical facilities and always under a doctor's direction. In all but seven U.S. states and the District of Columbia (as of June 2009), state law governs their education and practice.
Find out whether your state licenses radiologic technologists by going to the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) Web site. The ARRT is the national organization that tests and certifies radiologic technologists. At the ARRT Web site, first click on State Licensing and then State Contacts. If you do not find your state on the ARRT site, you should go to the Legislative & Regulatory section of the American Society of Radiologic Technologists Web site (www.asrt.org). That section also lists state contacts and identifies which states do not have licensing boards. If your state does not license RTs, you can proceed to choosing your certificate program.
Get a list of approved certificate programs from your state's licensing agency or its Web site. If your state does not license RTs, you can research radiography training programs at the Web site of the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT), which accredits radiologic technology training programs in the United States. You can also gather valuable information by asking medical professionals in your local community which programs are the most respected and accepted by the employers you want to apply to after you earn your certificate.
Select a program that meet your state's requirements. In most cases, that will mean a two-year certificate program run by a medical facility or a community college affiliated with a medical facility. It will also mean a program that prepares you to take the ARRT exam. Not every state requires the ARRT exam, however, so know your state's requirements. Once you've selected a program, you should re-confirm with your state licensing agency that the program meets the state's requirements before you pay any money to the school.
The coursework will be challenging and science-based. Courses will include human anatomy, radiologic technology, diagnostic imaging, physics, chemistry, ethics, psychology, communication skills, and other related topics. Clinical labs will teach you how to position bodies for x-rays and how to communicate effectively and humanely with patients. Exams will test you on all aspects of your coursework.
Once you pass all the exams for your program, you will be awarded a certificate by your school. In most cases, however, you will still need to pass the state licensing board's exam to work in the state. Most states use the ARRT exam as their licensing exam. Once you pass the ARRT exam you will be eligible to obtain a state license and to become an ARRT-certified radiologic technologist.
Your final step will be to apply for and obtain your state license. You may also want to apply for ARRT certification because, in most cases, you will now meet the eligibility requirements.