Radiology technicians operate x-ray machines and other imaging equipment, such as computerized axial tomography (CAT) and positron emission tomography (PET) scan devices. They produce pictures of the inner body that reveal broken bones, cancer, heart disease and brain disorders. Radiology technicians take care of patients and work closely with physicians. Their job usually provides a good salary as well as benefits. And it's a job that only requires two years of training.
Careers in Radiology Technology
In addition to operating the imaging equipment that shows what's going on inside a patient's body, radiology technicians protect the patient and themselves from overexposure to x-rays, administer barium- and iodine-based contrast media, evaluate the quality of the images and redo the procedure if necessary, maintain patient records and manage inventory. They work a 40-hour week which often includes some evenings and weekends. Some radiology technicians specialize in certain fields, such as oncology or mammography. Those who specialize usually earn more money than those who do not.
Education in Radiology Tech
Most radiology technicians earn an Associate of Science degree. Scott Community College in Iowa is a typical program. Course work for the first year includes radiographic procedures, imaging, medical terminology and special procedures. Second-year students study physics, film evaluation, radiation biology, pathology and quality assurance, as well as general studies courses such as psychology, speech and sociology. The program also includes clinical practice. Lone Star College in Texas offers a similar program called Medical Radiologic Technology, A.A.S. Coursework at Lone Star includes anatomy and physiology, radiation protection and biology and radiographic imaging equipment, as well as courses from the general core and clinical experience.
Certification in Radiology Tech
The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) is the official accrediting body for radiography training programs, according to "Inner Body." Prospective students considering a career as a radiography technician need to make sure their school is accredited by JRCERT. After completing their course work, students need to pass an examination administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Most states also require radiology technicians to be licensed. In some states, passing the ARRT test qualifies people to get a license, but the law is different in every state.
Salary and Job Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average annual salary for a radiology technician was $54,340 in 2010. Job growth in the healthcare field is expected to be steady due to the needs of an aging population; the BLS projected job growth in this field to be 28 percent from 2010 to 2020, twice as high as the average job growth of 14 percent. "Radiologic technologists with multiple certifications will have the best job prospects," the BLS said.