Radiology Technician Training Schools & Degree Programs

Radiologic technologists and technicians are able to take images of the inside of the human body. These images help doctors and other medical personnel determine the condition of a patient. For example, these technicians may take an x-ray to determine what ailment is going on in the body.

The x-ray is only one modality to image the human body. There are others also. For example, mammography, tomography, and magnetic resonance are all modalities that provide important clues to the inside of the human body.

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Nature of the Work For A Rad Tech

Radiologic technicians are sometimes referred to as radiographers. They take x-ray films for use in diagnosing problems in the human body. These professionals prepare the patient for the process by explaining the procedure and instructing the patient to remove jewelry and clothing. The Radiologic technologist must position the patient in the right way to get the best image of the body part.

The technician must cover all other affected areas with a lead cover. This reduces the patient’s exposure to unnecessary radiation. The trained technician can also reduce the size of the x-ray beam to reduce radiation exposure. The technician or technologist must position the equipment correctly. They must measure the width of the area to be photographed, and then they can adjust the equipment to get the right density, contrast, and detail of the body.

A Radiologic technologist must be able to follow directions from the doctor. In addition, the technician must follow federal and hospital guidelines regarding exposure to radiation. The technician must perform certain strategies to protect themselves, patients, and colleagues from exposure to radiation. Technicians and technologists also have to maintain patient records, and they must maintain equipment.

Furthermore, some Radiology technicians must perform more complex imaging. During fluoroscopies, the radiologist must prepare the patient a special drink. This special solution enables the radiographer and physician to see soft tissues in the human body. Another specialization is computed tomography. A CT scan produces an x-ray that is a substantial cross-section of the body. The CT scan uses ionizing radiation, so precautionary measures must be taken to avoid excessive radiation exposure.

Additionally, radiologists can specialize in magnetic resonance imaging. For instance, the mammography exam uses low doses of radiation to produce images of the breast.

Work Environment

Radiologic technologists and technicians require a great amount of physical stamina. These professionals must stand on their feet for long periods of time. They may also have to lift and turn patients that are disabled in some way. Bed ridden patients may have to have radiology procedures done at their bedside. Also, radiology technicians can often put equipment in a van and bring the equipment to the home or residence of the patient.

There are radiation hazards involved in this career; however, lead aprons, gloves, and other shielding devices reduce the chance of exposure to the radiation. Technicians and technologists are required to wear badges that measure the amount of radiation that the worker receives. This measurement is kept over the career of this professional.

Training, Qualifications, and Advancements

There are a number of ways to become a Radiologic technologist or technician. A person can enter through hospital training, college or university training, or military training. Most states require some type of licensure in radiology. The requirements vary according to the state.

A person can earn a certificate, associate degree, or bachelor degree. The associate degree is the most popular degree among working radiologists. Most certificate programs last between 21-24 months. There is an accrediting body that accredits different programs in radiology. This credential ensures that the program passes all regulations and guidelines. The programs provide both classroom and clinical instruction. Students study medical terminology, pharmacology, physiology, and anatomy. There are many other courses covered during the training program also.

Advancement is possible within the field. Those with a bachelor degree have a greater chance of getting supervisory positions. Also, those with a bachelor degree or higher have more options available to them during the course of their career.

Employment

Statistics show there were over 214,000 jobs in 2008 in radiology technology. The greatest number of jobs were in hospitals. The percentage of technicians in hospitals was approximately 61%. The remainder of professionals worked in doctor’s offices, nursing homes, ambulatory centers, and other medical facilities.*

*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/

Job Outlook

The job outlook for Radiologic technicians and technologists is great. The BLS expects vacancies to grow as much as 20%. Jobs will be more plentiful due to the growing number of elderly Americans requiring care. Diagnostic imaging is very important in detecting disease. The decision to perform imaging is ultimately based on insurance concerns; however, doctors are increasingly convinced that early disease detection can be achieved through imaging. The CT scan is becoming more popular as a frontline tool.*

*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/

Earnings

The median salary for Radiologic technologists is around $50,000 per year. This figure is based on a survey done in 2008. The middle percentage of technicians in this field bring home between $42,000 to $62,000. The lowest earning group brought home a little more than $35,000, and the top income earners within the profession brought home more than $74,000 per year.*

*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/

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