How to Become a Radiologic Technologist

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Radiography is an important part of the medical field that uses x-rays and other imaging procedures to view the interior aspects of the body to diagnose and treat diseases and conditions. Radiologic technologists are trained medical professionals that perform a variety of diagnostic-imaging procedures.

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What does a radiologic technologist do?

Radiologic technologists perform diagnostic tests and administer nonradioactive materials to patients to assist in diagnosing and treating a variety of conditions. They prepare and position patients for tests, thoroughly explain procedures, and answer any questions. They position the radiographic equipment at varying heights and angles to effectively take images of certain areas of a patient’s body. They measure the body areas and set the controls on the equipment to the appropriate contrast, detail, and density. They then place x-ray films or other required equipment under the body area to create the image. Radiologic technologists also keep track of patient records and maintain and adjust equipment. They use a variety of protection devices such as lead shields to prevent unnecessary radiation exposure.

What kind of training does a radiologic technologist need?

Radiologic technologists must complete formal training in radiography. Many colleges and universities and hospitals offer a variety of certificate, associate, and bachelor degree programs. The programs combine classroom instruction and clinical experience and students usually complete courses in anatomy and physiology, radiation physics, medical terminology, radiobiology, pathology, patient care procedures, positioning of patients, principles of imaging, radiation protection, and medical ethics. Most states require radiologic technologists to be licensed. Many gain voluntary certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Certification requirements include completion of an accredited radiography program and passing an examination. Continuing education courses are required every 2 years to maintain certification.

What are the prospects for a career as a radiologic technologist?

Employment of radiologic technologists is expected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 15% from 2006 to 2016 (1). A growing and aging population and increased demand for diagnostic imaging will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be favorable especially for radiologic technologists with training in various diagnostic-imaging procedures. Many job openings will stem from the need to replace radiologic technologists that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do radiologic technologists make?

As of November 2009, the middle 50% of radiologic technologists earn annual salaries between $43,239 and $51,760. The top 10% earn annual salaries of more than $55,761 (2).

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