How to Become an X-Ray Technician

How to Become an X-Ray Technician

X-ray technicians are in high demand in hospitals, dental and medical practices, and diagnostic imaging centers. As an important member of the medical diagnostic team, x-ray technicians work directly with patients to take x-ray films which allow doctors and dentists to diagnose health issues and provide quality care.

What does an x-ray technician do?

X-ray techs, also called radiologic technologists or radiology technicians, are most often employed in hospital settings, but also work in doctor’s offices, diagnostic laboratories and diagnostic imaging centers. The primary duties of an x-ray technician include preparing patients for x-rays, and taking and developing the x-ray film for use in medical diagnosis.

Experienced x-ray techs sometimes specialize in particular diagnostic imaging practices, including mammography, computed tomography (CAT) scan, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), or fluoroscopic imaging. State laws regulate the types of diagnostic imaging techniques that x-ray technicians may perform.

What kind of training does an x-ray technician need?

Programs for x-ray technicians range from 1-4 years in length, resulting in a certificate, associate degree or bachelor degree. One-year accelerated X-ray technician programs are generally designed for professionals already working in the healthcare field who want to change careers or expand their medical knowledge. Bachelor-level programs are generally pursued by those who wish to advance into supervisory or administrative positions.

Two-year associate degree radiologic technologist programs are the most commonly pursued option, followed by voluntary certification through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). To be eligible for certification, students must complete an accredited program and pass the certification exam. Click here for a list pf programs for online x-ray technician training.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2007, 40 states required licensure to work as an x-ray technician, and 35 states required the ARRT exam for state licensure. (1)

X-ray technician certification requires the student to complete 24 continuing education credits every two years to maintain their certification. Additional training and education is required to specialize in certain diagnostic imaging techniques, such as CT scanning or angiography. Click here for a list of programs for radiology technician training.

What are the prospects for a career as an x-ray technician?

X-ray technician jobs are expected to increase by 15% by 2016. (1) This growth rate is somewhat higher than the average growth rate across all industries. With the increase of outpatient care, radiology technician employment opportunities outside of hospitals are expected to increase. Technicians who are familiar with a variety of imaging techniques will have a distinct advantage, as well.

X-ray technician careers, being part of the healthcare industry, are proportionally more recession-resistant than other non-medical careers. Click here to train as an x-ray technician online.

How much do x-ray technicians make?

The average x-ray technician salary varies greatly depending on their geographical location, specialization, experience, and the type of medical office or institution in which they work. The median base salary for x-ray technicians across the United States is $44,900 to $49,500, with the top 25% earning over $55,300. (2)

Radiology technicians provide valuable assistance for physicians and dentists to quickly and efficiently diagnose patients and plan treatment. With the expected growth rate in employment for x-ray technicians and a higher salary than most entry-level positions in healthcare, becoming an x-ray technician is a great idea for people who would like to work directly with patients in a healthcare setting. Click here for a list of programs so you can find out how to become an x-ray technician.

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