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A radiology technician, sometimes referred to as an x-ray technician or radiologic technologist, is an important and interesting occupation within the allied health care field. Radiology technicians support physicians, surgeons, and other medical staff by providing images of the human body for diagnosing and treatment. Radiology technician schools prepare a person to become certified or licensed in the radiology field and begin a career in health care.
Radiology Technician Education
Requirements vary from state to state, but most certification or license programs require an associate’s degree to become a radiology technician. While associate degrees are the most common, there are certificate and bachelor degree programs available as well. A radiology technician certificate program is the fastest path to a career in radiology, and generally takes 6-12 months to complete.
License or Certification
Once a person has completed the required training to become a radiology technician, he/she must pass an exam to become certified or licensed in that state. The state may have its own exam, or the student may be required to take the exam from the The American Registry of Radiologic Technologist (ARRT).
Radiology Technician Duties
Radiology technician schools prepare students with the skills they need to effectively complete their job duties. The main duty of a radiology technician is to perform diagnostic imaging examinations on patients in a clinic or hospital setting. The most common imaging equipment operated by a radiology technician is the x-ray machine. The technician is responsible for operating and adjusting the equipment for each patient. The technician must be able to follow close instructions from physicians regarding which areas of the body to provide images for. A radiology technician may be required to touch patients and help them position correctly to provide accurate images. Finally, radiological techs must have the ability to view images to determine whether they need to be taken again.
In the health care world there are many different types of uses for radiology equipment. Images can be generated using computed tomography (CT), x-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), etc. In turn, radiology technicians may become specialized in a certain field of their trade. For instance, some rad techs may provide basic x-ray examinations while others specialize in mammography.
Radiology Technician Salary
Radiology technicians provide important and necessary services to medical professionals. Therefore they have a slightly higher salary than other allied health care occupations. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average median salary for radiology technicians in the U.S. was $55,240 per year or about $27 per hour, as of 2013. The lowest ten percent earned less than $37,600 and the highest ten percent earned more than $78,400 per year.
Radiology Technician Jobs
As of April 2013, Indeed.com, one of the largest online job sites, identified the average radiology technician salary for jobs they offer was $67,000 in the United States. There are also opportunities for advancement, such as becoming a Radiology Department Manager, which has an average annual salary of $122,000.
Radiology Technician Job Outlook
The BLS has indicated the potential for a 21% growth in the radiology technician field between 2012 and 2022. This growth translates into roughly 41,000 new radiology technician jobs over the identified time period. This is good news for people thinking about starting a new career or college students who are worried about the future job market for radiology technicians. Because an larger percentage of people, mostly Baby Boomers, will be reaching older age in the next period, there will be an increasing demand for health care professionals who can provide medical services to this population.
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