How to Become a Radiology Technician

Radiology technicians, also known as radiologic technologists or x-ray technicians, are medical professionals who work with a variety of radiologic scanning equipment to take images of patients that help doctors find and diagnose any health conditions. These machines may be x-ray machines, MRIs, CT scanners, or mammography machines.

Radiology technicians most often work in hospitals, but also often work in diagnostic laboratories, diagnostic imaging centers, and private doctor’s offices. Primary duties and responsibilities include preparing people for x-rays, and taking and developing film to be used in medical diagnosis. These medical professionals capture images of tissue and bone structures using electromagnetic radiation.

How to become a radiology technician

In order to become a radiology technician, you’ll need physical strength because you may need to lift or turn disabled patients, as well as spend long hours standing. Before becoming a radiology technician, you may opt to specialize in a specific field such as mammography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), angiography, fluoroscopic imaging, bone densitometry and computed tomography (CT) scans.

The more specialties you have knowledge in, the better your job prospects will be. Here’s how to become radiology technician.

Step 1-Education requirements

Before getting into this field, you will need to complete formal training and get the right credentials. First of all, you have to start researching radiology technician schools near your area. Find a school that offers a program that leads to a certificate or a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in the field. An associate’s degree takes two years to complete while a bachelor’s degree takes four years. A bachelor’s degree is essential for those who want to further their career and land a supervisory or administrative position. Medics who aim to change career paths or expand their knowledge can complete a one-year certification program.

Step 2-Licensure and certification

Most states require one to become licensed before working as an x-ray technician, but requirements vary from state to state. This requirement is to protect patients from overexposure to deadly radiation caused by poorly trained technicians.

The ARRT provides certification in various specialties. Several states also use ARRT exams for licensing purposes. To gain certification, you must have completed an accredited x-ray technician program. You also must pass the ARRT certification exam.

Step 3-Obtain employment

Once you become a radiology technician, you can work in a hospital setting, a private doctor’s office or a diagnostic imaging center. The number of job opportunities in this field is projected to grow by 21 percent from 2012 to 2022, largely due to advancements in technology.

Step 4-Specialize

Mammography, computed tomography (CT) and MRI are three radiology specialties that you may focus on. You may also choose radiation therapy, ultrasound technology and nuclear medicine. By specializing, you might eventually rise to become a radiology teacher or director.

You never really complete radiology technician training, even if you earn a good salary and have an advanced degree. Over time, medical technology changes with new advancements coming up, so you have to update your knowledge by taking continuing education.