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Radiologist technicians are medical professionals who use images, like x-rays, to diagnose health problems. If you want to work in healthcare, becoming a radiology tech may take less time than other careers. You might be able to decide if this is the right medical job for you if you know more about the requirements for the job, the duties, and the average salary. This article answers some common questions about how to become a radiology tech, such as how long it takes to get started in this field.
A radiologist technician, also called a radiology tech or radiologic tech, is a person who works in the medical field and takes pictures of internal organs, bones, and tissues to help doctors make diagnoses. They may use x-rays, computer tomography (CT) scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to find out what’s wrong. Their daily tasks depend on their area of specialization, but some of the most common ones are:
The requirements to become a radiology tech depend on where you live and what you want to specialize in, but here are some of the most common ones:
Before they can get their certification, radiologists have to finish a program of study. They have to finish high school or get a GED first. Then, depending on where they are and what they want, they can choose one of the following routes:
Certificate program: In some states, people who want to become radiology techs can finish a certification program at a local college or hospital or online. These programs can be finished in one to two years, but most of them require applicants to have had medical training or experience before.
Associate degree: Most radiology techs get their education at the associate degree level. Most of these programs last for two years. Students can focus on classes in science, health, and radiology.
Bachelor of Science in Radiology Science: Some schools offer this degree. In this program, students can choose to focus on training in radiology. This is usually not required for this job, but it could help radiology techs get a better job or qualify for a position in management.
Radiologic techs are required by many states and organizations to sign up with the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). For professionals to be certified by the ARRT, they must meet the following requirements:
Radiology techs who want to work in the field must first get the ARRT certification in general radiology. They can also get an extra certification in a specialty like sonography or mammography if they want to. To do this, you need to pass another test.
To keep their registration, radiology techs must recertify every two years through the ARRT. This means taking more classes or getting more training to keep up with the latest radiological technology.
Most states need radiologist technicians to have a license. Many of these states use the results of the ARRT exam and registration as part of the licensing process. Some states might have their own test. If you want to become a radiology tech, you should check the rules in your state before planning your next steps.
Most radiology techs need these skills to do well in their jobs:
Radiology techs work with both patients and other healthcare workers. They must have good communication skills so they can talk to patients about medical procedures and work with doctors.
Problem-solving: When doing imaging tests, radiology techs have to figure out how to fix problems and adjust the equipment so that the images are clear.
Organizational skills: Radiology techs keep medical records on patients and may send images to more than one doctor or nurse. For accuracy, they need to pay close attention to the details and be good at organizing.
Medical and anatomical knowledge: Radiology techs need a lot of medical and anatomical knowledge to do their jobs every day. For accurate diagnostic images, they need to know how the body works and what common illnesses look like.
In most states, you need a license to work as a radiologist. The requirements for getting a license can be different in each place, but usually, you need an associate’s degree, to have passed the ARRT exam, and to have an ARRT certificate. Each state makes its own rules about how to get a license, and some states may let radiology technicians work after they finish a certification program or sign up with the ARRT.
Depending on where you live and what you’ve done in the past, it can take anywhere from one to four years to become a radiologist tech. In some states, a radiologist tech can work after completing a one-year certification program if they have experience working in the medical field.
Most states require radiology techs to have an associate degree, which takes at least two years to finish. Some people who want to be techs finish part-time programs where they work during the day and go to classes at night or on the weekends. These programs can take more than two years to finish. Some radiologist techs choose to get a bachelor’s degree in science instead of an associate degree. This will take at least 4 years to finish.
Most people who want to become radiology technicians must also pass a certification exam and meet licensing requirements, which can take a few months.
How much does tech for radiology make?
One type of radiology technician, x-ray techs, makes an average of $57,546 per year on average across the country. Common benefits of this job include health insurance, savings for retirement, and paying for school so you can learn more. Salary can be different depending on where you work, what kind of healthcare organization you work for, how much education you have, and what you specialize in.
As a radiology tech, can you specialize?
Radiology techs can focus on different areas of health care. For each specialty, the daily tasks, average salary, and requirements might be a little different. In most states, you need more certifications to become a specialized radiology tech. Some areas of expertise are:
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