What Can a Radiology Tech Do?

Radiology techs are an important part of the healthcare team. They use imaging equipment to help diagnose and treat patients. Find out what else they do!

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Job Description

A radiologic technologist is a medical professional who uses imaging techniques, such as x-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, and ultrasounds to help diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries.

Duties of a Radiology Technician

Radiology technicians use imaging equipment to provide diagnostic support to physicians. They work closely with patients, providing instructions and reassurance to help them remain calm and still during the exam. They also maintain the equipment and keep accurate records.

Specific duties of a radiology technician may include:
-Preparing patients for radiologic exams
-Positioning patients for radiologic exams
-Operating x-ray, fluoroscopy, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or other radiologic equipment
-Selecting technical factors such as voltage, current, time and exposure for each radiographic procedure
-Monitoring patient comfort and safety during the exam
-Ensuring that images are of diagnostic quality
-Cleaning and maintaining equipment

Specializations within the Field of Radiology

The field of radiology is quite diverse, and there are many specializations within the field. Here are just a few examples of the types of radiologists you may encounter:

-Diagnostic radiologists use imaging to diagnose disease.
-Interventional radiologists use imaging to guide minimally-invasive procedures.
-Nuclear medicine physicians use radioactive materials to diagnose and treat disease.
-Radiation oncologists use radiation to treat cancer.

Each of these specialties requires different training and skills, but all radiologists use imaging to help patients in some way.

Education and Training

A radiologic technologist is an important member of the health care team. Radiology techs are specially trained to produce diagnostic images of the human body using X-ray, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear medicine, positron emission tomography (PET), and ultrasound. They also administer non-radioactive materials into patients for medical diagnostic procedures.

Associate’s Degree in Radiologic Technology

An Associate’s Degree in Radiologic Technology will typically take two years to complete, although some schools offer accelerated programs that can be completed in as little as 18 months. During your course of study, you’ll take classes in anatomy and physiology, medical ethics, patient care, and radiographic procedures. You’ll also spend time in clinical rotations, where you’ll get hands-on experience working with patients and using radiologic equipment.

Upon completion of your Associate’s Degree in Radiologic Technology, you’ll be eligible to take the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) exam. Once you pass the exam and become registered, you’ll be able to pursue a career as a radiographer.

Certification and Licensure

Certification and licensure requirements for radiologic technologists and technicians vary by state. Most states regulate the practice of radiologic technology and require technologists and technicians to be licensed. Some states require certification in addition to licensure.Voluntary certification is also available for technologists and technicians through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) and several other professional organizations.

Most employers require radiologic technologists and technicians to be licensed or certified. To be eligible for licensure, candidates must graduate from an accredited program and pass a state- prescribed exam. Licensees must renew their license periodically, usually every 2 years, although requirements vary by state.

ARRT offers credentialing in radiography, radiation therapy, magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography, and medical dosimetry. To earn ARRT credentialing in radiography, candidates must complete an accredited educational program in radiography, earn continuing education credits periodically to maintain their credential, and pass written and skills examinations administered by ARRT
To be eligible for ARRT certification or registration, a candidate must meet one of the following general requirements:
-Be currently enrolled in an educational program that leads to eligibility for ARRT credentialing examinations; OR -Have graduated from an educational program that meets ARRT’s eligibility requirements; OR
-Be currently employed as a technologist or technician providing patient care services under the supervision of a licensed practitioner who has documented that the candidate meets all acceptable qualifications for independent practice in that modality; OR -Have met all requirements for academic excellence established by the Council on Educational Resources in Radiologic Technology (CERRA); OR -Have completed military training accepted by CERRA as equivalent to an accredited educational program; OR -Have been credentialed through another primary pathway as described below

Career Outlook

Radiology techs are in high demand due to the aging population. The median salary for a radiology tech is $58,310 per year. Radiology techs can find employment in hospitals, clinics, physician offices, and imaging centers. There is a projected job growth of 14% from 2018-2028, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.

Job Growth

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of radiologic and MRI technologists is expected to grow much faster than average for all occupations between 2018 and 2028. In 2018, there were over 222,000 jobs in this field. This is expected to grow to over 253,000 by 2028. This amounts to about 21,000 new jobs added during this 10-year period.

Salary

The salary for a radiology tech can vary greatly depending on experience, education, location, and other factors. The median annual salary for a radiology tech was $60,070 in May 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The lowest 10 percent earned less than $43,040, while the highest 10 percent earned more than $82,550.

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