Radiology technicians, aka technologists are involved in handling medical diagnostic imaging using several techniques such as radiography (X-rays), fluoroscopy, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT scanning), mammography and specialized methods of diagnostic imaging such as cardiovascular imaging, diagnostic sonography and nuclear medicine. Some essential guidelines on how to become a radiology technician are discussed below.
In addition to the core jobs mentioned above, radiology technicians are responsible for the following tasks:
- Preparing patients for radiographic imaging, positioning them for optimum exposure to the radiological equipment and preventing exposure to X-rays;
- Manipulate controls and setting on X-ray machines to get films as per the requesting physician’s instructions;
- Follow health and safety procedures prescribed to prevent unnecessary radiation exposure to themselves, patients and other hospital personnel;
- Develop X-ray films as per established procedures, maintain records, prepare reports and manage the repair and maintenance of equipment under their control.
Education, certification & training
- High school diploma or other approved GED equivalent with emphasis on science and math;
- Diploma, associate or bachelor degree programs of 1-4 years’ duration in radiography is essential;
- Medical personnel trained in other areas of specialization such as nursing or other diagnostic technicians can make a lateral move into radiology by completing an approved one-year certification program;
- Training during the 1-4 years’ radiology education programs will include theoretical and field instruction in patient care, anatomy, physiology, radiation theory and protection, radiobiology, imaging techniques and methodology, pathology, ethics, etc.
- Most states prescribe licensure standards and regulations for practicing radiology technicians in the fields of medicine and dentistry;
- Certification is approved and provided by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT); candidates must complete an accredited program and past the prescribed examinations;
- Recertification requirements include continuing education of 24 hours, biannually.
Career advancement can include supervisory or managerial roles, but these require a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Lateral moves into nuclear medicine, fluoroscopy, MRI and CT imaging, etc are possible provided you complete the training and certification requirements for these specialization categories.
Jobs are mostly available in large hospitals, healthcare facilities, diagnostic test centers, etc. Annual income for radiology technicians ranges from $32,750 to $68,920 as per data for 2006, provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The expected annual growth in the number of radiology technician jobs over the next 5 years is also very positive, with an annual rate of 15% per year.