Job Function and Duties
An X-ray technician is responsible for taking patient X-ray images in accordance with physician instructions. The technician is responsible for explaining the X-ray process to the patient and positioning the patient for imaging. The technician adjusts and moves the X-ray equipment in order to ensure good exposure and location for the images. The X-ray tech is also responsible for safety through the X-ray process, using shielding to minimize radiation exposure to themselves, other staff and the patient. Once X-ray images are captured, the technician will process the radiographs using either traditional film processing or computer-generation techniques.
School and Training
Most U.S. states require X-ray technicians to be licensed. Licensing involves meeting basic educational requirements as set by the state; a certification examination must also be passed. Most states will waive the certification exam if a person already holds national certification with the American Registry of X-Ray Technicians (ARRT). This ARRT certification requires completion of an approved training course. Such training courses may be as short as six months' full-time study. However, beginning in 2015 the ARRT will only offer certification to candidates who have completed one of the accredited associate's degree programs. These programs are offered at many schools nationwide. Degrees in X-ray technology involve studying human anatomy, physics and biology. Certain programs and classes include healthcare skills such as phlebotomy. The majority of degree programs for X-ray technicians include practical training together with theoretical learning.
Compensation and Earnings
Indeed.com reports the average annual salary for an X-ray technician in the United States as $46,000. The website Payscale.com indicates that the average hourly rate for an X-ray tech in the United States is $16.27 at the time of writing. Nationally, the average hourly wage ranges from a low of $10.45 to a high of $24.45. These wages equate to annual salaries of between $23,112 and $54,053. The location of X-ray tech work affects the prevailing wage or salary; overtime rates can push the hourly rate over $40 in some locations.