Considering becoming an x-ray technician? You’re in for a pleasant surprise. Believe it or not, by 2024 career opportunities for radiologic technicians are projected to be among the fastest growing occupations across the US. The following information, as researched by Georgia College 411, reveals just what you need to know about a career in radiologic technology and as an x-ray technician. As your first step, join Georgia College 411 in looking at the career opportunities that exist in this field.
Top Jobs in Radiologic Technology
What Is Radiologic Technology?
Before you leap, Georgia College 411 wants you to gain a basic understanding of what radiologic technology entails. In the medical world, radiologic technology involves the use of x-rays, other medical imaging procedures and radiologic substances to capture internal images of a patient’s body. Typically, these images are takenas a result of injury or illnesses caused by trauma or disease processes and can be visualized on the x-ray films as black, white or gray images.
The x-ray images allow physicians to see what’s going on inside the body, interpret them and make a decision on their findings. X-ray images are taken of dense tissue and the findings could include any range of discoveries from broken bones to calcification or arthritis. Sometimes the results give the physician just enough information to request additional tests. In a nutshell, this technical field provides images that assist physicians in gaining clarity on illnesses and injuries before they diagnose or treat a patient.
If this excites you, Georgia College 411 wants you to read on.
What Is an X-Ray Technician?
As you might imagine, x-ray technicians are responsible for producing the medical images (in most cases x-rays) of specific areas of the body, as the attending physician requests them. As medical support professionals, x-ray technicians are certified and registered specialists in the operation of x-ray equipment. However, their limited scope of practice prohibits them from performing certain imaging procedures.
Once instructed by the doctor, as an x-ray technician, you must have the knowledge and expertise to operate the medical equipment. It is imperative that the images be clear and properly formatted on the x-ray film.
What Are the Job Duties of an X-Ray Technician?
While the responsibility of an x-ray technician is focused, the skills required to perform these duties are vast. Let'stake a closer look at a few of the responsibilities that Georgia College 411 has identified as being necessary for an x-ray technician.
Skills and Knowledge
Managing Patient Communication
Imagine being gowned and waiting to have x-rays taken that could reveal a serious health condition. You would want someone who is not only knowledgeable and skilled to guide you through this process but compassionate and able to comfort you as you may be feeling anxious about the procedure and possible results. That is why soft skills are necessary for an x-ray technician. You will be required to communicate with patients to help them feel at ease and to prepare them on what to expect.
As an x-ray technician, you will also prepare patients for radiologic examinations. You will not just explain the procedure, but provide necessary instructions such as removing jewelry before they can use the x-ray equipment. There are articles, such as metal, through which x-rays cannot pass. Some of these are removable, like jewelry or belt buckles, others cannot be removed, such as metal implants. In cases such as this, patient positioning is critical so that specific parts of the body can be appropriately radiographed.
Maintaining Compliance with Radiographic Safety Regulations
In this field, you will be trained to use radiation protective equipment and devices. This could include the use of lead shields and aprons, in addition to adjusting your equipment and machinery in ways that allow you to limit the size of the x-ray beam. This works in two ways. It prevents unnecessary exposure to patients, and it prevents unnecessary exposure to you as the radiation professional.
As if that’s not enough, you will learn proper use of the x-ray equipment. This could include positioning the radiographic equipment at the proper distance, angle, and height as it relates to the patient. This is another way to reduce unnecessary exposure. Obviously, you will also have the responsibility of keeping the machinery in good working order, developing radiographs, and managing radiographic records for each patient.
Providing Quality Assistance
Your work is not over just because the films have been taken. Georgia College 411 supports that technicians must remain available to discuss the images with the ordering physician. There could be quality issues with the film that require adjustments or retakes. You must be prepared to retake if images that are not clear enough, or if additional views are necessary.
Remember, the doctor requires these images to make an accurate diagnosis and/or develop a treatment plan for the patient. Thus, quality results and communication are necessary.
What Is the Education Requirement for X-Ray Technician?
Curious about the academic commitment required to join this growing field in health care? Georgia College 411 has identified what it takes and how you can make this dream a reality. Really, there are two simple steps. Let me explain. By dedicating anywhere from 18 months to two years you can earn your Associates degree. This could include taking management classes, radiography, even diagnostic medical sonography all which provide directly applicable skills and give you the necessary background to complete the first step in this process, which is earning your Associate’s degree. What an opportunity!
The next step is to gain state licensure. Georgia College 411 cannot go into detail in the specifics of licensure because the requirements vary by state. Maintaining this certification will require that you complete approximately 24 hours of continuing education courses in two-year intervals. And don’t overlook the possibility of earning voluntary certification through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).
Salary and Work Environment
As an x-ray technician, you can expect to earn a mean salary of $58,520. The median salary is reported to be $54,000. This will require a 40-hour work week. Generally, the salary for an x-ray technologist depends on employment setting. If you are close to a major city with a relatively large hospital, you can usually expect to earn a higher salary.
Typical Work Settings:
What Does a Work Day Consist Of?
In this field, GA College 411 recommends that you are prepared to work rotating shifts. This could require you to work overnight or maintain shifts that run two to three consecutive days. This career will require flexibility in work hours.
Remember, you have the option to focus on a particular area of medicine such as oncology, pediatrics. If you specialize, your path will be determined by the area in which you choose, whether it be pediatrics and gynecology, which could include x-ray fetal monitoring or mammography x-ray testing, for example.
10 Best X-Ray Technician Programs in Georgia
Georgia College 411 has identified some top X-Ray Technician programs in the state of Georgia that may be of interest to you. These programs are conveniently located all across the state. What that means for you is that you shouldn’t have to travel far to get started.
- Atlanta Technical College
- Gwinnett Technical College
- Lanier Technical College
- Central Georgia Technical College
- West Georgia Technical College
- Columbus Technical College
- Oconee Fall Line Technical College
- Dalton State College
- Georgia Northwestern Technical College
- Augusta Technical College
What Makes a Good X-Ray Technician Program?
To be perfectly honest, a good x-ray technician program is simply one that provides a sequence of courses that can prepare you for positions in radiology departments, related businesses and industries. Georgia College 411 recommends that you look closely at the available learning opportunities. Does it develop academic, technical, and professional knowledge? Will it allow you to gain skills required for job acquisition, retention, and advancement? Don’t overlook the importance of a program’s emphasis on a combination of didactic and clinical instruction.
Georgia College 411 Recommendations
Clearly, this is a growing career path in the medical field. It's a great place to get your foot in the door and utilize your expertise to help those in need. Remember, the x-ray technician program is the first level, but if you find that it is a good fit, there are opportunities to further explore and grow along the radiologic technology career path.
So if you want to enjoy the benefits of a low stress career, with good work-life balance, and that provides great earning potential but not the academic demands of most health care careers, then look no further. An Associate’s degree in medical science is your first step to discover this rewarding career path.