What's more, it is an easy job to get, considering the many positions available. If you want a growing and adaptable career that puts you in control, then you might want to become a radiologic technologist.
What Is a Radiologic Technologist?
Radiologic technologists are medical professionals who perform imaging work aimed at diagnosis or the ruling out of disease or injury. They use complex machinery to produce medical images, such as X-ray exams, computed tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Radiologic technologists work with radiologists to interpret these images with the goal of diagnosing or ruling out a condition.
Attention to detail is an important skill to have as a radiologic technologist as there must be no errors in the process of the imaging examination so that the images can be interpreted correctly. Patience is a skill required in the imaging process to ensure the accuracy of the image.
An associate's degree is required to become a radiologic technologist. You are able to train for this profession in a variety of environments, such as colleges, vocational-technical institutions, hospitals, and even the U.S. Armed Forces. Increased popularity in the field means there will be more competition to get into radiology education programs and careers.
High schools students who are interested in this career may want to take science and math courses like anatomy, physiology, biology, physics, and chemistry to prepare them for college. During the approximately two years it takes to earn an associate's degree, you will take many courses aimed at preparing you for entry into the field.
Courses range from anatomy and pathology to basic patient care and patient positioning. Equipment protocols, equipment techniques, examination techniques and image evaluation will also be studied. In addition, some classes will focus specifically on the safety aspect of the job, such as radiation safety, radiation physics and radiation protection.
In 2015, the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists listed a minimum of an associate's degree as a requirement to take the certification exams. While all states may not require certification, it is wise to look at the requirements of your state and consider the benefits of going to an accredited program.
Hospitals, for example, prefer to hire people with not only formal education, but national accreditation as well. For more information and a list of accredited programs, you can refer to the Joint Review Committee Radiologic Technology or the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.
10 Reasons to Become a Radiologic Technologist
Full-time radiological technologists work 40 hours a week while standing on their feet, so they must also have physical stamina. Additionally, they may be on-call on the evenings or weekends.
If you don't mind, or even prefer, working on your feet, this may be a great fit for you. Part-time and shift work opportunities are also available to radiological technologists. While there are likely many reasons to pursue this exciting career, here are ten of the best reasons you should become a radiologic technologist:
1. Two-Year Degree
While no two programs are the same, an associate's degree in radiologic technology typically takes two years to earn. You will take classes like anatomy, pathology, and patient care. You will get to experience both educational and clinical training to prepare you for your role as a radiologic technologist.
Many states will require licensure or certification. Even in the states that do not require this, employers often prefer or even require certification.
2. Desirable Salary
The median salary for 2017 was $58,440. That is almost $30 an hour. There is the potential for salary to increase with time and specialization within the field. Even entry-level radiologic technologists start out making over $45,000 a year.
Certain specializations, such as MRI technology, can be particularly lucrative. You will earn even more if you decide to pursue a bachelor's degree and become a radiologist. In addition, most radiologic technologist jobs provide attractive benefits.
3. Job Security
Employment in radiologic technology is expected to grow 12% from 2016 until 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Graduating from an accredited program and earning multiple certifications is the best way to maximize job prospects. Interestingly, employment for MRI technologists is expected to grow 14% in that same time frame, which is faster than the average of all other occupations.
These statistics are partially driven by the members of the baby boomer generation getting older. Unfortunately, with a growing population, medical conditions like cancer and broken bones increase; but that's where you would step in to help make a crucial step in the medical journey of your patients.
The positive job outlook means that there are many positions that are currently open. Since the initiation of the Affordable Care Act and subsequent increase in newly covered patients, hospitals are even having trouble getting enough people to fill these positions. Because of these things, it is considered an easy job to get.
4. Career Versatility
When you become a radiologic technologist, you can choose specializations like radiation therapy, MRI technology, and mammography. It typically takes less than five years of work experience as a radiological technologist before you can advance to an MRI technologist.
Additionally, you could pursue similar careers, such as those of nuclear medicine technologist, diagnostic medical sonographer, and cardiovascular technician.
5. Ability to Work Anywhere
You will have many choices about where you want to work as a radiologic technologist. Many radiological technologists work in state, local, and private hospitals. Many more work in physician offices, outpatient care centers, medical and diagnostic labs, and federal government positions. Unlike most jobs, the job prospects are about the same across the U.S.
With your specific knowledge and skills and the number of positions that need to be filled, you will have no problem finding an array of jobs in the field just about anywhere you move.As with anyone starting out in a medical profession, it is probably best to avoid small towns as they will have fewer openings.
On the other hand, there are many U.S. cities that are hotbeds for the medical industry and should be considered first. Once you have gained experience and rapport, you will be able to transfer to another hospital with relative ease.
6. Helping People
Your job as a radiologic technologist plays a crucial and necessary step in diagnosing and subsequently treating patients. In your job, the patient always comes first, as they are at the very heart of your job.
You apply your knowledge and skills, such as attention to detail, to imaging techniques and analysis that help patients get the answers they need to begin healing or continue on their medical journey.
As a radiologic technologist, your imaging work is a vital diagnostic step on the path to healing patients. You will probably feel satisfied in a job that allows you to use your knowledge to help others.
In addition, it is a plus that you help people nonevasively. Unlike other jobs in health care, you will not come into contact blood and other bodily fluids.
7. Work Alone or with Others
It does not matter if you are an introvert or an extrovert if you want to be a radiologic technologist.
This career provides you with the opportunity act independently make decisions on your own while reporting to a superior. Even though you may be part of a team, there will be plenty of times when you will be left alone to do your job.
8. Active and Varied Work Atmosphere
Although you will be working with a computer, you will not be have to sit at a desk. You can walk around and interact with patients in between doing your varied tasks.
You will work with patients, sophisticated imagery machinery, and chemicals for mixing imagery. Your tasks range from positioning patients and prepping equipment to evaluating results as a part of a team.
9. Good Work Life Balance
This job will allow you to enjoy your free time as long as you are flexible when it comes to your schedule. You may not get the best shifts when you start out, possibly having to work graveyard shifts.
However, after the initial period, radiologic technicians typically get extended time off. Like many people in a hospital setting, you may work four 12-hour shifts and then have 3 days off. If you put in enough time at your job, you may eventually get weekends off as well.
10. Chance to Be an Innovator
Being a radiologic technologist puts you at the heart of innovation where imaging technology is rapidly advancing. Hyperspectral imaging, 3D ultrasonic holography, and Polarized Nuclear Imaging (PNI) are just a few of the newest procedures.
Early diagnostic information, such as the presence of dementia or cancer, can be detected by PET scanning.
This may be the career for you if a good work life balance, a varied routine, and the ability to exercise autonomy are important to you. You will be able to help people by utilizing the latest technology in an interesting and challenging career.
If you are willing to put in the time and effort toward becoming a radiologic technologist, you are guaranteed to have many job opportunities awaiting you when you complete your educational requirements.