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How to Become A Radiology Technician

Radiology technicians are healthcare experts who are responsible for conducting diagnostic imaging scans, such as x-rays or MRIs, on a patient’s body in order to help doctors have a clearer view of  what’s going on inside a patient.

Radiology technicians play a pivotal role in the day-to-day activities of medical facilities. Some of their job responsibilities include:

  • Positioning x-ray equipment and using beam-restrictive devices and patient-shielding techniques in order to minimize radiation exposure

  • Positioning patient on examining table and setting up and adjusting equipment

  • Processing exposed radiographs

  • Explaining procedures to patients

  • Determining patients' x-ray needs by reading requests or instructions from physicians

  • Preparing and setting up the x-ray room for patient

  • Operating digital picture archiving communications systems

  • Transporting patients to and from exam rooms

How to Become a Radiology Technician

Do you have an undergraduate degree?

Radiology technicians are also known as radiologists. This career path typically does not require long years of schooling. In fact, you may need to spend two years or so pursuing an associate degree that may help you become eligible for a job as a radiology technician. But this is the minimum requirement that you need to fulfill in order to qualify for entry-level jobs into this profession. Various undergraduate degree programs as well as certificate courses that are offered in radiology will help you acquire the knowledge and skills to become a radiologist.

What courses will you study?

The associate and bachelor’s degrees will give you an opportunity study in classroom settings and also go through clinical experience to gain hands-on experience in the field. Some of the topics of study you may cover in these programs are:

  • Anatomy
  • Patient care
  • Radiation physics and protection
  • Radiation physics and protection
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Radiographic exposure
  • Pathology and positioning
  • Patient care
  • Image evaluation

You will also learn about infectious diseases, ionizing radiation and processing chemicals. Besides, the programs in radiology may provide you knowledge about protective clothing and devices. You may also get a chance to participate in seminars and clinical education. The advanced programs may include instruction in topics such as:

  • Radiologic analysis
  • Epidemiology
  • Radiologic science management
  • Radiologic health physics
  • Biostatistics
Do you need licenses or certifications?

Radiology technicians need to have a license in order to practice in some states. The requirements for licenses and certification vary by state. However, to become licensed, these professionals generally need to graduate from a program that has been accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology, and also pass a certification exam from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) or the state.

Do you have the skills?

Before you start pursuing a career in radiology, you need to have the following skills:

  • You must be detail-oriented as this work requires following the procedures exactly to get the images needed to diagnose and treat the patient.

  • You must also have good interpersonal skills because you have to work closely with patients.

  • You should be able to make them feel comfortable so that the imaging sessions do not become a daunting experience.

  • It is critical to have mathematical skills as these professionals need to calculate and mix the right dose of chemicals used in imaging procedures.

  • You must have physical stamina. Radiologists often work on their feet for long periods and they must be able to lift and move patients who need assistance.

  • Technical expertise is a must, since radiologists need to know how to operate complex machinery.
Possible Workplaces

As a radiology technician, you can potentially find work opportunities in a variety of settings including:

  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Physician offices
  • Diagnostic imaging centers
  • Outpatient care centers
What is the career outlook for radiologists?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that radiologic technologists held about 199,200 jobs in 2012. With an expected employment growth rate of 21% from 2012 to 2022, pursuing a career as a radiologist can be a smart decision. According to the BLS, as the population grows older, there will be an increase in medical conditions that may require imaging processes to diagnose them. Another factor for the increased demand for these professionals is that an increasing number of patients have health insurance, whereby increasing patient access to medical care.

About 59% of radiology technicians worked in general medical and surgical hospitals in 2012. The BLS reported that technicians with multiple certifications will have considerably better job prospects compared to those without these credentials.

Benefits of Becoming a Radiology Technician

Just like other medical experts, jobs for radiology technicians are expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations between 2012 and 2022. If you have the required physical stamina and want to play a critical role in the healthcare industry, this line of work could be a suitable option for you. The respective sector is expected add about 33,100 job positions between 2012 and 2022.

Is the work challenging?

Being a radiology technician is about being sensitive, empathetic and compassionate. As a radiology technician, you may have to work evening, weekends and on call. This is due to the fact that imaging is a crucial requirement in emergency situations. So if you are considering this profession, you must be prepared to work at odd or long hours.

Are there any areas of specialization?

Like other professions in the healthcare field, radiology technicians may choose to specialize in specific procedures. Some of the options include:

  • Computed Tomography (CT). This is a type of scanning that produces cross-sectional imaging of a part of the body in order to create a three-dimensional image.

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). This sort of imaging includes creating a three-dimensional image of a body part, but uses non-ionizing radio frequency.

  • Mammography. This is another area of specialty that you may choose. It uses low-dose X-ray equipment to produce images of the breast for the diagnosis and prevention of cancer.

How to become a radiology technician in Texas?

An associate’s degree is the most common educational requirement towards becoming a radiology technician in Texas, though you may opt for a 4-year long bachelor’s degree as well. After you have gained the required education, you will be required to get your license, in accordance with the Texas Department of State Health Services. You will have various licensing options in Texas – Temporary Certificate; General or Limited Certificate; Non-Certified Technicians (NCTs).

How to become a radiology technician in California?

The state of California has the largest concentration of employment for Radiologic Technologists  as per BLS, with 18,140 personnel currently working in the field at an annual mean wage of $77,650. To become an RT in California, you will need to get a 2-year long associate’s degree or a 4-year long college degree in a related field. The quickest way to get into this field, however, would be to opt for a certificate. Once you complete your educational requirements, you will need to take the California State X-Ray/Radiology Technician Examination, which can be scheduled at multiple testing centers throughout the state after graduation. You might also be required to sit for the National Certification Medical Assistant (NCMA) Examination and complete a clinical internship before being issued a certification

States with the highest employment level in this occupation:



Employment per thousand jobs

Location quotient

Hourly mean wage

Annual mean wage

California 1660 0.11 1.26 18.13 37720
Florida 1130 0.14 1.68 17.97 37370
Illinois 960 0.16 1.92 17.9 37240
Texas 760 0.07 0.78 16.62 34570
New York 650 0.07 0.85 20.12 41840


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