Learn How to Become a Radiology Tech in 2021
Radiology technicians and technologists work closely with physicians and radiologists to perform medical imaging tests on patients. Depending on the specialization, these tests can include x-rays, MRI’s, computerized tomography (CT) scans, and ultrasounds. These tests help doctors diagnose and treat injuries and disease.
Radiology technologists make up the 3rd largest segment of healthcare providers. The job outlook is very promising, with an increase of 7% expected by 2029. All salary and employment figures are based on a national average and may vary by location. Attend one of the radiology tech schools near you to get started in this growing field.
How to Become a Radiology Technician
The majority of radiology techs hold an Associate of Science degree, which typically requires two years of full-time course work, though program completion times may vary. Bachelor’s degree programs for radiology technicians are also available to those who wish to specialize or move up in to management.
It is important to attend a radiology tech program that has been certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) or the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JCERT). This lets you know that you’ll be receiving a quality education from an institution that has been evaluated by an outside agency.
Radiologic Technologist Certification
The licensing boards of most states require that radiologic technicians be licensed and certified. If you live in a state that does not require such certification, you’ll find that it’s most likely going to be required by potential employers, so it’s an important step to take.
To become certified, you must first graduate from an accredited program. You must then obtain certification from the ARRT, or pass a test administered by the state licensing board. (Contact your state’s health board to find out its specific licensure requirements). The ARRT offers certification in five areas as part of the primary pathway of qualifications. These include:
- Radiation Therapy
- Nuclear Medicine Technology
- Various Post-Primary Credentials
To be eligible to write the ARRT’s certification exam(s), you must have completed an accredited educational program in a relevant field within the last five years. When selecting a radiology school, make sure it is accredited by the JCERT and/or ARRT and that its didactic and clinical components meet the ARRT’s core competencies.
Maintain Certification with CME’s
Once you are certified, one of the requirements for maintaining your credential is to pursue Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits. Certifying agencies will require it, and it’s good for your career. The ARRT offers professional development courses, as do several other organizations. As you further specialize and work on advancing your career, you can pursue post-primary certification through the ARRT in areas such as CT, MRI, bone density, mammography and other specialties.
Radiology Technician Degrees
The majority of radiology techs hold an associate’s in science (AAS) degree. In an associate’s degree program, which requires two years of full-time academic study (part time attendance will take longer), you can expect a combination of classroom learning and lab activities. Program completion times may vary depending on specific program requirements. Coursework typically consists of classes such as the following:
- GRE’s such as english and writing composition
- Radiologic science
- Radiation protection
- Image analysis
- Imaging equipment
- Clinical coursework
Bachelor’s Degree in Radiologic Technology
Bachelor’s programs are typically 4 year programs. Some radiology tech schools offer 12-month bachelor’s degree programs to credentialed imaging practitioners who wish to further their education. Additionally, many bachelor’s degrees can be pursued partially or entirely online. Students who wish to pursue their education online need to have access to a full service radiology lab to complete the clinical portions of their education and receive clinical externship credit.
Bachelor degree holders have further opportunity to specialize or manage staff. Advanced coursework includes:
- Advanced modalities of CT, MRI, Cardiovascular Interventional Technology, and/or Mammorgraphy
- Sectional Anatomy
- The Effective Radiology Supervisor
- Advanced Patient Assessments and Treatments
Radiologic Technician Salary
Nation wide, radiologic technicians earned a median annual salary of $63,710 per year in 2020. Those with advanced degrees and experience who are in the 90th percentile of wage earners can earn upwards of $100,000. Entry level techs can expect to earn up to $42,000. Salary and employment figures are based on a national average and may vary by location.
Where you work has an effect on your salary, with those working for the federal government and at outpatient care centers earning the most. Radiology technician jobs are expected to grow by 7%, adding 14,000 jobs to the workforce by 2029.
Highest Paying States for Radiology Techs
|State||2020 Mean Annual Salary|
|District of Columbia||$82,270|