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Top 5 Medical Imaging Careers

In a 2000 piece, the New England Journal Medicine stated that medical imaging was one of 11 “developments that changed the face of clinical medicine” during the last millennium.

Medical imaging technician
In public health and preventive medicine as well as in curative medicine, effective decisions depend on correct diagnosis. Though medical/clinical judgment may be sufficient in treatment of many conditions, the use of diagnostic imaging services is paramount in confirming, correctly assessing and documenting course of the disease as well as in assessing response to treatment.” ~ World Health Organization

The overall demand for healthcare workers, including medical imagers, is consistently increasing. Numerous modalities have arisen or become more prevalent over the last two to three decades, including ultrasonography (US), computerized tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and position emission tomography (PET). For those thinking of entering the medical imaging field, it may be difficult to figure out which career is best.

Let’s take a look at the five major medical imaging careers detailed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); each has been projected to have faster than average growth between 2012 and 2022.(All job outlook, job opening and salary data is provided by the BLS).

Diagnostic Medical Sonographers

Diagnostic medical sonographers (also called ultrasound technicians, ultrasound technologists or ultrasonographers) perform ultrasounds for diagnostic and monitoring purposes. According to the BLS, sonograms (ultrasounds) are often “the first imaging test performed when disease is suspected”. There are numerous specialties or types of sonographers.

  • Job Outlook (2012-2022): 46.0% growth
  • Job Openings due to growth and replacement needs (2012-2022): 35,300
  • Annual Mean Wage (May 2013): $67,170
  • 16th Best Health Care Job in 2014 (U.S. News & World Report)
  • 26th of the 100 Best Jobs in 2014 (U.S. News & World Report)

Radiologic Technologists

 Radiologic Technologists use such imaging modalities as X-rays and CT scans.

  • Job Outlook (2012-2022): 20.8% growth
  • Job Openings due to growth and replacement needs (2012-2022): 69,600
  • Annual Mean Wage (May 2013): $56,760
  • 28th Best Health Care Job in 2014 (U.S. News & World Report)
  • 56th of the 100 Best Jobs in 2014 (U.S. News & World Report)

Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians

Depending on their particular position, cardiovascular technologists and technicians may perform cardiac ultrasounds (echocardiograms), assist with procedures such as cardiac catheterizations, prepare patients for heart surgery, perform EKGs, among other duties. The BLS states vascular technologists are closely related to cardiovascular techs. (The BLS groups them as diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular techs in its Occupational Handbook).

  • Job Outlook (2012-2022): 30.4% growth
  • Job Openings due to growth and replacement needs (2012-2022): 23,000
  • Annual Mean Wage (May 2013): $53,990

Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists

MRI Technologists may be described as a radiologic technologist that is specialized in magnetic resonance imaging to diagnose disease or concerns in the brain, spinal cord, heart, abdomen, joints and other areas of the body.

  • Job Outlook (2012-2022): 23.6% growth
  • Job Openings due to growth and replacement needs (2012-2022): 11,300
  • Annual Mean Wage (May 2013): $65,960

Nuclear Medicine Technologists

Nuclear medicine technologists administer patients with safe radiopharmaceuticals which allows areas of concern to be detected when scanned.

  • Job Outlook (2012-2022): 20.2% growth
  • Job Openings due to growth and replacement needs (2012-2022): 7,200
  • Annual Mean Wage (May 2013): $71,970

Other medical imaging or related career titles include vascular technologists (see cardiovascular techs above) radiation therapists, medical dosimetrists, picture archiving and communication system specialists, CT technologists (see radiologic technologists above), bone densitometry technicians, interventional cardiovascular technicians, interventional vascular technicians andPET techs.

Sources
https://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_table_102.htm
https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm

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