In terms of job security, it is hard to find a better job option than the medical field. The medical field is considered a safe option because there are always patients in need of treatment. Another benefit of working in the medical field is how many jobs are available. While doctors and nurses are some of the most common medical fields, there are other professions to choose from which do not require as much training.
One of the careers expected to grow is radiology technician. In 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted the demand for radiology technicians was expected to grow by 7 percent up until 2029. More information about how to pursue a career in radiology is detailed below.
What is a radiologist technician?
Radiologist technicians are responsible for performing diagnostic imaging on patients. While the majority of radiologist technicians work in hospitals, there are other healthcare industries, such as medical clinics and diagnostic imaging centers which also employ radiologist technicians. The majority of technicians work 40-hour weeks, though certain clinics and imaging centers may only hire a technician on a part time basis.
There are multiple types of diagnostic imaging radiologist technicians are responsible for. The most common ones are X-ray examinations, computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and sonographs. In most cases, technicians work directly alongside either a doctor or radiologist.
In addition to performing scans, the technician also helps review a patient’s medical history. They also work directly alongside patients to prepare them for the procedure, explaining how it will work and making sure all jewelry and metal items are removed from the patient. Technicians are also responsible for maintaining patient records after a scan. This mostly consists of organizing images and making sure all the scans were properly recorded. Finally, radiologist technicians must clean and sterilize their equipment after a procedure.
There are multiple education requirements for radiology technicians. Firstly, you must have either graduated from high school or have a GED. This is necessary so you can enroll in a radiography program in college. At a minimum, you are required to have a two-year associate’s degree in radiography. In some medical facilities, you must have a four-year bachelor’s degree. Whichever degree you get, your courses must have been accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT).
These classes focus on multiple areas, such as patient care, human anatomy, radiographic pathology and how to use clinical equipment. The classroom portions of a radiology degree can be completed online, but most classes require you to attend in-person training to physically use scanning equipment before you graduate.
Once you receive your degree, the next step is to get certified. The exact eligibility requirements change depending on your state, but at a minimum, you are required to complete a certification course from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). To maintain your certification, you must complete an ARRT certification course every two years, in addition to whatever requirements are set by your state.
What skills are important for a radiologist technician?
Becoming a radiologist technician may not be as complicated as some medical paths, but there are still a number of important skills necessary for the job. Having technological skills is important as a radiologist technician. You must be able to use and maintain multiple pieces of equipment. Medical equipment is often advancing faster than other pieces of technology, so you must be willing to keep learning even after getting your job.
Sensitometry, the study of photographic film, also plays an important role in radiography. Technicians must know how to use sensitometers, which measure and evaluate radiation. Not only is this important for safety, but technicians use sensitometers to develop clearer images during an X-ray procedure.
Having some medical knowledge, mostly relating to anatomy, is helpful for radiologist technicians. You do not need an advanced medical degree, but understanding general medicine and having some clinical knowledge makes it easier to communicate with doctors.
Another useful skill for radiologist technicians is critical thinking. There is no default position to get the best results from a scan. Technicians must consider the needs of each patient to find the right positioning to get the desired results. While this may seem easy at first, it becomes much harder when you consider the number of possible medical conditions which interfere with getting a clear scan. Because of this, communication is also an important skill. You must be able to clearly explain what you need from your patients. You are also expected to have a good bedside manner, putting both patients and worried family members at ease during an examination.
Career Advancement for a Radiologist Technician
There is a great deal of career advancement for radiologist technician. Even without branching into other career paths, you can expect your salary to increase over time. As of 2020, the average salary for a radiologist technician is $27 an hour, but more experienced technicians can make as much as $50 an hour.
Many technicians go on to specialize in a unique type of scanning. Some examples include mammography and angiography. If you want to stay in a generalized field, you can focus more on management, becoming the chief radiologic technologist for your facility. If you enjoy working with others and teaching, you can transition into being a radiologist instructor.