Occupation Profile for Radiologic Technologists

Take x-rays and Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT or CT) scans or administer nonradioactive materials into patient's blood stream for diagnostic purposes. Includes technologists who specialize in other modalities, such as computed tomography, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance.

 
 

Significant Points

  • Employment is projected to grow faster than average, and job opportunities are expected to be favorable.
  • Formal training programs in radiography are offered in hospitals, colleges and universities, and less frequently at vocational-technical institutes; range in length from 1 to 4 years; and lead to a certificate, an associate degree, or a bachelor’s degree.
  • Although hospitals will remain the primary employer, a number of new jobs will be found in physicians’ offices and diagnostic imaging centers.

 

 
 
Sample Job Titles
Cat Scanner Operator
CT Scan Technologist (Computed Tomography Scan Technologist)
CT/MRI Technologist (Computed Tomography/Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologist)
EEG Technician (Electroencephalographic Technician)
Electroneurodiagnostic Technician (ENDT)
Electroneurodiagnostic Technologist (END Technologist)
Imaging Specialist
Magnetic Resonance Imaging Special Procedures Technologist (MRI Special Procedures Technologist)
Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technician (MRI Technician)
Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologist (MRI Technologist)
Mammographer
Picture Archiving and Communication Systems Administrator (PACS Administrator)
Radiation Therapist
Radiographer Technologist
Radiologic Technologist
Radiologic Technologist, Registered (RT(R))
Radiological Technologist
Radiology Technologist
Radiology Therapist
Special Procedures Technologist, Angiogram
Special Procedures Technologist, Ct Scan
Staff Radiographer
Staff Radiologist
Staff Technologist
Staff Technologists
Ultrasound Technologist
X-Ray Technologist

Training
  • These occupations usually involve using communication and organizational skills to coordinate, supervise, manage, or train others to accomplish goals. Examples include funeral directors, electricians, forest and conservation technicians, legal secretaries, interviewers, and insurance sales agents.
  • Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree. Some may require a bachelor's degree.
  • Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.
  • Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers.

Preparation for this profession is offered in hospitals, colleges and universities, and less frequently at vocational-technical institutes. Hospitals employ most radiologic technologists. Employers prefer to hire technologists with formal training.

Education and training. Formal training programs in radiography range in length from 1 to 4 years and lead to a certificate, an associate degree, or a bachelor’s degree. Two-year associate degree programs are most prevalent.

Some 1-year certificate programs are available for experienced radiographers or individuals from other health occupations, such as medical technologists and registered nurses, who want to change fields. A bachelor’s or master’s degree in one of the radiologic technologies is desirable for supervisory, administrative, or teaching positions.

The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology accredits most formal training programs for the field. The committee accredited more than 600 radiography programs in 2007. Admission to radiography programs require, at a minimum, a high school diploma or the equivalent. High school courses in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology are helpful. The programs provide both classroom and clinical instruction in anatomy and physiology, patient care procedures, radiation physics, radiation protection, principles of imaging, medical terminology, positioning of patients, medical ethics, radiobiology, and pathology.

Licensure. Federal legislation protects the public from the hazards of unnecessary exposure to medical and dental radiation by ensuring that operators of radiologic equipment are properly trained. Under this legislation, the Federal Government sets voluntary standards that the States may use for accrediting training programs and licensing individuals who engage in medical or dental radiography. In 2007, 40 states required licensure for practicing radiologic technologists and technicians.

Certification and other qualifications. The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) offers voluntary certification for radiologic technologists. In addition, 35 States use ARRT-administered exams for State licensing purposes. To be eligible for certification, technologists generally must graduate from an accredited program and pass an examination. Many employers prefer to hire certified radiographers. To be recertified, radiographers must complete 24 hours of continuing education every 2 years.

Radiologic technologists should be sensitive to patients’ physical and psychological needs. They must pay attention to detail, follow instructions, and work as part of a team. In addition, operating complicated equipment requires mechanical ability and manual dexterity.

Advancement. With experience and additional training, staff technologists may become specialists, performing CT scanning, MR, and angiography, a procedure during which blood vessels are x rayed to find clots. Technologists also may advance, with additional education and certification, to become a radiologist assistant.

Experienced technologists also may be promoted to supervisor, chief radiologic technologist, and, ultimately, department administrator or director. Depending on the institution, courses or a master’s degree in business or health administration may be necessary for the director’s position.

Some technologists progress by specializing in the occupation to become instructors or directors in radiologic technology programs; others take jobs as sales representatives or instructors with equipment manufacturers.

Nature of Work

Radiologic technologists take x rays and administer nonradioactive materials into patients’ bloodstreams for diagnostic purposes.

Radiologic technologists also referred to as radiographers, produce x-ray films (radiographs) of parts of the human body for use in diagnosing medical problems. They prepare patients for radiologic examinations by explaining the procedure, removing jewelry and other articles through which x rays cannot pass, and positioning patients so that the parts of the body can be appropriately radiographed. To prevent unnecessary exposure to radiation, these workers surround the exposed area with radiation protection devices, such as lead shields, or limit the size of the x-ray beam. Radiographers position radiographic equipment at the correct angle and height over the appropriate area of a patient’s body. Using instruments similar to a measuring tape, they may measure the thickness of the section to be radiographed and set controls on the x-ray machine to produce radiographs of the appropriate density, detail, and contrast. They place the x-ray film under the part of the patient’s body to be examined and make the exposure. They then remove the film and develop it.

Radiologic technologists must follow physicians’ orders precisely and conform to regulations concerning the use of radiation to protect themselves, their patients, and their coworkers from unnecessary exposure.

In addition to preparing patients and operating equipment, radiologic technologists keep patient records and adjust and maintain equipment. They also may prepare work schedules, evaluate purchases of equipment, or manage a radiology department.

Experienced radiographers may perform more complex imaging procedures. When performing fluoroscopies, for example, radiographers prepare a solution of contrast medium for the patient to drink, allowing the radiologist (a physician who interprets radiographs) to see soft tissues in the body.

Some radiographers specialize in computed tomography (CT), and are sometimes referred to as CT technologists. CT scans produce a substantial amount of cross-sectional x rays of an area of the body. From those cross-sectional x rays, a three-dimensional image is made. The CT uses ionizing radiation; therefore, it requires the same precautionary measures that radiographers use with other x rays.

Radiographers also can specialize in Magnetic Resonance Imaging as an MR technologist. MR, like CT, produces multiple cross-sectional images to create a 3-dimensional image. Unlike CT, MR uses non-ionizing radio frequency to generate image contrast.

Another common specialty for radiographers specialize in is mammography. Mammographers use low dose x-ray systems to produce images of the breast.

In addition to radiologic technologists, others who conduct diagnostic imaging procedures include cardiovascular technologists and technicians, diagnostic medical sonographers, and nuclear medicine technologists. (Each is discussed elsewhere in the Handbook.)

Work environment. Physical stamina is important in this occupation because technologists are on their feet for long periods and may lift or turn disabled patients. Technologists work at diagnostic machines but also may perform some procedures at patients’ bedsides. Some travel to patients in large vans equipped with sophisticated diagnostic equipment.

Although radiation hazards exist in this occupation, they are minimized by the use of lead aprons, gloves, and other shielding devices, as well as by instruments monitoring exposure to radiation. Technologists wear badges measuring radiation levels in the radiation area, and detailed records are kept on their cumulative lifetime dose.

Most full-time radiologic technologists work about 40 hours a week. They may, however, have evening, weekend, or on-call hours. Opportunities for part-time and shift work also are available.

Related Occupations

Sources: Career Guide to Industries (CGI), Occupational Information Network (O*Net), Occupation Outlook Handbook (OOH)
Earnings

Median annual earnings of radiologic technologists were $48,170 in May 2006. The middle 50 percent earned between $39,840 and $57,940. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,750, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $68,920. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of radiologic technologists in 2006 were:

Medical and diagnostic laboratories $51,280
General medical and surgical hospitals 48,830
Offices of physicians 45,500

For the latest wage information:

The above wage data are from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey program, unless otherwise noted. For the latest National, State, and local earnings data, visit the following pages:

  • Radiologic technologists and technicians
  • Job Outlook

    Employment is projected to grow faster than average, and job opportunities are expected to be favorable.

    Employment change. Employment of radiologic technologists is expected to increase by about 15 percent from 2006 to 2016, faster than the average for all occupations. As the population grows and ages, there will be an increasing demand for diagnostic imaging. Although health care providers are enthusiastic about the clinical benefits of new technologies, the extent to which they are adopted depends largely on cost and reimbursement considerations. As technology advances many imaging modalities are becoming less expensive and their adoption is becoming more widespread. For example, digital imaging technology can improve the quality of the images and the efficiency of the procedure, but it remains slightly more expensive than analog imaging, a procedure during which the image is put directly on film. Despite this, digital imaging is becoming more widespread in many imaging facilities because of the advantages it provides over analog.

    Although hospitals will remain the principal employer of radiologic technologists, a number of new jobs will be found in offices of physicians and diagnostic imaging centers. Health facilities such as these are expected to grow through 2016, because of the shift toward outpatient care, encouraged by third-party payers and made possible by technological advances that permit more procedures to be performed outside the hospital.

    Job prospects. In addition to job growth, job openings also will arise from the need to replace technologists who leave the occupation. Radiologic technologists are willing to relocate and who also are experienced in more than one diagnostic imaging procedure—such as CT, MR, and mammography—will have the best employment opportunities as employers seek to control costs by using multi-credentialed employees.

    CT is becoming a frontline diagnosis tool. Instead of taking x rays to decide whether a CT is needed, as was the practice before, it is often the first choice for imaging because of its accuracy. MR also is increasing in frequency of use. Technologists with credentialing in either of these specialties will be very marketable to employers.

    Employment

    Radiologic technologists held about 196,000 jobs in 2006. More than 60 percent of all jobs were in hospitals. Most other jobs were in offices of physicians; medical and diagnostic laboratories, including diagnostic imaging centers; and outpatient care centers.

    Knowledge
    • Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
    • Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
    • Sales and Marketing — Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
    • Medicine and Dentistry — Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
    • Physics — Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
    Skills
    • Equipment Maintenance — Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
    • Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
    • Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
    • Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
    • Troubleshooting — Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
    Abilities
    • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
    • Stamina — The ability to exert yourself physically over long periods of time without getting winded or out of breath.
    • Explosive Strength — The ability to use short bursts of muscle force to propel oneself (as in jumping or sprinting), or to throw an object.
    • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
    • Hearing Sensitivity — The ability to detect or tell the differences between sounds that vary in pitch and loudness.
    Tasks
    • Core — Key commands and data into computer to document and specify scan sequences, adjust transmitters and receivers, or photograph certain images.
    • Supplemental — Measure thickness of section to be radiographed, using instruments similar to measuring tapes.
    • Supplemental — Monitor video display of area being scanned and adjust density or contrast to improve picture quality.
    • Supplemental — Operate fluoroscope to aid physician to view and guide wire or catheter through blood vessels to area of interest.
    • Core — Monitor patients' conditions and reactions, reporting abnormal signs to physician.
    Activities
    • Monitoring and Controlling Resources — Monitoring and controlling resources and overseeing the spending of money.
    • Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
    • Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
    • Repairing and Maintaining Electronic Equipment — Servicing, repairing, calibrating, regulating, fine-tuning, or testing machines, devices, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of electrical or electronic (not mechanical) principles.
    • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
    Related College Curriculum
     
    Featured Online Colleges
     
    For more online colleges, click here.
     
    Colleges Offering Curriculum

    535 Radiologic Technologist Jobs Found


    AtSaint Alphonsus Health System, we are looking for people who are living outtheir calling. We want you to be passionate about coming to work, andc...
    Saint Alphonsus Health System - OR - Ontario - posted 26 days ago
    At Saint Alphonsus Health System, we are looking forpeople who are living out their calling. We want you to be passionate aboutcoming to work, and ...
    Saint Alphonsus Health System - ID - Boise - posted 26 days ago
    For more than 28 years, ForTec Medical has mobilized surgical technologies - including the broadest array of lasers - to hospitals, surgery centers...
    ForTec Medical, Inc. - FL - Orlando - posted 10 days ago
    Full-time Radiologic Technologist position in multi-modality department This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
    Madison Regional Health System - SD - Madison - posted 10 days ago
    We invite you to come join our Valley Radiology teamas a Radiologic Technologist. This full-time career opportunity has a Monday - Friday dayshift ...
    RadNet Management Inc. - CA - San Jose - posted 4 days ago
    We invite you to come join our NorCal Imaging teamas a Radiologic Technologist. This full-time career opportunity has a Monday - Friday 9:00am-5:30...
    RadNet Management Inc. - CA - Oakland - posted about 1 month ago
    We invite you to come join our Valley Radiology-Ciro teamas a Radiologic Technologist. This full-time career opportunity has a Monday - Friday days...
    RadNet Management Inc. - CA - San Jose - posted about 1 month ago
    Radiologic Technologist for Outpatient Surgery Centers Imaging company looking for Radiologic Technologists to work in Outpatient Surgery Centers a...
    - San Francisco Bay Area - posted 4 days ago
    Radiologic Technologist for Outpatient Surgery Centers Imaging company looking for Radiologic Technologists to work in Outpatient Surgery Centers a...
    - San Francisco Bay Area - posted 4 days ago
    Certified/LicensedMedical Radiological Technologist who can perform prescribed procedures forinpatients and outpatients. Performsother related duti...
    Cumberland Surgical Hospital - TX - San Antonio - posted about 1 month ago

    More Radiologic Technologist Job Results...
     
     
     
     
     

    JOB SEARCH