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What does a Radiology Technician do?

Were you one of those kids who thought that X-ray vision was the greatest superpower ever? Are you obsessed with scratching beneath the surface to see what things look like on the inside? You may be the perfect candidate for a career as a radiology technician.

‘X’ Marks the Spot

Radiology technicians are a valuable part of a health care team. These medical personnel might perform diagnostic imaging tests by operating ultrasound, X-ray, mammography, CT, or MRI scan equipment, helping to gather information so that a patient can be diagnosed with an injury or ailment. Such technicians can be employed by hospitals, nursing homes, private clinics, or other health-related facilities.

A successful radiology technician will be detail-oriented, able to lift, move, and operate moderately heavy equipment, and possess a great bedside manner. Often, patients are nervous or uncomfortable, and a good radiology technician will be able to put them at ease while still getting the job done.

radiology technician

Educational Requirements

In most states, radiology technicians must be licensed and/or certified by a federal board or professional association. Some associations have minimum academic requirements in order to be eligible for certification. The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, for example, requires applicants for certain types of radiology certification to have completed at least an associates degree.

Completing a certificate or diploma in radiology-related studies can be a good way to acquire the basic knowledge and skills necessary to enter this field, but earning an associate or bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university can give you more opportunities for employment and career advancement.

While studying to become a radiology technician, you may take classes in the following subjects:

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Patient Care
  • Medical Terminology
  • Medical Terminology
  • Radiation Physics
  • Radiobiology

After Graduation

After you complete your course of study, you may wish to specialize in a certain type of radiology. Possibilities include:

  • Bone Densitometry (measuring bone density)
  • Mammography (evaluating breast tissue)
  • Radiation Therapy (administering radiation to treat diseases such as cancer)
  • Sonography (using sound waves to capture images of organs and tissue)

Salaries in this field vary, depending upon specialty, place of employment, and level of education and experience. Technicians working in a medical or diagnostic laboratory earn slightly more than those who work in a physician’s office.

What does an Ultrasound Technician do?

An Ultrasound Technician is a specialization within a larger group known as diagnostic medical sonographers. Sometimes known as ultrasound technologists, these professionals operate ultrasound equipment, which uses high frequency sound waves echoing off of parts of a patient’s body in order to obtain information on healthy and unhealthy internal conditions.

An ultrasound technician can work in a variety of fields, including the following:

  • Obstetrics and gynecology: These sonographers specialize in the female reproductive system. The most well-known area of sonography, ultrasounds are administered on pregnant mothers to monitor the health of her unborn baby.
  • Breast sonography: These professionals may work with mammogram technicians in order to detect and study diseases in the breasts, such as breast cancer.
  • Neurosonography: Ultrasound technicians who focus on neurology use sonography on the various parts of the nervous system, including the brain.
  • Abdominal sonography: These professionals specialize in the abdominal cavity and administer ultrasounds on areas such as the kidneys, liver, gallbladder, pancreas and male reproductive system.

ultrasound technician

Educational requirements

While an advanced degree is not always required, it is usually preferred for an ultrasound technician. However, there are several methods of entering the field of sonography. These include:

  • Formal education: There are hundreds of programs available to students who would like to receive an education in sonography. Students of 2-year college programs will typically graduate with an associate degree, and those in a 4-year program at a university will graduate with a bachelor’s degree.
  • Certificate Programs: There are also 1-year vocational programs which are usually pursued by uncertified technicians already working in the field who wish to add formal education to their resumes.
  • Medical industry training: Employers may also prefer ultrasound technicians who have had experience in the healthcare industry or in the Armed Forces, even if they don’t have a formal education.

Job outlook

Opportunities for employment and growth in the sonography field are “favorable,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also says that sonography will continue to be an “increasingly attractive alternative” to radiology, with sonography increasingly replacing procedures such as X-rays whenever possible.

59 percent of ultrasound technicians work in hospitals. The others may work in doctors’ offices, clinics, diagnostic laboratories or they may freelance, traveling to wherever they are needed.

Communities such as the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine, in which students and professionals can network and share information about their field, are also available for support to prospective and current ultrasound technicians.

Salary earning potential

Ultrasound technicians can set themselves apart and increase their earning potential with credentials such as their years of experience, a certificate from a vocational program, an associate or bachelor’s degree from an accredited program, or by becoming registered in the field of sonography.

What does an X-ray Technician do?

Have you ever wished you had the ability to see right through people? Ever wanted the super power of x-ray vision? X-ray technician (often called radiographers) might be the job for you. You can be in charge of diagnostic imaging examinations, which include x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography, and mammography. As a technician, your primary responsibility is most likely to prepare patients for the exam, making sure that minimal radiation exposure is present.

Job requirements for x-ray technicians

The key requirements to succeed in this field are simple: follow instructions and safety protocol. This includes following physicians’ orders precisely and making sure to conform to regulations concerning the use of radiation for the protection of patients, coworkers and yourself. You may also be responsible for preparing operating equipment for each procedure, as well as maintain that equipment, keep patient records and follow HIPPA standards. In addition, you can assume more responsibility and complete tasks such as complex imaging, like viewing the soft tissue in the body.

x-ray technician

Training to become an x-ray technician

Your new special skills of x-ray vision can be acquired in as little as 21-24 months. The minimum educational requirement asked by most employers is a certificate. There are also associate degrees and bachelor’s degress available in the field. They take more time to obtain, but can lead to career and salary advancements with additional work experience. After completing the training program that best suits you, you will likely have to obtain licensure since most states require all x-ray technicians to be licensed.

See through your career

As an x-ray technician, you can choose from multiple career paths. Depending on which is more important to you, money or work hours, you can be a tech in a regular doctor’s office with weekday hours, which pays slightly less than the average for professionals in this field, or you can chose to work in a medical or diagnostic lab or a federal executive branch, which generally pays more than the national average for this profession.

Choosing to become a specialist in a certain field, performing more advanced scans such as CTs, MRIs, mammography, or bone densitometry, may improve your employment opportunities. You can also seek further education in order to advance your career as a radiologic assistant. With enough experience in the field you could advance to supervisor over a radiology department, or to Chief radiologic technician. You could also become a department administrator or director.