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Careers with a Radiology Degree

If you have ever sat in an x-ray room at some point in your life, you may have noticed the person working behind the ominous-looking machine. They may have played a crucial role in calming your nerves and preparing you for the exam, with a gentle touch, a kind word, and a warm smile. These men and women, often a part of the first-response medical team, go by many names. Some refer to them as radiologic technicians; others call them x-ray technicians, while a few address them as radiographers. Whatever you call them, these professionals perform an important job: reaching the root of an illness or injury. X-Ray Technician: The Job The primary job of an x-ray technician is to perform diagnostic imaging examinations, which include xrays, computed tomography (what we know as CT scans), magnetic resonance imaging (commonly referred to as MRI), and mammography. Considering the fact that these examinations form the basis on which serious and possibly fatal medical conditions like breast cancer, brain tumors, kidney disorders, etc. are diagnosed, the job of an x-ray technician or radiographer is extremely important for timely detection and treatment of these illnesses. As part of their job, x-ray technicians are responsible for explaining these procedures to patients, as well as preparing them for examinations by helping them into the right gear and ensuring that patients remove jewelry and other potential image obstacles. In addition, x-ray technicians must ensure they capture the best possible image, by placing patients in the right positions. They should also know how to handle the radiation equipment and understand what the best placement is for optimal image taking for a variety of conditions, as well as protect themselves and their patients from unnecessary radiation. Although clinical duties form the core of their role, radiographers also perform some administrative tasks such as maintaining patient records, preparing work schedules, and managing inventory. The radiologic technologist has a slightly advanced role that involves performing complex procedures like fluoroscopies. Radiologic technologists may also specialize in performing CT scans, MRI scans, or mammography scans. Radiologic technicians advance to this position with experience, training, and education. X-Ray Technician: The Education Most x-ray technicians have a two-year associate’s degree from a college or university. Radiology degrees are offered at both community or junior colleges and postsecondary four-year institutions. There are other available paths to this profession. Training programs are also offered at hospitals, or another alternative is to enroll for certificate courses at vocational schools. Some programs, such as an associate’s degree in medical specialties, train students to sit for limitedpermit x-ray technician certification. What this means is that you can pursue an entry-level x-ray technician job. With this permit, you are allowed to perform only specific examinations of certain body parts, as determined by the individual state’s radiology board.


You should choose a program and school depending on both your career goals and the licensure requirements of the state you plan to work in. For example, if you plan to attend an x-ray technician school in San Diego that trains you for a limited license, make sure you are aware of the stipulations laid down by the California health board. You should know what the eligibility requirements are to apply for the limited permit x-ray technician license and how that can impact your career. X-Ray Technician: The Salary The total average earnings of an x-ray technician, according to the latest data available on payscale.com, range between $26,143 and $60,738 per year depending on education, experience, and location*. Sources: * payscale.com/research/US/Job=X-Ray_Technician/Hourly_Rate


Careers with a Radiology Degree