What Does a Radiologic Technologist Do?
Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More
Radiologic technologists use diagnostic imaging equipment to help physicians identify illnesses and injuries. They might use x-ray equipment, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, or mammography to perform X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, or mammograms.
Radiologic Technologist Duties & Responsibilities
Radiological technologists can specialize in one type of diagnostic imaging technology or in several. They're often referred to by a title that reflects the technology in which they specialize. For example, a radiologic technologist who specializes in computed tomography is usually called a CT Technician. Some job duties and responsibilities are common among them:
- Follow physicians' orders regarding the areas of the body of which images are needed
- Operate and adjust imaging equipment
- Explain procedures to patients
- Position patients and equipment
- Follow procedures that prevent unnecessary exposure to radiation to themselves, as well as to the patient
- Keep track of and organize patients' records
Radiologic Technologist Salary
The highest paid radiologic technologists worked for the federal government in 2018, earning an average median salary in this particular sector of $65,230, about $31.36 an hour. This is more than the median salary for all radiologic technologists in general.
- Median Annual Salary: $59,520 ($28.62/hour)
- Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $86,350 ($41.51/hour)
- Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $40,630 ($19.53/hour)
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019
Education, Training & Certification
You must complete a formal training program in radiography to work in this profession, and other education can be required as well.
- Education: Most people entering this occupation have earned an associate degree, but you can also become a radiologic technologist with a certificate or a bachelor's degree. Earning an associate's degree generally takes about two years. Programs consist of a combination of classroom and clinical training. Radiography students take courses in pathology, anatomy, radiation physics and protection, image evaluation, and patient care. The educational requirements to become a radiologic technologist are comparable to the requirement to become a registered nurse.
- Licensure: Most states require licensure for radiologic technologists. You generally must have graduated from a program that has been accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology, and you'll probably have to take a written examination.
Radiologic Technologist Skills & Competencies
You'll need soft skills to succeed in this occupation.
- Communication skills: You must be able to accurately and compassionately explain to patients what they're about to experience. You'll also have to be able to succinctly convey information to physicians and staff.
- Patience and empathy: Your patients are likely to be stressed, uncomfortable, frightened, and not on their best behavior.
- Physical stamina: You'll spend a good many hours on your feet, and you might have to physically assist patients in a number of circumstances.
- Mathematical ability: You should be detail-oriented, and should be good at science and math.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment in this field will grow 12 percent through 2026, which is faster than the overall employment growth of 7 percent for all occupations in the country.
The majority of radiological technicians work in hospitals, but many others worked in doctors' offices, medical and diagnostic laboratories, and outpatient facilities.
Radiologic technologists are at risk for contracting illnesses from their patients, but no more so than other healthcare professionals. Exposure to radiation is another risk, but the protections that are in place, such as lead gloves and aprons, decrease its likelihood. Radiologic technologists are generally monitored for lifetime exposure by wearing registering badges during all working hours.
Jobs in this field are usually full-time positions, but emergencies can happen around the clock. Those who are responsible for handling them must sometimes work odd hours, including weekends, evenings, and holidays.
How to Get the Job
Those certified in more than one diagnostic imaging procedure will have the best opportunities. Having multiple certifications can increase your job prospects, as can graduating from an accredited program.
PIN DOWN YOUR STATE'S REQUIREMENTS
You can use the Licensed Occupation Tool to learn about your state's licensing requirements. They can vary somewhat by state.
Comparing Similar Jobs
Those interested in entering this field might also consider the following careers:
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019