Important Job Skills for Radiologic Technologists

A radiologic technologist conducting an MRI
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radiologic technologist is a healthcare worker who specializes in imaging tests like X-ray, MRI, and CT scans, performed primarily in diagnostic capacities. Some radiologic technologists will specialize in certain disciplines related to specific areas of the body, such as mammography, for example.

What Skills Does a Radiologic Technologist Need?

Radiologic technologists will have close working relationships with the radiologists who interpret the images. In order for doctors to be able to do their jobs, the technician has to be thorough and accurate in their imaging technique.

They’ll also be responsible for keeping patients as comfortable as possible during their tests, which can sometimes be frightening and stressful for those undergoing them. Radiologic technologists can steadily increase their income over time by developing specialties and by acquiring more experience. 

Types of Radiologic Technologist Skills 

Here’s a list of the most important skills employers look for in a radiologic technologist.

Medical and Anatomical Skills

Along with learning about the technology and equipment required to be successful, a radiologic technologist will also learn a good deal about examination methods, human anatomy, safety around radiation protection, and more about the basics of caring for patients.

A successful radiologic technologist will be comfortable with the human body and interacting physically with patients and confident in their ability to position patients accurately on the table in order to use radiation as safely as possible. 

  • Applying radio-opaque contrast media solutions
  • Assessing bone density
  • Assessing vital signs
  • Basic life support (BLS)
  • Computerized tomography
  • Cystograms
  • Developing radiographic images
  • Fluoroscopy
  • Hysterosalpingogram procedures
  • Interpreting clinical information about patients
  • Knowledge of anatomy and physiology
  • Operating picture archiving and communications system (PACS) 
  • Performing magnetic resonance procedures
  • Performing venipuncture for contrast injections
  • Positioning patients
  • Practicing sterile techniques
  • Retrograde urethragrams
  • Reviewing images for quality
  • Strictly following radiology safety protocols
  • Taking X-rays of various body parts

Communication Skills

As a radiologic technologist, you’ll be responsible for several layers of communication with both patients and colleagues. Because there’s not any single or specific type of person who might need health-related imaging, you’ll be interacting with a broad and diverse crosssection of the population.

You’ll be required to explain procedures to patients. Because you’ll be encountering all sorts of patients, you’ll need to have an agile communication style so that you can communicate effectively with anyone who crosses your lab or table.

Another critical part of the job is understanding that patients might be anxious or scared. For some, they could be enduring the most frightening possible prospect. They could be seeing you on the worst day of their life. It won’t always be so dire, but even under the best circumstances, medical diagnostic imaging is typically uncomfortable, awkward, or inconvenient for the patient.

You’ll be on the front line, standing between the patient and the answers they seek. You’ll have to manage stress (theirs, as well as your own), express compassion, and remain calm when patients become agitated or upset –– all while doing your job well.

  • Comforting distressed patients
  • Compassion for patients
  • Consulting with physicians
  • Explaining procedures to patients
  • Orienting new staff
  • Remaining calm with agitated patients
  • Actively listening to patient concerns
  • Documenting procedures
  • Conveying patient concerns to nursing staff
  • Tailoring communication to different age groups
  • Deciphering nonverbal cues from patients regarding pain
  • Training student staff
  • Social perceptiveness

Mechanical Aptitude

In order to calibrate and maintain radiology equipment, a radiologic technologist will have to be comfortable with their technology and gear. Each machine’s model will be different, and as a result, learning and relearning new technology will be part of the job. A technologist will also have to understand how to adjust radiation exposure time and intensity.

These factors impact the health of the patient and maximize image quality. Most training courses will provide guidelines and instructions using the equipment. However, it will be up to the technologist to expand their knowledge and master the art of handling their medical imaging equipment. 

  • Diagnosing equipment problems
  • Repairing malfunctioning equipment
  • Calibrating and maintaining radiology equipment
  • Mechanical aptitude
  • Evaluating new equipment and technology
  • Problem solving

More Radiologic Technologist Skills

  • Analytical
  • Attention to detail
  • Critical thinking
  • Customer service
  • Flexibility
  • High energy
  • Identifying and responding to emergency situations
  • Interacting effectively with a diverse clientele
  • Maintaining patient confidentiality
  • Manual dexterity
  • Mathematics 
  • Multitasking
  • Ongoing learning
  • Ordering supplies
  • Organizational
  • Precision 
  • Prioritizing workflow
  • Punctuality
  • Reliability
  • Resolving scheduling problems
  • Spanish
  • Stress management
  • Teamwork
  • Timely and accurate documentation of patient contacts
  • Time management
  • Transporting patients
  • Verbal communication
  • Working independently 
  • Working quickly and accurately
  • Writing

How to Make Your Radiologic Technology Skills Stand Out

Use Action Words in Your Resume

  • Construct your resume with action words that correspond to the skills in this list, especially those key skills that are highlighted in the job description for your target position.
  • Lead your phrases with skill words like “resolved problems with scheduling, calculated equipment settings, and comforted agitated patients.”
  • List your statements in order of relevancy to the priority qualifications of your target job.
  • Include resume statements that demonstrate impact and results produced. Lead with words like increased, enhanced, revamped, and improved that point to value added.

Use quantitative terms whenever possible to demonstrate the magnitude of results generated.

For example, “reduced equipment failures by 15% by instituting an aggressive maintenance schedule.”

Share Your Skills in Your Cover Letter

Incorporate statements into your cover letter regarding key patient care and diagnostic skills that you have applied in various roles with emphasis on skills that have led to successes and problems solved.

Make sure you touch on the requirements that employers have emphasized in their job advertisements.

Be Prepared to Discuss Your Skills in Your Interviews 

Prepare for interviews by making a list of the core skills that best equip you to excel in your target job:

  • Think of examples and short stories of how you have applied these skills to generate positive results in the past.
  • Describe the situations you were confronted with, the actions you took (emphasizing skills applied), and the results of your interventions.

Article Sources

  1. Occupational Outlook Handbook. "What Radiologic and MRI Technologists Do." Accessed Feb. 8, 2020.

  2. O*NET. "Radiologic Technologists." Accessed Feb. 8, 2020.

  3. Occupational Outlook Handbook. "How to Become a Radiologic or MRI Technologist." Accessed Feb. 8, 2020.