Whether conducting an ultrasound for first-time parents or performing a radiologic test to help doctors detect cancer cells to create a lifesaving treatment plan, radiologic technologists play an irreplaceable role in patient care. Most work in hospitals and provide the imaging data physicians need to make critical healthcare decisions. Radiology techs need to know advanced medical terminology and be able to interact with patients to provide top-notch medical care using state-of-the-art equipment.
You can become a radiology tech in just two years and potentially earn $62,000 or more in this in-demand career. Continue reading to learn more about the educational and licensure requirements necessary for entering this fulfilling profession. Additionally, you’ll find self-assessment questions to help determine if this career aligns with your interests and aspirations, as well as guidance on seeking employment opportunities after graduation.
Are You a Good Match for a Career as a Radiology Tech?
Before starting a radiology tech program, it’s important to assess if becoming a radiologic tech is the right move for you. Make sure this career aligns with your interests and skills by understanding the job duties and educational and professional commitments involved. You’ll also want to make sure the daily tasks align with your interests, so you’ll find fulfillment in the job. Ask yourself these questions to help determine if becoming a rad tech is the right career choice.
If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, a career as a radiologic technologist may be a good choice.
Earn an Undergrad Degree from an ARRT-Approved School
You’ll need to decide if an associate degree or bachelor’s degree is your best option and if you want to earn your degree completely on-campus or through a partially online degree program. Whatever your choice, the program you attend must be approved by the ARRT. You should also consider schools accredited by JCERT, which signals that a school’s curriculum meets high standards that include educational innovation, quality and integrity. While JCERT accreditation isn’t required for a school to be approved by ARRT, all JCERT programs are AART approved.
Pass the ARRT Exam and Get Certified/Licensed
After graduating from a radiology tech program, you’ll need to become certified and/or licensed in your state before practicing. Individual states set guidelines for the certification/licensure process, so it’s crucial to review the requirements from your state board to understand what’s expected of you. Steps typically required include the following:
Make Your Resume Shine and Prep for Interviews
Now that you’re ready to start working as a rad tech, take time to optimize your resume and prepare for interviews. The following tips and tricks can help you maximize your chances of landing your dream rad tech job.
How to Make a Standout Rad Tech Resume
Rad Tech Interview Dos and Don’ts
Consider Becoming Certified in a Specialty Area of Radiology
After working in the discipline for a few years, you may decide to complete one of the many post-primary certifications provided by the ARRT. These currently include:
An additional certification helps you build new skills and competencies within radiography. You also increase your knowledge and skillsets within an area of interest, improve your job prospects, and potentially earn a higher salary.
FAQs About Becoming a Radiology Tech
What do radiologic technologists do?
Radiologic technologists perform a variety of important duties throughout their workdays, both for their patients and other healthcare providers. They use various imaging methods, such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to produce medical images. Their primary responsibility is to assist physicians in diagnosing and treating patients by capturing high-quality images of the body’s internal structures. They prepare patients for imaging procedures, explain the process, and ensure patient safety by following radiation protection guidelines. They also maintain and operate imaging equipment, adjust settings to optimize image quality, and collaborate with physicians to analyze the images for abnormalities or issues. They need to work well under pressure and be able to accept feedback. They play an important part in patient care and diagnosis.
How much do radiology techs make?
Radiology techs, especially those with a few years of experience, can earn salaries above the national average for all occupations. In fact, the BLS indicates that median wage was $65,140 per year as of May 2022. Those just starting their careers may earn less, but rad techs in the top 10 percent of earners make close to six figures annually.
Factors like education and experience levels, where you live, and where you work affect pay. Rad techs who take part in continuing education training often command higher salaries than their counterparts.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020
Are radiologic technologists in high demand?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that rad tech jobs will grow by 6 percent between 2021-2031, leading to the creation of nearly 17,000 new positions. With the baby boomer population – one of the largest in recent generations – growing older, more radiologic technologists are needed to conduct diagnostic tests for issues like Alzheimer’s, cancer, and other illnesses. In addition, about 16,600 existing jobs will re-open each year due to career changes and retirement.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
How long does it take to become a radiology tech?
If you take the associate degree route, plan to spend two years completing all program requirements on a full-time basis. If you enroll part-time, it will likely take three years. Those completing a bachelor’s degree should plan to spend four to six years, depending on whether they enroll on a full-time or part-time basis. You’ll also need to factor in how long you plan to study before taking the ARRT examination.
Additional Resources on Becoming a Radiology Tech
Fortis University provides this insider look at how rad techs spend their days and what new graduates can expect on the job.
ASRT supports rad techs working in the industry by providing access to continuing education courses, industry news and publications, information on standards and regulations, and a career center.
ARRT both administers the official rad tech exam and provides continuing education credentials in specialty areas for professionals looking to expand their knowledge and skills.
In addition to national associations, such as this one in California, many states have their own societies and groups.
Joining this professional association provides access to academic journals and research, practice tools, events and conventions, and networking opportunities.
Many colleges have radiology student associations, like this one at Lone Star College, you can join to network and learn about jobs.
Check into the many scholarships and online resources for radiology tech students to help you save money on your education.