Are you interested in a challenging and satisfying career helping patients in their fight to overcome serious illness? How about one that also has good pay and real growth potential that doesn’t require years of grad school?
If this sounds like you, then you may want to consider becoming a radiation therapist. Radiation therapists are medical professionals who provide crucial radiation therapy to cancer patients at state-of-the-art treatment facilities in their communities. To become a radiation therapist, you’ll need to earn your professional radiation therapist certification. And that requires completing a fully-accredited radiation therapy degree or certificate program.
This guide shows you how you can get the radiation therapy training you need through the convenience and flexibility of distance learning. Below you’ll find key details to get started on your program search, including a list of the best online radiation therapy schools and the different types of programs offered partially-online. You’ll also get the latest information on radiation therapy salaries, job prospects, and much more. Keep reading to learn how you can launch your career in radiation therapy by earning your radiation therapist online degree.
Best Radiation Therapist Online Programs for 2021
We’ve spotlighted three of the best online radiation therapy schools to give you an idea of what to look for. These programs rose to the top based on several important criteria, including affordability, flexibility and convenience, access to student support services, and proper accreditation. The spotlights also provide a preview of our full radiation therapist online program rankings list coming later this year. So, be sure to check back.
Popular Types of Radiation Therapist Online Programs
When it comes to radiation therapist online programs, your options are fairly limited but there are some out there. These include both associate and bachelor’s degree programs, as well as courses leading to a radiation therapy postsecondary certificate. Each is designed to accommodate students at different points along their academic and professional paths. How do you decide which is best for you? Here’s a look.
What Do You Learn in an Online Radiation Therapist Program?
The job of the radiation therapist is to administer prescribed doses of radiation to cancer patients through the operation of sophisticated radiation therapy equipment. And that’s what your radiation therapist online degree or certificate program will train you to do. Through coursework and hands-on training at state-of-the-art treatment facilities, students learn to explain treatment procedures to patients, properly position patients to receive treatment, administer proper dosages of radiation, monitor patients for unusual reactions to treatment, and maintain accurate treatment records.
Every radiation therapist online program sets its own program goals in a statement of learning outcomes similar to the following:
- Clinical competence
Demonstrated clinical competence in all duties and responsibilities of an entry-level radiation therapist, including the implementation of proper clinical procedures, application of appropriate radiation protection principles and practices, and the application of appropriate legal and ethical practice standards.
Demonstrated competency of effective communication and interpersonal skills when interacting with patients and fellow members of the therapist’s oncology team both inside and outside the clinical setting.
- Critical thinking
Demonstrated competence in critical thinking and problem-solving skills in academic and professional radiation therapy practice settings. These include the ability to recognize and resolve issues concerning patient treatment in both routine and nonroutine circumstances.
- Professional and ethical practice
Possession of a solid understanding of professional and ethical standards of behavior and their consistent application both within and outside the clinical setting.
- Professional development and lifelong learning
Commitment to professional growth during and after the student’s radiation therapist academic program and throughout their entire professional career. This includes active participation in continuing education programs and professional activities that keep them aware of current and emerging radiation therapy methods, practices, and technologies.
FAQs About Online Radiation Therapy Schools
How much does online radiation therapy school cost?
Costs for online radiation therapy schools and the degrees and certificates they offer vary from school to school, sometimes substantially. This is due to factors such as program type and length and whether the school is public or private. Private programs tend to cost more than their public counterparts. We’ve listed current tuition rates for three radiation therapist online programs. These figures will give you a general idea of costs for the program you choose.
Total Credits: 65
*Figures are approximate, based on an average of 11 credits per semester.
Cambridge College of Healthcare & Technology
Total Credits: 89
Total Credits: 40
Can you get a radiation therapy degree completely online?
In a word: no. But there are radiation therapy degree and certificate programs that offer some or (in a few cases) all their academic coursework in an online format. The extent of online content depends on the particular school and, most significantly, the degree you’re seeking. Plus, all radiation therapy degree and certificate programs that lead to ARRT Radiation Therapy certification and registration eligibility include the in-person clinical hours needed for that eligibility.
Is financial aid available for online radiation therapy programs?
Generally speaking, yes. Many schools themselves offer their students scholarship and grant opportunities and may even provide their own loan programs. More common student loans, like those from the federal government, are available to radiation therapy degree students whose programs are properly accredited (including all of the degree programs mentioned in this guide). Other funding resources such as work-study and employee tuition reimbursement programs may also be available.
Accreditation for Online Radiation Therapy Schools and Programs
Postsecondary accreditation is the process through which schools and their degree and certificate programs are reviewed and confirmed to meet stated standards of academic quality. Proper accreditation is crucial because that’s how you can be sure the program you choose is worth your time, effort, and money.
There are two basic types of accreditation to look for from radiation therapist online programs: institutional and programmatic. Institutional accreditation refers to the accreditation of colleges and universities themselves. Institutional accreditation of U.S. postsecondary institutions is administered by several Department of Education-recognized independent regional and national accrediting agencies. Programmatic accreditation concerns the vetting of individual degree and certificate programs offered by colleges and universities. Programmatic accreditation of radiation therapy programs in the U.S. is administered by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT).
Both institutional and programmatic accreditation information can normally be found on program webpages. You can also confirm institutional accreditation status by visiting the various institutional accrediting agency websites linked above. You can check programmatic accreditation by using this JRCERT Accredited Educational Programs search engine.
Employment and Salary Outlook for Radiation Therapists
Two important questions for all career seekers are, “Is this career in high demand?” and “How much will I earn?” For prospective radiation therapists, the answers to both questions are very encouraging. For example, according to the recent figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for radiation therapists in the U.S. is $86,850–well above the $41,950 median salary for all occupations combined. The BLS also reports radiation therapist salary estimates of $60,080 for the lowest 10% of earners and $132,930 for the highest 10% of earners.
As for job outlook, employment of U.S. radiation therapists is expected to grow by 7% between 2019 and 2029. That’s nearly twice the estimated growth rate for all occupations combined during that same period. Not bad for a career you can enter with as little as an associate degree or undergrad certificate.
Radiation Therapist Licensing and Professional Certification
Once you’ve earned your radiation therapy online degree or certificate, you’ll need to take and pass the exam for ARRT Radiation Therapist certification and registration. That’s why, along with proper accreditation, it’s so important to always confirm that any program you consider qualifies you for the ARRT exam. The ARRT Radiation Therapist exam is a 3 ½-hour computer-based test administered by Pearson VUE. It can be taken online or at dozens of Pearson VUE test centers in the U.S. and around the world. Find detailed information about the ARRT exam and all other certification and registration requirements in this ARRT Primary Eligibility Pathway Handbook.
Additionally, many states have licensing laws governing radiologic technology and its practice, which means you many have to meet state radiation therapist licensure requirements as well. Be sure to check for any requirements by visiting your state government’s official website.
Related Degrees to Consider
Online Resources for Radiation Therapy Students and Professionals
- American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT)
- American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO)
- American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT)
- International Society of Radiographers & Radiological Technologists (ISRRT)
- Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JCERT)
- Lambda Nu (National Honor Society for Radiologic and Imaging Sciences)
- National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health
- Radiation Therapy Students Facebook Group
- Radiological Society of North America (RSNA)
- Society for Women in Radiation Oncology (SWRO)