Radiologic technologists perform important work within the healthcare field, ensuring physicians receive clear diagnostic images so they can adequately care for patients and administer treatments for radiation therapy. In addition to general skills, these professionals can also specialize in areas of MRI, mammography, and many other sub-disciplines. Whether hoping to complete an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree, this guide helps students explore their educational options, financial aid, and get a glimpse into the career and salary potential for radiologic technologists across the country.
Top Accredited Radiology Tech Programs Online (2019)
As more and more accredited online radiology tech programs pop up, students may feel a bit stressed about picking the right one. Fortunately, EduMed is here to help. We’ve identified the best online schools and programs for aspiring radiologic technologists. We’re listing the most affordable and comprehensive programs with the accreditation you need to begin a rewarding career in the field. We’ve also spotlighted three programs in full so you can begin to visualize your journey from start to finish. See who stands out in 2019.
How Online Radiology Tech Programs Work
When looking at radiology tech programs, prospective students quickly notice that most degrees are offered in a hybrid format. Learners can typically complete all general education and subject-specific courses that do not require hands-on lab work online, while externships and clinicals need to be completed in face-to-face settings. Students can get a sense of the types of classes they’ll take in each format below.
- Available online
Medical terminology. Usually taken in the first semester, this class familiarizes learners with common words and terms used within the medical profession, with emphasis on how understanding prefixes and suffixes, combined with root words, can help them ascertain meaning. Students also learn the definitions and pronunciations of each.
Human Anatomy. This course introduces students to the human body, with emphasis on articular, circulatory, digestive, endocrine, excretory, integumentary, lymphatic, muscular, reproductive, respiratory, and skeletal systems and how they work.
Communications. Because radiologic technologists work with many different types of doctors and patients, learning how to communicate clearly and effectively serves as a crucial skill. This class introduces topics in professional and compassionate communication.
Principles of Exposure. Students in this class learn about the basics of x-rays and image acquisition, with specific focus on interactions between radiation and the human body, digital imaging, and beam attenuation characteristics.
Radiologic Procedures. This class introduces learners to safe procedures for using radiologic techniques for the appendicular skeleton, abdomen, and chest while also teaching students about radiologic positioning, correct exposure, radiation protection, intensifying screens, and computerized radiography.
Radiobiology. Often taken in the second year, this advanced class provides an in-depth study of topics such as radiation safety practices, how ionizing radiation provides somatic and genetic effects, radiation measurements and regulations, and radiation biology.
Digital Imaging. Students covers common topics within digital medical imaging, including picture archiving systems, image processing, display and quality, principles of exposure, image acquisition, cassette vs. digital systems, and image quality standards.
- In-Person Only
Clinical externship. Similar to an internship, this course requires learners to spend a certain number of hours at an approved facility where they can gain real-life skills that they will use as a radiographic technologist. Although students do not need to visit campus for this class, they must visit the externship site weekly.
Radiology Positioning Lab. Typically offered on-campus rather than at an approved facility, this hands-on course helps students build skills in human anatomy, radiographic positioning, and how to provide appropriate patient care during examinations and x-rays.
Radiographic Positioning Clinical. Students home in on the nuances of positioning, with focus on topics such as angiography, arthrography, cholangiography, hysterosalpingography, and myelography. Students also learn how to alter techniques if a patient has experienced injury or trauma.
Levels of Radiology Tech Programs Online
Individuals interested in studying radiologic technology online can choose from several degree levels to fit their academic needs. While individuals just starting out on a professional career path often pick the associate or bachelor’s degree to get their foot in the door, those who have worked in the field for several years and want to climb the career ladder may decide to pursue a master’s degree. Consider which fits your current needs best as you read about each below.
Accreditation & Licensing for Radiologic Technologists
Attending an accredited school represents an important step in the journey to becoming a radiology tech, as individuals who don’t may find it challenging to transfer credits, compete against other job candidates who attended an accredited school, and, if necessary, receive licensure. Learners should look for institutional and programmatic accreditation. In the former, regional and national accreditation exists, with regional considered the more rigorous option. Students should also seek out programmatic accreditation, which is reviewed below.
Specializing as a Rad Tech
In addition to valuable skills and knowledge gained from a general radiography technology degree, the field also provides the opportunity for individuals with specific interests to concentrate their knowledge in a subfield. Some of the most popular are highlighted below.
Paying for Online Radiology Tech School
While many individuals who decide to study radiologic technology dream of making salaries well above the national average, that doesn’t necessarily mean they have the funds on hand to pay for a degree out-of-pocket. Fortunately, students can find many alternative ways of paying for a degree even if they do not have enough money in their savings.
Prospective learners should start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. In addition to becoming eligible for federal grants, loans, and work study funds, many colleges and universities use the information provided on these forms to award institutional and programmatic scholarships. Distance students should also research outside scholarships from local and national radiographic organizations, private foundations, hospitals and other healthcare organizations, nonprofits, and state and local governments. Students looking for more advice about how to avoid substantial student debt should check out EduMed’s comprehensive guide on financial aid.
Salaries & Career Growth for Radiologic Technologists
Before pursuing an online radiologic technology degree, prospective distance learners want to know how they can expect their career to progress and what salaries they can expect to earn. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, radiologic technologists earned median annual salaries of $60,070 in 2017, while those in the top 10% of earners brought home $97,460 each year. Positions for these professionals are expected to grow by 13%, meaning 30,300 new roles are projected to be added to the existing 241,700 between 2016 and 2026.
When compared to other roles at this level, positions for diagnostic medical sonographers are set to grow by 17%, while jobs for nuclear medicine technologists and veterinary technicians will grow by 10% and 20%, respectively. If individuals want to progress in their careers after a time, those who go back to school for higher education can earn even higher salaries. Radiation therapists earn $80,570 while registered nurses earn $70,000.