Radiation therapy is one of the many cancer treatments. It involves using radiation to shrink and eliminate tumors and cancers.
A radiation therapist is a healthcare professional with exceptional technical and interpersonal skills. These therapists operate equipment such as linear accelerators and cobalt machines to deliver radiation therapy.
If you’re detail-oriented, have a lot of stamina, and like the idea of working closely with ill patients to help them get better, becoming a radiation therapist may be the right career choice for you.
In this post, we detail the role’s responsibilities and the salary you may earn as a radiation therapist.
How Much Do Radiation Therapists Make?
The latest report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the national average median salary for radiation therapists is $86,850 per year, which is $41.76 per hour.
Furthermore, according to Salary.com, the average salary for a radiation therapy technologist in the United States is $88,106 as of May 27, 2021. However, the range typically falls between $80,116 and $98,426.
However, those stats don’t provide a full picture of how much a radiation therapist earns. The salary offered in the job title depends on different factors. Your level of education, the number of certifications you have, your experience, and additional skills determine your base salary.
One of the other factors that make a difference to your base salary is location.
Highest Paying States for Radiation Therapists
The average radiation therapist salary can vary widely from location to location. The compensation is more or less the same in most states; however, the job can pay much more in some states.
For example, radiation therapists in California earn an average median salary of $126,610, which works out to a mean hourly wage of $60.87. If you get the job title in New York, you may earn an average salary of $120,470.
Montana, Washington, and Oregon are other excellent states to be a radiation therapist in. In these states, the professionals earn an average annual salary of between $105,000 and $107,000.
But it’s essential to bear in mind that the cost of living is higher in better paying U.S. states. You will need to spend more to live in New York than in Oregon. While the job may pay more in New York, you will save more in Oregon.
According to ZipRecruiter, the salary for a radiation therapists by state looks like this.
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Radiation Therapist Career Outlook
The BLS projects that the demand for radiation therapists will see a 9% growth between 2020 and 2030. In other words, the bureau expects 1,100 more jobs in the role every year. A lot of the openings will result from people changing occupations or retiring.
The bottom line is that you won’t have to struggle to find job openings and get hired after you become a radiation therapist.
What is a Radiation Therapist?
While many believe that radiation therapists spend all their time in the radiation operation unit, there’s a lot more to the job. Radiation therapists are on their feet all day, delivering therapy to ill and disabled patients while following safety procedures.
For this reason, in addition to being knowledgeable, radiation therapists must also be attentive, hardworking, and dedicated to helping patients. Working with radiation is dangerous and scary, and radiation therapists also must have a strong gut to work with ill patients that the treatment might not work on.
What Does a Radiation Therapist Do?
A radiation therapist works with radiation oncologists – doctors specializing in treating diseases like cancer with radiation therapy. The oncology team also comprises oncology nurses who specialize in cancer care.
The oncologists create treatment plans, and the therapists carry out the treatment. A radiation therapist works with a lot of different equipment. Before beginning treatment, a radiation therapist must get every patient’s CAT scans, X-rays, and tomography.
The diagnostic reports help radiation therapists pinpoint the area that needs treatment and determine how the patient must be positioned for treatment. Radiation therapists must also use immobilization devices to replicate the patient’s position in every treatment session.
When operating the radiation machine, the therapist must deliver appropriate doses of radiation to the patient. The therapist must also monitor the patients and maintain a record of details such as equipment control settings, patient response, and amount of radiation delivered to date.
Other responsibilities include maintaining the condition of the equipment, answering the patient’s questions, and protecting themselves and the patient from radiation exposure.
Where Do Radiation Therapists Work?
Radiation therapists work in a variety of environments. In addition to working in cancer treatment centers and outpatient centers, radiation therapists also work in doctor’s offices, universities, and hospitals.
A radiation therapist typically works full-time during the weekdays in the daytime. That said, emergencies happen, and if your employers require it, you may need to be on-call or work evenings, weekends, and holidays.
How Do I Become a Radiation Therapist?
There are a few different types of radiation therapy programs available. There are one, two, and even four-year programs that can be taken to earn a diploma, certificate, or degree in radiation therapy. These programs will vary on the classes that are required and on what topics are taught.
Many of the one-year radiation therapy programs are not accredited and may not be used in order to qualify with your state licensing regulations. If you are considering taking one of these programs, you should understand your state’s guidelines. You will also not be able to take the American Registry of Radiation Therapist (ARRT) exams to become a member of the registry without a degree from an accredited program.
Conclusion: Should You Become A Radiation Therapist?
You need to have solid interpersonal skills to become a radiation therapist. You must be sensitive and responsive to every patient’s emotional and physical needs. Listening and being empathic towards the patient’s families is also a part of the job.
To recognize problems and formulate solutions, you must have good observation and critical thinking skills. Paying attention to details is critical since radiation must be delivered in precise amounts. Overexposure can be dangerous for both the patient and the therapist.
Good technical skills and high physical stamina are also required for success in the role.
If you think you have the required skills and can handle the emotional burden of the job, you can enjoy a regular work schedule, great work-life balance, an excellent salary, and several opportunities to grow as a radiation therapist.
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