Radiology Careers

A career in radiologic technology can be highly rewarding, challenging, and lucrative. There are a number of exciting specializations in this field that can be tailored to your radiology careers goals. Radiologic technicians work daily with the cutting edge of science and technology to help patients get the diagnosis and the treatment they need.

Benefits of a Career in Radiologic Technology

This field offers a wide array of choices to the professionals who choose it. You may use your talents to detect heart blockages, help patients fight cancer, or help bring happy, healthy babies into the world.

The salaries in radiological technology are also highly competitive. Many entry-level positions in radiology careers start around $44,000 a year and go up to $135,000 a year. Most people entering this profession have far fewer student loans than other health care professionals starting out, meaning it’s easier to save for yourself and your family.

There are also quite a few schools that offer radiologic technology degrees. You may choose to pursue either an associate’s or a four-year bachelor’s degree in this field. Either will qualify you for jobs in the field. There are currently nearly 1,000 accredited programs for radiology careers in the United States, meaning you probably don’t have to travel very far from home to start your career in this field.

Radiological Technologists should have close attention to detail and a love of math and science. They will encounter a need for these skills in their daily lives, both in running the machines and in determining what steps might be next.

Strong interpersonal skills are also a huge asset to a Radiological Technologist. Patients who need to be scanned or diagnosed are often fearful, uncomfortable, or in pain, and most scanning machines require them to hold absolutely still to get a clear picture. Being able to clearly communicate what the procedure will be like and keep the patient relaxed and calm are crucial components of the job.

You will also be working in close consort with the doctors to form a diagnosis and must be comfortable working as part of a team. Because many professionals who choose radiology careers spend most or all of the day on their feet running tests and ensuring the results get where they need to go, you should be in good physical shape. This does require a degree of stamina on the part of the technologist.

Roles in Radiology

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Professionals in this specialization use imaging equipment that is based on sound waves to determine a medical diagnosis. They are frequently further specialized by area, working in the abdominal, breast, musculoskeletal, neurological, or obstetric and gynecologic sonography. They examine everything from organs and tumor growth to the healthy growth and development of a fetus in the womb.

You can begin a career in this specialization with either an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree and can expect to make around $64,380 a year.

X-Ray Technician

Also known as radiologic technologists, these professionals administer and interpret x-ray scans to help determine if a bone has been broken, dislocated, or otherwise damaged. They can also sometimes also help diagnose a chest infection. People in this career typically have an associate’s degree and are licensed by the state they work in. You can expect to make around $54,340 a year in this job.

MRI Technician

An MRI Technician employs a magnetic resonance device in order to get a more detailed and accurate scan of a patient’s body. An MRI can help diagnose everything from heart defects and embolisms to strokes and brain tumors. It is a more involved process than taking an x-ray and requires close attention to detail.

It also helps if you have a good bedside manner, since both the procedure itself and the possible diagnoses that can come from it may be frightening to patients. MRI technicians may have either their associate’s or bachelor’s degree and must be registered with the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). You can expect to make around $58,000 a year in this field.

Cardiovascular Technologist

Professionals in this specialization help doctors diagnose diseases and deformities of the heart and vascular system. They may also be a part of treating patients for blood clots. Their work may include noninvasive procedures, such as sonograms, or invasive procedures, such as inserting a catheter into an artery. They may also make use of an EKG and administer stress tests.

Technicians in this field may either be trained on the job or more commonly, through an associate’s degree program. You can expect to make around $49,410 a year in this field.

Radiation Therapist

Radiation Therapists work with patients who have cancer. They use machinery, computers, and diagnostic tests to deliver a precise amount of radiation to the precise location of the cancerous cells in an effort to destroy them without harming the patient.

Radiation therapists must keep extremely thorough records and may use an x-ray machine to pinpoint the precise location of a tumor for more accurate treatment. They are also responsible for determining if a patient is having an unusual or adverse reaction to the treatment.

Professionals in this field must have either a bachelor’s or an associate’s degree in radiation therapy and must meet the licensure requirements for their individual state. Radiation Therapists make an average of $74,980 per year.

Nuclear Medicine Technologist

Nuclear Medicine Technologists use radioactive solutions, which are either injected into or ingested by the patient in order to diagnose certain diseases, such as cancer. Since the body has different uptake rates of radiation in abnormal areas than it does in normal areas, either more or less, the technologist can locate tumors and other abnormalities using this radioactive dye.

Professionals in this field must carefully observe all safety precautions and keep detailed records of their personal radiation exposure in order to keep themselves safe. They typically have an associate’s degree in nuclear medicine technology and make an average yearly salary of $68,560.

Radiology Nurse

Radiology nurses are responsible for assistant patients and ensuring their safety and comfort during testing and procedures. They also help supervise patient recovery and help with any complications or concerns that arise.

Radiology nurses are registered nurses (RNs). These RNs have completed several years of nursing school and received special training related to radiology careers and patient care. They will have passed both the RN certification exam and the radiology nurses certification exam such as the one administered by the Association for Radiologic & Imaging Nursing.

Radiologist Assistant

A radiologist assistant is an advanced practice radiologic technologist and works under the supervision of a radiologist. RAs work side by side as vital members of the radiology team to perform complex medical imaging and therapeutic procedures to help diagnose and treat medical conditions in the delivery of patient care.

RAs are expected to play a prominent role in performing advanced imaging procedures and techniques to assist with the diagnosis of illnesses or medical conditions. RAs perform both pre and post-procedure evaluations with the patient in order to alleviate the workload of the radiologist physician.

Radiologist

A radiologist is a licensed doctor of osteopath (DO) or medical doctor (MD) who has completed specialized training in conducting radiological tests and interpreting digital images. These physicians are experts in using radiologic technology to identify abnormalities in the human body and recommend treatments.

In order to become board certified, radiologists must complete an undergraduate degree followed by four years of medical school. Upon completing these programs, they must obtain a medical license, complete one year of internship with a hospital or medical facility, and then complete four additional years of residency in the field of radiology.

Radiologic Organizations

There are a number of different professional organizations you can join, depending on your education level and career path for radiology careers.

Those interested in the general field of Radiologic Technology may be interested in the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology in order to find an accredited school in the field orASRT Education and Research Foundation, which has a number of scholarships available to people about to start a career in the field. They may also be interested in the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists or the American Society of Radiologic Technologists.

For students and professionals interested in sonography, there is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography, which has a list of accredited programs in the field. The Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonograph offers a society for already established professionals. They do have advice for those looking to break into the field, however.

Those looking to get into nuclear medicine may find interest in the list of accredited schools from the Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology. The Society of Nuclear Medicine is available to those who are already professionals in the field.

Radiology careers can result in a well-paying job that both challenges you and offers immeasurable help with comforting patients. It is not for everyone, so be sure to do your research into what the job entails before committing to a program, but if you enjoy science and technology and love helping people, radiologic technology might be a good choice for you.