How to Become a Radiologic Technologist
Both education and compassion are key to a successful career as a radiologic technologist.
From helping parents see the first image of their baby to explaining the steps you’ll take to perform a mammogram, you’ll find a rewarding career ahead of you when you learn how to become a radiologic technologist.
Your education for a career as an RT includes basic science like anatomy and biology. You’ll also learn about radiology and work with the latest imaging technologies every day.
Because you’ll be working with people who are in pain or hoping to find a diagnosis, one of the most important parts of being a radiologic technologist is compassion. As an RT, you’ll interact with patients of all ages and backgrounds, making them feel comfortable while also performing your essential duties.
What Is a Radiologic Technologist?
When you learn how to become a radiologic technologist, also known as a radiographer or an RT, you become an expert in using X-rays and other diagnostic imaging tools to examine patients. But RTs don’t just snap shots of the inside of your body, they’re also mixologists of sorts! Have you ever had to drink that rather unpleasant concoction before undergoing an X-ray? A radiologic technologist will bring you that drink so your soft tissue can be viewed on the images.
As a radiographer, you might work in a health-care facility such as an outpatient diagnostic center or a hospital. If you discover that you have a particular interest in one type of medicine, you can specialize in one of several areas, such as mammography or computed tomography.
What Does a Radiologic Technologist Do?
Wherever you find a position in the radiography field, your day might include tasks like:
- Overseeing imaging equipment, by operating, adjusting, and maintaining it.
- Reading and following specific physician orders to image the correct areas of patients’ bodies.
- Positioning patients and equipment in order to get the correct image.
- Working with patients to take a medical history.
- Safeguarding patients by shielding exposed areas that do not need to be imaged.
- Helping doctors evaluate images to see if they are detailed enough or need to be retaken.
- Keeping detailed patient records on procedures that you’ve performed
Discover more about the responsibilities of an RT in Monster’s radiologic technologist job description.
How to Become a Radiologic Technologist
To obtain a job as a radiologic technologist, requirements will include getting your associate degree or certificate by completing coursework and 1,850 clinical hours working with patients under supervision. You’ll then need to take an exam to get your national certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Some states also require RTs to obtain a state license.
Radiologic Technologist Education
If you’re a high school student thinking about how to become a radiologic technologist, it will be helpful to take classes in math and science. Sign up for courses such as anatomy, biology, chemistry, and physics.
Most RTs have an associate degree. This is a great route for you to follow if you have no previous medical experience. You can also earn a bachelor’s degree at a radiologic technologist school where you’ll take much of the same coursework, just at a higher level. A radiologic technologist degree from a four-year college or university may help you advance in your career down the road.
If you’ve worked in the medical field, especially in a radiology department or lab, you can bypass the degree requirement and earn a certificate in radiography or in a specialty area like sonography at a technical school or community college. Many hospitals provide training to current employees who wish to obtain an RT certificate as well.
The RT certificate program is usually quite intense, with a heavy course load. Along with field experience, classes include:
- Radiology Theory
- Patient Positioning
- Patient Safety
Whatever type of RT program you choose, be sure it is accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology. And if you need a bit of help covering the costs of your education, check out these radiologic technology scholarships.
Radiologic Technologist Certification
After you’ve graduated from an accredited school, you’ll need to take a national exam to be certified as a radiologic technologist by the ARRT. The American Society of Radiologic Technologists provides continuing education courses that are needed for your annual certification renewal.
While learning how to become a radiologic technologist, you might gravitate toward a specialty area. You can take additional coursework to be certified in multiple specialties, including mammography and sonography, once you’ve obtained your ARRT certification.
How Much Does a Radiologic Technologist Make?
Monster data shows the median radiologic technologist salary is $27.40 per hour. The salary can range from $19.47 to more than $37 an hour depending on where you work and your level of experience. For example, radiologic technologists who work at outpatient care centers make a median of $90,820 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
You can look up the average salary for radiologic technologists in your location by using the Monster Salary Guide.
How to Find Radiologic Technologist Jobs
The BLS projects that the need for radiologic technologists will grow by 7% over the next 10 years as the population grows older and more patients develop medical conditions that require radiologic imaging.
It’s a growing field, so there’s a lot of opportunity out there if you know where to look. But before you start your job search, it’s important to put together a winning radiologic technologist resume. Include your education and your training, and be sure to highlight your soft skills, including compassion and the desire to work with patients.
And when you’re ready to apply, check out Monster’s list of radiologic technologist jobs available now.
If you can’t find many options in your area, consider searching in one of the top five states with the most radiologic technologist jobs, according to the BLS:
Or check out the top five metro areas:
See Yourself as a Radiologic Technologist? Monster Can Help
You’ve taken all the right steps to learn how to become a radiologic technologist, and you feel in your bones that you’ve found the right career path for you. Now, how do you connect with employers? Upload your resume for free on Monster, and we’ll send you alerts for new jobs as they’re posted and career advice that will help you to get a leg up on the competition.