Radiation therapists help treat cancer by providing the radiation treatments for cancer patients. Radiation therapists most commonly work in either cancer centers or hospitals and collaborate with doctors, nurses, and medical imaging professionals to treat cancer patients. They use CT scanners to locate the tumor, and then they use linear accelerators to target and shrink tumors. A radiation therapist must also monitor the patient during radiation treatments to adjust the treatments based on the seriousness of the side effects.
Because radiation therapists work directly with cancer patients, they must be willing to work in stressful environments. Keeping a positive attitude is an important attribute of a radiation therapist. They must also be encouraging and cognizant of a person's mood and feelings during this difficult time in the patient's life.
A radiation therapist's daily tasks typically include:
Offer emotional support during difficult times
Keep detailed medical records of treatments
Monitor patients during their treatment sessions for side effects and response
Locate and target tumors using high-tech equipment
Radiation Therapist Job Education Requirements
Most states require radiation therapists to be licensed with a degree in radiation therapy or something similar to work as a radiation therapy technologist. Radiation therapists must have either a bachelor's degree or an associate's degree in radiation therapy to become licensed. Other positions in radiation therapy, such as program coordinators or directors, oncologists, or department heads require a postgraduate degree.
Radiation Therapist Job Market
The job market for radiation therapists should grow over 20 percent in the next ten years. It is very dependent on the region of the United States. Some areas report numerous job openings in the field while other areas do not have any openings at all. As the technology changes, some hospitals are changing their policies and may not need radiation therapists in those facilities. However, it is important to note that with the rise in cancer rates, there is still projected a strong job growth in specific areas over the next ten years.
Radiation Therapist Job Salary Information
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average salary for radiation therapists is about $77,500 per year. The highest paid radiation therapists tend to work in outpatient care centers versus a hospital. The salary for a radiation therapist is dependent on whether or not they work in the private or public sector, the region of the United States, and whether a person lives and works in a rural or urban area.