bethesda-naval-medical-center-80380_640Before you have your wisdom teeth out, the dentist has to check an X-ray to make sure the extraction will be safe, with no nerve damage. When you feel some chest pains, the cardiologist may send you for a sonogram before doing anything more invasive to check for blockages. When you go for your first ultrasound, you may see a little gummy bear on the monitor that will soon enough be your baby.

All of those fall under something called imaging technologies, and the cameraperson is known as a Radiology (or Radiologic) Technician. Some places call them by the specific technology they specialize in, such as MRI Technician. They are one of the most important people in modern medicine. They’re also one of the most readily available medical jobs.

Education

The common route educationally for those wishing to purse a career in Radiology would be the Associate’s degree. Some may go further and obtain a bachelor’s degree for higher pay potential, but for entry level, only an associate’s will do.

An Associate’s degree will be a mix of classroom and clinical training. Coursework will be in the following:

  • anatomy/physiology
  • chemistry
  • mathematics
  • pathology
  • patient care
  • radiation physics
  • image diagnostics

Licensing and Certifications

Usually one starts off as a general Radiology Technician and then specializes. For example, someone interested in becoming an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) technician would need to pass a series of imaging exams and sit for a certification specifically titled for MRI techs. Requirements vary state by state for Radiologic Technologists.

The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) is a great starting point to find accredited programs nationally. An accredited program is needed to obtain a license in Radiology in most states.

After attending and graduating from an accredited program with an AAS or AS (Associate of Applied Science or Associate of Science) the student can seek certification. Certifications are done by the American Registry of Radiologic Technology (ARRT).

Job Expectations

Technologists are found in a variety of healthcare facilities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics they are most often (nearly 60%) found at hospitals. The rest are at medical and diagnostic laboratories and outpatient centers.

Once concerning notion to becoming a Radiology Technician is the amount of radiation you might be exposed to. With the use of protective gear such as lead aprons, gloves and eyewear, that risk should be greatly minimized. A Technician is required to wear a badge which measures the radiation level in a particular area. They also keep detailed records throughout the lifetime of their careers.

Outlook

This is a medical field, you can probably guess if it’s a safe bet career. Let’s face it, as our population grows and ages, an increase in medical conditions can be expected, and these technology careers are estimated to grow by about 21% between years 2012 through 2022.

For a two-year associate’s degree career, this is a fine occupation in relation to pay scale. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a technologist can expect to make anywhere between $55k and $77K.