As a radiology tech, you will perform very important diagnostic imaging procedures to help physicians. You will work directly with patients and help the doctor diagnose their issues. If you want to go into medicine without becoming a doctor, this is one of the top career options.
Before you start down this career path or any, make sure you know what you will be doing. When learning how to become a radiology tech, you should already understand the basic job duties of this career. Let’s look at the job duties and the steps it takes to enter this career.
Job Duties of a Radiology Tech
As a radiology tech, you will be trained to use X-ray and other imaging options for diagnosis. This type of job will include positioning patients and protecting them during the diagnostic procedure. With the right training, you can also administer radiation to treat diseases, such as cancer.
Radiology techs make up the third-largest group of professionals in the health care industry, according to the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). This type of tech may also be referred to as a radiography tech, X-ray tech, or radiologic technician.
You may practice general radiography or choose a specialty with this career. If you choose a specialty, you will likely have unique job duties compared to a general radiology tech. As a radiology tech, your job duties will likely include:
- Getting patients ready for the diagnostic procedure, including removing jewelry, clothing items, and other metal
- Reviewing the histories and charts of patients
- Calibrating the equipment
- Properly positioning patients to ensure accurate imaging
- Following necessary safety protocols
- Using shielding devices to avoid exposing patients or co-workers to radiation
- Maintaining patient records, checking for image clarity, organizing the images, and providing them to doctors
- Sterilizing the imaging equipment
- Staying up to date on the safety measures having to do with radiation
- Complying with any government regulations
As a radiology tech, you will perform all of these duties and more. If you specialize, you may work with MRI, CT, mammography, and other imaging equipment.
How To Become a Radiology Tech in 3 Steps
Step #1 – Complete High School
You will need a high school education or a GED if you want to become a radiology tech. It’s best to take courses in high school having to do with math and science. If you can take honors or AP courses, that’s even better.
Keeping your GPA up and scoring well on the ACT or SAT is key. This will help to ensure you get into a top radiology tech program. Consider using a prep course for the SAT or ACT to score higher.
During high school, it’s also a good idea to volunteer at a health care center. This can help you understand the type of career you are going into better.
Step #2 – Get your Bachelor’s Degree
It’s common for employers to require a radiology tech to have the right educational credentials. You will need to complete a program accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT).
You can get a two-year associate degree in radiology or you can get a bachelor’s degree in radiologic sciences. Some employers may require a bachelor’s degree and this is a very competitive field.
Your classroom studies will include courses on human anatomy, imaging, procedures, radiologic physics, radiographic pathology, and patient care. After completing classroom work, you will need to go into clinical training at a hospital, diagnostic center, or clinic.
Getting a master’s degree is also an option. If you want to work in a supervisory, teaching, or administrative position, a master’s degree is necessary.
Step #3 – Get your Radiologist Technicians Certification or License
Depending on your state, you may need to pass the licensing requirements or the certification requirements. In some cases, you will need to meet both. The ARRT will require you to have a bachelor’s degree to become certified. You will also have to pass a background check and meet the ethics requirements.
A voluntary certification exam is a part of the process, as well. This exam will be taken on the computer at an exam center. You will need to complete continuing education courses to keep your certification and renew it every two years.
Check your state requirements to make sure you know what is required. Meet the requirements and become licensed, certified, or both.
Common Skills Necessary for Radiology Techs
If you want to be successful as a radiology tech, you will need to develop the right skills. Some of the most important skills include:
- Management Skills – You will need to manage patient appointments and enter details into the system. Maintaining accurate records is necessary and you will need to collect patient medical information. Good management skills will be necessary if you go into this career.
- Communication Skills – You will need to communicate well with patients, doctors, and co-workers. Explaining procedures to patients and their families will be an important part of your job. Make sure you work on your communication skills.
- Critical Thinking Skills – Getting clear images requires the right positioning of patients. You will need to think critically when working with a patient to solve any issues you may encounter.
There are many skills you will gain through education and training. However, these skills should also be developed if you want to be a successful radiology tech.
Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Radiology Tech
How much can I make as a radiology tech?
According to Indeed.com, the average pay for a radiology tech is nearly $25 per hour. Your actual pay will be determined by the type of employer you work for and your location. Some locations tend to pay more than others.
New York City is the highest paying city with Phoenix, Denver, and Chicago not far behind. All of these locations have an average pay higher than the national average.
If you have a fluoroscopy license, a higher rate of pay may be very likely. Those with acute care experience and an ARRT certification can also earn a higher level of pay. With advanced training, you may be able to earn a significantly higher hourly pay.
What type of benefits do I get as a radiology tech?
Your employer will determine the actual benefits you gain access to. Often, you will have access to health, life, vision, and dental insurance. You will likely have access to use a 401(k) and this may include employer matching. Some employers will also provide tuition reimbursement and paid time off is also very common.
Can I complete my radiology tech program online?
Yes, you can take the coursework online for this career. However, you will need to complete your clinic hours in person as this is hands-on training. All your coursework can be done online except for any lessons having to do with body imaging and patient positioning.
Will I need a certification to work as a radiology tech?
Yes, in most states you will need to get a certification from ARRT. This certification will require you to pass a four-hour, 200-question exam.
Where will I work as a radiology tech?
Any medical facility with X-ray or other imaging equipment will need to hire a radiology tech. You will likely work in a hospital, diagnostic center, health clinic, or therapy center. You may also work in a nursing home, outpatient care center, or another medical facility.
Is a radiology tech just an X-ray tech?
No, as a radiology tech, you will be able to perform multiple diagnostic imaging procedures. An X-ray tech only performs X-rays.
Is this a growing career choice in healthcare?
Yes, radiology techs are in high demand and the career is expected to grow by about 7% over the next ten years. This is a little bit faster growth compared to the average of all occupations.
What is the work environment like for a radiology tech?
You will likely work a full-time, 40-hour workweek. Shifts may include weekends, nights, and holidays. It’s common to work longer hours and spend plenty of time on your feet.
During your daily duties, you will operate radiography machines. You may also need to assist patients with mobility issues. Some radiology techs will be on-call and others may work part-time.
Can I become a traveling radiology tech?
Yes, there are traveling positions within this career choice. You can become a traveling radiology tech and work on contracts in different locations. This could provide career growth opportunities, too.
If you want to enjoy a career in healthcare, learning how to become a radiology tech is a good way to go. This type of career pays higher than average and offers shorter training options. If you want to get the most out of your career, use the steps above.
Becoming a radiology tech is a popular option. It’s a competitive field, so you may want to get an advanced degree. Certifications can also help you land the right job for you.