AAS in Radiologic Technology: Degree Overview

Read details about associate degree studies in radiologic technology. Find information about admission requirements, coursework, continuing education options, career possibilities and professional licensure. Learn about employment growth rates and salaries for this type of profession.

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Essential Information

Associate's degree programs in radiologic technology are designed to provide students with the comprehensive training and clinical experience needed for employment as competent entry-level radiologic technologists, technicians or related professionals. These programs most often award an Associate of Applied Science. Individuals in this field use radiologic equipment, such as x-ray, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines, to help physicians diagnose patients. Licensing requirements apply for those working as radiologic technologists or technicians.

Students in these programs learn how to operate radiation equipment, take orders from physicians and follow vital safety protocols. The curricula typically consist of coursework and lab sessions in health and technology courses, as well as clinical rotations. Required courses outside the radiologic technology curriculum can include anatomy and physiology, algebra and psychology. During clinical rotations, students can gain experience working with patients and operating equipment under supervision in an actual healthcare setting. Because of the experience requirements, these programs may take five rather than the traditional four semesters of full-time study to complete.

Education Prerequisites

Besides a high school diploma, individuals must commonly meet several other prerequisites to gain admission to a radiologic technology program. Some states mandate that applicants must be 18 years old and pass a background check. Besides academic competency, applicants may be required to meet physical and health requirements, such as standing for long periods of time, possessing basic motor skills and having updated immunizations.

Course Topics

Radiologic technology students take coursework in procedures, patient interaction and radiation safety. Some programs may conclude with a review seminar that provides students with a basic overview of the major principles in radiologic technology. Some course topics that may be covered in a program can include:

  • Radiographic procedures
  • Exposure principles
  • Imaging equipment
  • Radiation protection
  • Radiographic positioning

Popular Career Options

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics (BLS) reported that, while many radiologic technologists and technicians work in hospitals, opportunities are also available in imaging centers and physician's offices (www.bls.gov). They interact with patients, explaining the procedures to them and helping them through the process. Throughout a procedure, they are concerned with both the patient's safety and their own. Some career titles in radiologic technology can include:

  • Radiologic technician
  • CT technologist
  • Radiological technologist
  • MR technologist

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

A faster than average employment growth of 21% was predicted for radiologic technologists and technicians by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), for the decade spanning 2012-2022. These professionals earned an annual median salary of $54,620 in 2012, the BLS reported.

Continuing Education and Licensure Information

The BLS indicates that most states have varying licensing standards for radiologic technologists, though most states do require licensure. A common requirement is passing a state-approved licensing examination, such as the exam offered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. Once certified, individuals must meet continuing education requirements to maintain their eligibility.

Though less commonly offered than associate degree programs, bachelor's degree programs in radiologic technology are also available. These programs may offer students a greater amount of clinical experience opportunities, as well as additional coursework in areas like management information systems or marketing. This could be appealing to a student who plans to eventually enroll in a master's degree program in order to obtain an administrative position in the healthcare field. Combination associate and bachelor's degree programs are also available, where students may complete a 2-year radiologic technology program and go on to complete a 4-year program in a subject like allied health.

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