Bone Density Technician Training and Degree Program Options

Find detailed information about degree and certification training programs for those seeking to become bone density technicians. Read about levels of study, admission requirements and courses likely to be included in the curriculum of each program. Learn about career options as well as projected employment growth and average annual earnings for these types of technicians.

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Essential Information

Bone density technicians generally perform medical imaging via x-ray technology known as bone densitometry. Degree programs can usually be found in imaging science or technology and are offered at the associate and bachelor's degree levels. Studies in these programs offer students the opportunity to understand the physics behind radiologic science and commonly offer lab exercises and hands-on internship training in which students will work directly with imaging equipment. Training programs can also be found that are designed to prepare students to take certification exams in this field. Some bone density technician training courses can take less than one week to complete. Degree and training programs prepare students for professional certification exams via organizations like the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) and the International Society for Clinical Densitometry (ISCD).


Bone Density Technician Certification Training

Bone density measurement (also known as dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) training courses teach the essential knowledge required for ARRT and ISCD certification exam eligibility. These programs introduce students to symptoms that indicate the need to obtain bone mass measurements, along with the safety and technical actions used during these radiological procedures. Instruction is also given on the relationship between bone density measurements and the risk of fracture. The majority of these programs do not have education prerequisites; however, some might require that candidates hold a high school diploma or GED.

Program Coursework

The curriculum in bone density training programs strives to meet national radiologic science professional standards. Subject areas covered include:

  • Functions of bones
  • Methods and techniques for acquiring and analyzing bone density scans
  • Basic database management and quality assurance procedures
  • Radiation safety measures
  • Skeletal physiology and bone anatomy

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the occupational demand for radiologic technologists and technicians, including bone density technicians, was predicted to increase by approximately 28% from 2010-2020, which is faster than the average for all jobs. In May 2012, these positions paid an average annual wage of $56,450, according to the BLS.

Professional Certification

The BLS states that licensure is a requirement for bone density technologists and radiologic technicians in most states, the specifics of which can fluctuate from state to state. To qualify for certification exams, graduates must hold an allied health degree and documented experience.


Associate's Degree in Medical Imaging Technology

Individuals seeking a degree program option that covers much of the same material as a bone density technician training program can consider an associate's degree program in medical imaging technology. These degree programs prepare graduates for entry-level employment or a bachelor's degree program in this field. Topics covered in an associate's degree program include medical terminology, anatomy, ultrasound principles and scanning.

Program Coursework

Medical imaging technology associate's degree programs tend to take about two years to complete and involve approximately 24-credit hours of general education classes, along with a specified number of core and specialization classes. Typical classes include:

  • Physiology
  • Emergency response
  • Physics
  • Medical ethics
  • Doppler imaging

Popular Careers

An associate's degree in medical imaging technology can open up career opportunities in physician's offices, industrial x-ray facilities and hospitals. These occupations not only include radiologic technicians, but can also include the following:

  • Nuclear medicine technician
  • Diagnostic medical sonographer
  • Magnetic resonance imaging technician
  • Radiology practitioner assistant

Bachelor's Degree in Medical Imaging Sciences (BSMIS)

Undergraduate majors in medical imaging sciences, also known as radiologic technology, provide students with the general education and scientific knowledge base for most careers in the radiology industry. Aspiring bone densitometry technicians are provided with the necessary skills to use and adjust x-ray equipment, as well as shield patients from radiation. They also learn the patient care and bone measuring techniques.

Students gain the specific medical imaging instruction required for ARRT certification exam eligibility. Students who have successfully completed a two-year clinical program or have earned professional radiologic technology credentials may be given advanced standing within these programs.

Program Coursework

A bachelor's degree program curriculum includes clinical internships in imaging modalities, such as diagnostic medical sonography, magnetic resonance imaging and nuclear medicine technology. Students also complete general education courses in liberal arts and humanities. Common medical imaging coursework can include:

  • Computers in healthcare
  • Nuclear medicine
  • Health sciences
  • Scientific inquiry
  • Ethical issues in healthcare

Popular Career Options

Bachelor's holders possess the theoretical knowledge and practical application to enter mid-level technologist careers in several areas of medicine. Job positions may include:

  • Bone density technician
  • Nuclear medical technologist
  • Computed tomography technologist
  • Radiographer
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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics