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Diagnostic Imaging Salary Information and Job Duties

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a diagnostic imaging technologist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about certificate and degree programs, job duties and salary expectations to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

Diagnostic imaging technology employs many types of procedures to diagnose ailments, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), X-ray, CT, ultrasound and nuclear medicine scans. There are opportunities to work as a diagnostic medical sonographer or as a cardiovascular technologist or technician. These medical professionals operate the imaging equipment, work with patients to obtain the images and record the findings. Prospective technicians will need to complete a certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree program. Most work in hospitals, although many are employed in physicians' offices.

Required Education Certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree
Projected Job Growth (2012-22)46% (for diagnostic medical sonographers)*
Median Salary (2013) $66,410 (for diagnostic medical sonographers)*

Sources: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Job Duties

When a patient has developed a medical issue or has suffered an internal injury, doctors often rely on medical technicians and the assistance of diagnostic imaging procedures. Using specialized equipment and machines, professionals take pictures of the human body to look for abnormalities that can be diagnosed and treated. Once the images have been clearly captured, a diagnostic imaging professional passes the photos on to a doctor who will diagnose the issue and begin treatment if necessary.

Diagnostic imaging professionals are responsible for completing a variety of daily duties including:

  • Operating specialized equipment to photograph different areas of the human body
  • Communicating with patients about procedures, results and treatment options
  • Maintaining, cleaning and adjusting equipment between patient visits
  • Keeping accurate and confidential patient records
  • Providing medical doctors with clear photos to ensure proper diagnosis
  • Preparing reports, analyzing data and using computer programs as needed

Required Courses

In order to land a job in the field of diagnostic imagery, students will need to earn either a certificate, a 2-year degree or 4-year degree from an accredited institution. Required courses include:

  • Introduction to health sciences
  • Radiographic science principles
  • Sonographic instrumentation
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Echocardiography
  • Basic patient care skills
  • Cardiovascular concepts
  • Pathology of medical/surgical procedures

Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for diagnostic medical sonographers was $66,410 in 2013, and job opportunities are expected to increase 46% from 2012-2022. The job growth projections for cardiovascular technologists and technicians is 30% through 2022. This profession showed a median salary of $53,210 in 2013, according to the BLS.

Although there are generally not any certification or licensing requirements, employers prefer that applicants earn certification through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists prior to seeking employment. Professionals generally work in hospitals, doctors offices, diagnostic centers and outpatient care facilities.

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