Radiology Tech: Educational Requirements

Radiology technicians are healthcare professionals who take x-rays used in the diagnosis of medical issues. They must take numerous precautions to ensure that patients receive minimal exposure to radiation. Becoming a radiology technician entails completing formal instruction from an accredited radiography training program and earning a state license.

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Radiology Technician Educational Requirements

There is a variety of formal training programs available to future radiology technicians. They may earn certificates, associate's degrees or bachelor's degrees in radiology to be eligible for employment in the U.S.; however, most radiology technicians enter the career with associate's degrees. The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology accredits radiography programs and schools.

Certificate

Certificate programs in radiology generally take 1-2 years to complete. Through classroom instruction and clinical training, these programs equip students with the technical skills necessary for entry-level positions in radiology technology. Courses may include radiology equipment, image processing and patient care. Certificate programs may also include practicums in clinical radiology technology that allow aspiring radiology techs to perform radiology studies under supervision.

Associate's Degree

Associate's degree programs in radiography typically last two years and provide didactic and clinical career training, in addition to incorporating general education coursework in science and communication. Associate of Applied Science in Radiography programs can be found at community colleges and technical schools. Students generally take courses in imaging procedures and analysis, radiographic physics and radiation protection. A progressive clinical education that allows students to enhance their patient care and radiology practice is generally incorporated in these programs.

Bachelor's Degree

Some colleges and universities offer Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Technology programs. These 4-year degree programs emphasize diagnostics, patient care and advanced technology necessary for careers in hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities. Coursework may focus on principles of radiological imaging, pathology, research in the profession and special radiography procedures. Students are also required to complete clinical practicums that may include rotations in clinics and other healthcare facilities.

Licensure

Radiology technicians are required to obtain state licensure to serve in the profession. Licensing requirements are determined by the states' health boards, but generally include passage of a licensing exam. Some states may accept certifications from the American Registration of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) in lieu of completing a state licensing exam (www.arrt.org)

Certification

Though not mandatory, some radiology technicians earn professional certification to demonstrate competency in the occupation. The ARRT offers a variety of credentialing programs, including certification in radiography. Certification requirements consist of completing an ARRT-approved, formal training program, as well as passing a primary certification examination. Some radiology technicians seeking primary certification must earn at least an associate's degree. The ARRT also offers post-primary certification in specializations of radiology technology, such as mammography, cardiac intervention, sonography and radiologist assistance. Additional education is required.

Career and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a faster than average job growth for radiologic technologists in the years 2010-2020. These workers earned a median yearly wage of $54,620 in May 2012.

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