Mammography Technician Degrees by Degree Program Level
Learn about certificate and degree programs for mammography technicians. Get information on prerequisites, course requirements and clinical experiences in these programs, and take a look at employment opportunities and potential earnings upon graduation.
Mammography is the practice of examining the breast by means of X-ray technology, in order to detect cancerous cells. This is performed by trained radiological technologists who have often earned either professional certificates or undergraduate-level degrees.
Certificate programs in medical radiography and associate's degrees in radiologic technology both require two years of study, while bachelor's degrees in radiologic sciences take four years and include more advanced areas of study. A certificate program is often part of an associate's degree program. Students in degree programs must complete general education requirements in addition to courses in medical radiography.
All of these programs combine lecture-based classes with hands-on learning experiences. Students learn about many types of radiologic technology, not just mammography. During the extensive clinical requirements, students gain experience working with staff and patients in a real world setting. Some states require that radiologic technologists be licensed, which generally calls for graduation from an accredited program and passing an examination.
Medical Radiography Certificate
Graduates of medical radiography certificate programs are required to take certification tests in the states where they plan to work. Prospective students should select schools accredited not only by those states, but also by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology or by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools.
Schools require applicants to have high school diplomas or equivalency certificates. A minimum of two credits in algebra, math and science is usually required. Some programs will require candidates to pass a background check and drug screening.
Preliminary course such as medical terminology, anatomy, principles of radiographic exposure, biology and radiographic processing prepares students for advanced courses in topics that include:
- Radiographic film evaluation
- Quality assurance
- Medical law/ethics
- Radiology procedures
- Sectional anatomy
Most of the courses covered in the second year include intense clinical teaching by a qualified professional, usually in a medical facility.
Most colleges offer certificate and diploma programs as part of an overall associate's degree program. Earning an associate's degree is important if you want to advance to a baccalaureate program.
Associate of Applied Science Degree in Radiological Technology
This program trains students to be competent radiographers. The program focuses on problem solving, improving students' interactions with medical personnel and patients, clinical competency and professionalism.
Potential students must have already completed at least a semester of college, and earned passing grades for general educational requirements. Students will be admitted into the program based on their grade point average and reference evaluations. Some programs also require students to present a graded essay.
The first year of this 2-year program focuses on radiologic physics, technology, exposures and procedures. It also includes at least two clinical practicums. Advanced courses include:
- Advanced principles of exposure
- Pharmacology and drug administration
- Radiography and patient care
Because students are to be working closely with the public, it's highly recommended that they take elective courses in interpersonal communications.
Bachelor's Degree in Radiologic Sciences
This undergraduate-level degree program combines classroom instruction in the academic major with studies in the liberal arts and social sciences. It also promotes professional ethics and the study of technological advances.
Incoming freshmen are required to submit their high school transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. Excellent grades in prior science and math can be helpful. Most colleges also require two letters of recommendation from past teachers or professional references.
First year courses in anatomy, chemistry, biology and computer applications are complemented by advanced courses such as:
- Clinical radiological practices
- Medical terminology for the radiology professional
- X-ray physics
- CT imaging
- Cross-sectional anatomy
Most schools include a radiology internship as part of the curriculum, along with interpersonal communications courses such as patient care in imaging.
Salary Information and Employment Outlook
While there will continue to be a need for radiologic technicians with a specialty in mammography, many hospitals and health care organizations are looking for professionals with multiple specialties. Radiologic technologists earn an average of $54,620 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (www.bls.gov).
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