Nuclear Medicine Certification and Certificate Programs

Find out about prerequisites and courses in a nuclear medicine technology specialist certificate program. Discover continuing education and career options.

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Essential Information

Nuclear medicine is a form of diagnostic imaging that uses radiopharmaceuticals to help produce images used for diagnosing diseases, infections, and other health problems. Nuclear medicine professionals administer radiopharmaceuticals to patients and then operate scanners, also called gamma cameras, to detect the distribution of radiation emissions in the body.

Healthcare workers seeking training in this technology can complete 12-month nuclear medicine technology specialist certificate programs. Nurses, diagnostic medical sonographers, and radiologic technologists are among those who often pursue the certificate. Certificate programs, which are typically offered through hospitals, cover how to safely use the equipment and record the results for physicians to interpret. Upon completion of the program, students are eligible to pursue certification as nuclear medicine technologists (NMTs), which is available through the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB) or the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).

Educational Prerequisites

An applicable associate's degree in a related field such as radiation therapy or diagnostic medical sonography is required. In addition, courses in medical terminology, human anatomy, and physiology are recommended.

Program Coursework

The student engages in hands-on experience in a controlled classroom environment and, eventually, through an internship program at a medical office or hospital. The curriculum covers the functions of organ systems as well as in-depth safety and equipment procedures. Here is a list of course topics one might study through this certificate program:

  • Nuclear medicine procedures
  • Clinical nuclear medicine technology
  • Nuclear medicine physics
  • Applications of nuclear medicine
  • Radiopharmacy
  • Instrumentation in nuclear medicine
  • Radiation safety
  • Anatomy

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the average yearly income for nuclear medicine technologists in May 2012 was $70,840. That same year, there were about 20,480 positions held nationwide. The employment of NMTs is projected to grow by 19% between 2010 and 2020, reports the BLS. NMTs can work in hospitals, laboratories, private practice offices, and similar healthcare facilities.

Continuing Education Information

Over half of the states in the U.S. require nuclear medicine technologists to be certified. Certification for NMTs is available through the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB) or the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT); some NMTs choose to obtain both certifications. The requirements for initial certification include completing an approved training program and passing an exam. To maintain their certified status, NMTs must earn continuing education credits annually, demonstrating that they're keeping abreast of technological advances in the nuclear medicine field.

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