X-Ray Technician Degree and Diploma Program Information
X-ray technicians, also known as radiologists, produce x-ray images of different parts of the body. Radiology degree and certificate programs train students to work as x-ray technicians; students learn how to develop radiographic films, assist with doctor diagnosis and position patients for x-rays.
Associate Degree in Radiology
A 2-year associate degree in radiology is the most common degree held by professional x-ray technicians. For students with no prior experience working with x-rays, an associate degree program will provide them with the minimum amount of training required to work as entry-level x-ray technicians. Students take a combination of courses in the natural sciences, anatomy and physiology that prepare them for training in patient care and the proper operation of radiology equipment and how to read x-rays. Some states require x-ray technicians to be licensed. As such, several programs include courses to prepare graduates for state licensing exams.
Although no prior experience with x-ray technology is necessary to enter an associate degree program in radiology, most schools require a high school diploma or GED. Many programs prefer a strong background in the natural sciences, though this is not strictly required. Most associate degree programs also include a handful of general education courses in writing, math and the social sciences.
The first year of an associate degree program in radiology covers the natural sciences, math and anatomy and physiology in addition to general education requirements. Much of the work specific to training x-ray technicians takes place during the second year of the program. Students should expect to take courses like:
- Patient care procedures
- Radiation physics
- Radiation protection
- Medical terminology
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), x-ray technicians are expected to be in high demand as radiation technology advances and becomes increasingly sophisticated. X-ray technicians can work in hospitals, for sports teams and in private clinics. The median annual salary of entry-level technicians is around $32,000.
Bachelor's Degree In Radiology
A Bachelor of Science degree in radiology not only trains students to work as x-ray technicians but also prepares them for supervisory and teaching positions at hospitals, medical schools, clinics and physical therapy centers. In fact, many students in 4-year bachelor's degree programs have already completed associate degree programs and are returning to school to train for management positions in their departments.
Although students can apply directly to bachelor's programs, many programs require students to have associate degrees in radiology. Additionally, many schools prefer that bachelor's degree candidates have some professional experience as x-ray technicians, though this is seldom required. Students applying directly to bachelor's degree programs from high school should have a high school diploma or GED. Although most programs do not require standardized test scores, students are expected to have a background in science, math and social sciences.
Courses in bachelor's degree programs in radiology will likely include:
- Cardiovascular radiology
- Chest radiology
- Breast imaging
- Health care management
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
X-ray technicians holding a Bachelor of Science in Radiology stand to earn significantly more than their counterparts with associate degrees. Because bachelor's degree programs cover a wide-range of areas of interest to the professional radiologist, it gives potential technicians the ability to specialize in specific areas of radiology. Their diverse background also makes them well suited for management positions and supervisory roles. According to the BLS, radiologic technologists, which includes x-ray technicians, will see about 17% job growth in the period between 2008 and 2018. X-ray technicians with 4-year degrees typically earn between $50,000 and $60,000 per year.
Certification Programs For X-Ray Technicians
Unlike other fields, certification programs in radiology are meant for students with experience working as x-ray technicians. The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) offers voluntary certification for x-ray technicians. Many hospitals and private clinics offer internal training and ARRT-approved certification programs for their technicians. Although ARRT certification is not required by law, it may be required by employers. Employees are usually required to take these certification exams within a certain amount of time after they are hired.
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