Radiologic Technologist

3D Technologist, Angiogram Special Procedures Technologist   More Names
CAT Scan Technologist (Computed Axial Tomography Technologist), Computed Tomography Radiologic Technologist (CT Rt), Computed Tomography Technologist (CT Technologist), CT Scan Special Procedures Technologist, CT Scan Technologist (Computed Tomography Scan Technologist), Diagnostic Imaging Technologist, Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist, Imaging Specialist, Magnetic Resonance Technologist (MR Technologist), Mammographer, Mammography Technologist, Medical Imaging Technologist, Nuclear Medicine Technologist, Radiographer, Radiographer Technologist, Radiographer, Mammographer, Radiologic Technologist (RT), Radiologic Technologists, Radiological Technologist, Radiology Technologist, Radiology Therapist, Skiagrapher, Sonographer, Staff Radiographer, Staff Technologist, Ultrasound Technologist, X-Ray Technologist (X-Ray Tech)

Use radiation-emitting equipment to perform a range of diagnostic imaging exams, such as mammography. Also may conduct diagnostic tests using equipment that does not use ionizing radiation, such as ultrasound scanning or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Radiologic technologists produce precise images of the tissues, organs, bones, and vessels of the human body for use in diagnosing medical disease, injury, or condition and directing therapies. They prepare patients for radiologic exams and conform to rules concerning the use of radiation to protect themselves, their patients, and their coworkers from unnecessary exposure. They also process exposed radiographs using film processors and computer generated methods.

Radiologic technologists are employed in hospitals, specialized imaging centers, urgent care clinics, and private physicians' offices. Some also work for imaging centers of local, state, or federal government agencies.

Radiologic technologist is a wide-ranging career field, and this occupational name is often used to also encompass a number of imaging as well as treatment career specialties. More particularly, these specialty "careers" often are grouped into two broad medical team areas: the Medical Imaging Team and the Radiation Oncology Team.

Some of the more common radiologic technologist specialty careers within Medical Imaging Teams include Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologist, and Nuclear Medicine Technologist. Each of these imaging team specialties has its own separate career profile on this Healthcare VCN website. In addition, the Radiographer career, which is commonly a first step on the medical imaging career pathway, also has its own career profile. On the Radiation Oncology Team, the most commonly recognized radiologic technologist specialty is the Radiation Therapist, who helps treat cancer and other diseases. This Oncology Team specialty also has its own separate career profile on this website.

Radiologic technologists work under the direction of radiologists, and as ordered by physicians and surgeons, to produce medical images of parts of the human body for use in diagnosing medical problems. They may specialize in imaging procedures such as computed tomography (CT), mammography, bone densitometry, cardiac interventional radiography, or vascular-interventional radiography. They may also perform non-x-ray-based, diagnostic imaging such as ultrasound scanning or magnetic resonance imaging. (Radiologists are specialized doctors who perform and interpret a wide-range of radiologic, x-ray diagnostic tests and non-x-ray tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasounds.)

Radiologic technologists set-up and prepare the exam room and obtain any needed supplies before the patient arrives. They will prepare the patient for the medical imaging exam by explaining the procedure and positioning the patient so that the body can be properly imaged.

To prevent unnecessary exposure to radiation, radiologic technologists will limit the size of an x-ray beam. They also will surround the exposed area of the patient's body with radiation protection devices, such as lead shields, when appropriate. They will position radiographic equipment at the correct angle and height over the appropriate area of a patient's body. They will set the controls on the x-ray machine to produce images of the appropriate density, detail, and contrast; and then obtain the images with a short exposure.

Radiologic technologists review the quality of the images produced, repeating the work if any exposures do not meet physicians' requirements. When all needed images are satisfactory, they will remove any lead shields and other protective coverings from the patient. Afterwards, they will take the images to the radiologist in charge for review and then forward the images to the requesting physician or surgeon. They also are responsible for monitoring radiologic equipment for any problems, and for maintaining a clean, orderly, and sterile x-ray room.

Radiologic technologists apply knowledge of anatomy, physiology, positioning, radiographic technique, and radiation biology and protection in the performance of their responsibilities. They need to be able to communicate effectively with patients, physicians, and other health professionals. They also require problem-solving and critical-thinking skills to perform medical imaging procedures that adapt to the particular conditions of patients.

Physical stamina is important in this occupation because radiologic technologists are on their feet for long periods and may lift or turn disabled patients. They work at diagnostic machines but also may perform some procedures at patients' bedsides. Some travel to patients in large vans equipped with sophisticated diagnostic equipment.

Radiologic technologists need to have the education and training required to perform medical imaging exams safely and correctly. While radiation hazards exist in this occupation, these are minimized by the use of lead aprons, gloves, and other shielding devices, as well as by instruments monitoring exposure to radiation. Radiologic technologists wear badges that measure radiation levels in the radiation area, and detailed records are kept on their cumulative lifetime dose.

Radiologic technologists may progress to assume supervisory responsibilities, but also may choose to become trained and certified in one or more of the multiple areas of medical diagnostic imaging or treatment described earlier.

Credentials Needed: The majority of states regulate the occupation of radiologic technologist by requiring licensing or registration. This number states requiring licensing or registration totaled 37 as of mid-2011. Requirements vary among the states, but typically applicants for licensure must be at least 18 years of age, pass a criminal background check, and meet the educational and testing requirements set by the state in which they intend to practice.

As part of the licensure process, a number of states require applicants to attain certification sponsored by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). To obtain more detailed information on each state's licensing requirements for the radiologic technologist occupation, the ARRT lists contact information for the states that do require licensure on its website under ARRT State Licensing.

Before beginning your studies to become a radiologic technologist, you should contact your state's licensing board to determine if there are any licensing or regulatory requirements that you may need to meet in order to practice as a radiologic technician in the state.

In states that do not require ARRT certification for licensing, or that have no licensure or registration requirements at all, attainment of this credential is voluntary although still highly valued by employers. More information regarding ARRT certification is available on their website under ARRT Certification.

Each of the radiologic technologist specialty careers in imaging or treatment - mentioned earlier - also will have their own particular licensing requirements and certification options, which are described under their career profiles.

Some Key Things to Remember: Radiologic technologists work under the direction of radiologists and use radiation-emitting equipment to perform diagnostic imaging exams, including computed tomography (CT), mammograms, and other kinds of medical imaging procedures. They also may conduct non-radiologic diagnostic tests using ultrasound scanning (i.e., sonography) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

A two-year associate's degree in radiologic science from an accredited postsecondary education and training program is the most common form of education attainment for entry-level radiologic technologists. The majority of states regulate the occupation of radiologic technologist by requiring licensing or registration.

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Job Growth and Wages
Percent Job Growth:  
9% - Average
Typical Wages (National):  
Annual: $46,490 - $70,430    Hourly: $22 - $34
Physical/Medical/Health Requirements

Physical stamina is important in this occupation because radiologic technologists are on their feet for long periods and often lift or turn disabled patients.

Legal Requirements
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Career Snapshot

Typical Education:

Associate's Degree (High School + 2 or more Years)
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Percent Job Growth:

9% - Average
Find Jobs

Typical Wages:

Annual: $46,490 - $70,430

Hourly: $22 - $34