Radiologic Technician

Cat Scanner Operator, Chief Technician, X-Ray (Chief Tech, X-Ray)   More Names
Computed Tomography Scanner Operator, Computed Tomography Technician (CT Technician), Document Imaging Technician, EEG Technician (Electroencephalographic Technician), EKG Tech (Electrocardiographic Technician), Electroneurodiagnostic Technician (ENDT), Limited Radiology Technician, Mammography Technician, Medical Imaging Technician, Radiography Technician, Radiologic Technician (RT), Radiologic Technicians, Radiological Technician, Radiology Aide, Radiology Assistant, Radiology Technician (Radiology Tech), Registered Radiographer, Special Procedures Technician, X Ray Operator, X-Ray Technician (X-Ray Tech)
Description

Use radiation-emitting equipment to produce x-ray images of the tissues, organs, bones, and vessels of the human body for use in diagnosing medical disease or injury. Perform imaging examinations under the direction of radiologists.

Radiographers (the profession's preferred name for radiologic technicians) prepare patients for radiography exams and conform to rules concerning the use of radiation to protect themselves, their patients, and their coworkers from unnecessary exposure. Produce images by processing exposed film or by using computerized systems to capture data and produce digital files. Radiographers are employed in hospitals, specialized diagnostic imaging centers, urgent care clinics, and private physicians' offices. Some also work for imaging centers of local, state, or federal government agencies.

Radiographers work under the direction of radiologists and also in response to orders of physicians and surgeons to produce x-ray images (radiographs) of parts of the human body for use in diagnosing medical or injury problems. 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.

Before patients arrive radiographer's set-up and prepare the x-ray room, obtaining any needed supplies. When patients arrive, they get them ready for their radiologic examinations by explaining the procedure, ensuring that patients have removed jewelry and other articles through which x- rays will not pass, and then positioning them properly for the x-rays will be produced.

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

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

Radiographers apply knowledge of anatomy, physiology, positioning, radiographic technique, and radiation effects 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 are adaptable to the particular conditions of patients.

While radiation hazards exist in this occupation, they are minimized by the use of lead aprons, gloves, and other shielding devices, and by instruments that monitor exposure to radiation. Radiographers also wear badges that measure radiation levels and keep detailed records on their cumulative lifetime dosage.

Physical stamina is important in this occupation because radiologic technicians are on their feet for long periods and often lift or turn disabled patients. While they principally work with fixed-position diagnostic x-ray machines, they also may perform certain procedures at patients' bedsides using portable equipment. Some also work with in mobile units that travel to patients in large vans equipped with diagnostic equipment.

Radiographers can be viewed as an entry-level, first step on the radiology career ladder that can include becoming a radiologic technologist as next step.

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, as does Radiologic Technologist. On the Radiation Oncology Team, the most commonly recognized radiologic technologist specialty is the Radiation Therapist, who is clinically trained to use radiation therapy to help treat cancer and other diseases. This Oncology Team specialty also has its own separate career profile on this website.

Credentials Needed: Most states regulate the occupation of radiographer by requiring licensing or registration. The 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 the radiography certification sponsored by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). To obtain more detailed information on each state's licensing requirements for the radiographer career, the ARRT lists contact information for the states that do require licensure on its website under ARRT State Licensing.

In states that do not require ARRT radiography 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 the ARRT radiography certification is available on their website under ARRT Certification.

Before beginning your studies to become a radiographer, you should contact your state's licensing board to determine if there are any licensing or regulatory requirements, and if there are, exactly what you need to do in order to practice as a radiographer in the state.

Some Key Things to Remember: Radiographers use radiation equipment to produce x-ray images of the tissues, organs, bones, and vessels of the human body for use in diagnosing medical disease or injury. They conduct these imaging examinations as ordered by physicians and surgeons, under the direction of radiologists. A two-year associate's degree in radiography from an accredited postsecondary education and training program is the most common form of education required of entry-level radiographers. Most states regulate the occupation of radiographer by requiring licensing or registration.

More Details
Job Growth and Wages
Percent Job Growth:  
23% - Much faster than average
Typical Wages (National):  
Annual: $32,460 - $55,550    Hourly: $16 - $27
Physical/Medical/Health Requirements

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

Legal Requirements
General/Nationwide
State-Specific
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(Data Drawn from O*NET)
 
      

Career Snapshot

Typical Education:

Associate's Degree (High School + 2 or more Years)
Find Programs

Percent Job Growth:

23% - Much faster than average
Find Jobs

Typical Wages:

Annual: $32,460 - $55,550

Hourly: $16 - $27