Info on Becoming a CAT Scan Machine Technician

Oct 20, 2021

Learn how to become a CAT scan machine technician. Explore the education and certification criteria required for starting a career as a CAT scan machine technician.

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CAT Scan Technicians

A computer-axial tomography (CAT) scan is a series of X-rays that capture images from several different angles inside the body. This procedure provides much more diagnostic information than typical X-rays. CAT scan technicians are the diagnostic professionals who perform this procedure. They spend many hours standing and need the physical strength necessary to lift or move patients. This job involves some exposure to radiation, but safety precautions and protective gear greatly minimize the hazard.

Career Skills & Salary

Degree Level Associate's degree
Degree Name Radiologic technology
Licensure and Certification Certification through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) may be necessary for state licensure
Key Skills Strong communication and organizational skills; detail-oriented; math skills; technical skills to operate complex machinery; physical stamina
Median Salary (2018)* $59,520 (for all radiologic technologists)

*Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); (October 2012)

CAT scan technicians are detail-oriented, organized professionals with good math skills and the ability to operate complex machinery. As of November 2016, CAT scan technnologists earned a median annual salary of nearly $64,000, according to

Step 1: Associate's Degree

The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) accredits associate's degree programs for CAT scan technicians and MRI technologists. Bachelor's degree and graduate certificate programs are also available. Associate's degree programs in radiologic technology typically include courses in human anatomy and physiology, pathology, and radiation physics. Students also learn how to care for patients, evaluate images, and protect both themselves and patients from radiation. Instruction takes place both in classroom and clinical environments. Graduates will be prepared for certification and career opportunities upon completion.

Success Tip:

Start preparing in high school. Aspiring CAT scan technicians can start preparing for their careers in high school by taking classes in human anatomy and biology, chemistry, and physics.

Step 2: Certification

Most hospitals require that radiologic technicians be certified with the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Some states require them to have a license. After students have completed an accredited radiology program, they must comply with the ARRT's ethical standards requirements and pass a certification exam. Radiologic technicians must register annually and complete continuing education classes to remain a registered technician. This registration is often a requirement for maintaining employment.

Step 3: CAT Certificate

Graduates of a radiologic technology program must pursue additional education specific to CAT scans through a certificate program. The increased radiation emitted by this form of X-ray requires extra training. Students take advanced courses in how to use a CAT scan machine safely, ensuring they are sufficiently prepared to care for their patients. These programs can usually be completed in two semesters.

Success Tip:

Consider CAT certification. After completing a certificate program, graduates can take the ARRT certification exam for CAT scan technicians. While not required to work in the field, it can demonstrate that a technician meets standards within the profession and may lead to job possibilities and opportunities for career advancement.

Remember, CAT scan technicians need an associate's degree in radiologic technology from a program that has been approved by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) and a certificate specific to the field. In May 2018, the median yearly salary for a CAT scan technologist was about $59,520.

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