Radiology Tech: Educational Requirements

Oct 20, 2021

As a radiology tech (or radiologic technician), you'll use specialized medical equipment to take x-rays and perform other diagnostic tests on patients to detect internal injuries and other issues. It's a key role in providing the diagnosis needed to determine a course of action for medical treatment. Although you won't be responsible for interpreting the results of your tests, you'll work closely with doctors and other health care professionals to make sure your patients get the best care possible. If this sounds like the job for you, keep reading to find out how to become a radiology tech.

Key Information About Radiologic Technicians

2018 Median Pay $61,240 per year
Projected Job Growth (2016-2026) 13% (higher than average)
Required Education Associates degree
Additional Training Internship/residency
Additional Licensing State licensure or certification

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Educational Requirements of a Radiology Tech?

A typical radiologic technician's education includes a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree or similar from an accredited program. Specialized radiology techs may go on to earn their bachelor's degree as well, but most start their career after earning their AAS. There are quite a few radiologic technician programs available at colleges, universities, and other organizations across the country. You may even see options for online radiology training. It is important to note, however, that this job is a very hands-on position, and it will be unlikely to meet a radiologic technician's requirements without some form of clinical work. Here are some options for radiologic technician education programs.

Which Courses Will You Take to Become a Radiology Tech?

A typical radiological technician's education is both technical and people-oriented. You'll learn to operate highly complex medical devices as well as work one-on-one with patients. You'll be trained to properly align a patient's body to get comprehensive images while minimizing overexposure to radiation. You'll also be trained to communicate effectively with doctors and other health care professionals. Courses vary from school to school, but common topics include:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Math
  • Radiographic procedures
  • Radiation physics
  • Writing and oral communication
  • Advanced imaging procedures
  • Patient care
  • Clinical applications
  • Psychology
  • Medical terminology
  • Specialized imaging such as ultrasound
  • Radiographic safety

Although these classes won't qualify you to become a radiology technician, there are also opportunities to further your radiography education with a selection of free, online courses in radiology from well-known colleges.

Are There Other Radiologic Technician Requirements?

Once you receive your degree, most states will also require state licensure or certification before you can apply for a position. This type of regulation is common to make sure that radiology techs have the proper training as overexposure to radiation can be extremely harmful. States may choose to administer the certification exam themselves, or they may use another certifying agent like the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Even if your state doesn't require certification, your new employer might, so it may be a wise route.

What Type of Person Makes a Good Radiology Tech?

Not everyone is cut out for a job in the medical field. You'll need to be incredibly detail-oriented while still connecting personally with the people around you. Depending on what type of radiology tech you become, emergencies may require you to take x-rays on severely injured people. It will be your job to remain calm and provide comfort while making sure your images capture the necessary information to provide proper medical care.

Common qualities of successful radiological technicians include:

  • Communication - you'll work closely with patients, doctors, and others to provide the best care. The ability to discuss images with doctors succinctly but also give instructions to patients while conducting exams is essential.
  • Empathy - many of your patients may be experiencing serious health concerns. You need to perform your job with understanding, patience, and reassurance to provide quality care.
  • Stamina - radiology jobs will require you to move and carefully position patients to image specific body parts, and you'll be standing during most of it.
  • Technical skills - a solid understanding of how to operate complicated diagnostic imaging machines is fundamental to the job.
  • A Strong Stomach - you'll need to be comfortable with working in a medical environment that may involve injuries, sick patients, and other situations.
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