the Work | Working Conditions | Employment | Training,
Other Qualifications, and Advancement | Job
Outlook | Earnings | Schools | Sources
of Additional Information
Radiology technologists and technicians take
xrays and administer nonradioactive materials into patients'
bloodstreams for diagnostic purposes. Some specialize in diagnostic
imaging technologies, such as computerized tomography (CT)
and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Radiology technologists and technicians, also
referred to as radiographers , produce xray films
(radiographs) of parts of the human body for use in diagnosing
medical problems. They prepare patients for radiology examinations
by explaining the procedure, removing articles such as jewelry,
through which xrays cannot pass, and positioning patients so
that the parts of the body can be appropriately radiographed.
To prevent unnecessary radiation exposure, these workers surround
the exposed area with radiation protection devices, such as
lead shields, or limit the size of the xray beam. Radiographers
position radiographic equipment at the correct angle and height
over the appropriate area of a patient's body. Using instruments
similar to a measuring tape, they may measure the thickness
of the section to be radiographed and set controls on the xray
machine to produce radiographs of the appropriate density,
detail, and contrast. They place the xray film under the part
of the patient's body to be examined and make the exposure.
They then remove the film and develop it.
Experienced radiographers may perform more
complex imaging procedures. For fluoroscopies, radiographers
prepare a solution of contrast medium for the patient to drink,
allowing the radiologist (a physician who interprets radiographs)
to see soft tissues in the body. Some radiographers, called CT
technologists, operate CT scanners to produce cross-sectional
images of patients. Radiographers who operate machines that
use strong magnets and radio waves, rather than radiation,
to create an image are called MRI technologists .
Radiology technologists and technicians must
follow physicians' orders precisely and conform to regulations
concerning the use of radiation to protect themselves, their
patients, and their coworkers from unnecessary exposure.
In addition to preparing patients and operating
equipment, radiology technologists and technicians keep patient
records and adjust and maintain equipment. They also may prepare
work schedules, evaluate equipment purchases, or manage a radiology
Most full-time radiology technologists and
technicians work about 40 hours a week; they may have evening,
weekend, or on-call hours. Opportunities for part-time and
shift work also are available.
Because technologists and technicians are
on their feet for long periods and may lift or turn disabled
patients, physical stamina is important. Technologists and
technicians work at diagnostic machines, but may also perform
some procedures at patients' bedsides. Some travel to patients
in large vans equipped with sophisticated diagnostic equipment.
Although radiation hazards exist in this occupation,
they are minimized by the use of lead aprons, gloves, and other
shielding devices, as well as by instruments monitoring radiation
exposure. Technologists and technicians wear badges measuring
radiation levels in the radiation area, and detailed records
are kept on their cumulative lifetime dose.
Radiology technologists and technicians held
about 174,000 jobs in 2002. Almost 1 in 5 worked part time.
About half of all jobs were in hospitals. Most of the rest
were in offices of physicians; medical and diagnostic laboratories,
including diagnostic imaging centers; and outpatient care centers.
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Preparation for this profession is offered
in hospitals, colleges and universities, vocational-technical
institutes, and the U.S. Armed Forces. Hospitals, which employ
most radiology technologists and technicians, prefer to hire
those with formal training.
Formal training programs in radiography range
in length from 1 to 4 years and lead to a certificate, associate
degree, or bachelor's degree. Two-year associate degree programs
are most prevalent.
Some 1-year certificate programs are available
for experienced radiographers or individuals from other health
occupations, such as medical technologists and registered nurses,
who want to change fields or specialize in CT or MRI. A bachelor's
or master's degree in one of the radiology technologies is
desirable for supervisory, administrative, or teaching positions.
The Joint Review Committee on Education in
Radiologic Technology accredits most formal training programs
for the field. The committee accredited 587 radiography programs
in 2003. Radiography programs require, at a minimum, a high
school diploma or the equivalent. High school courses in mathematics,
physics, chemistry, and biology are helpful. The programs provide
both classroom and clinical instruction in anatomy and physiology,
patient care procedures, radiation physics, radiation protection,
principles of imaging, medical terminology, positioning of
patients, medical ethics, radiobiology, and pathology.
Federal legislation protects the public from
the hazards of unnecessary exposure to medical and dental radiation
by ensuring operators of radiology equipment are properly trained.
Under this legislation, the Federal Government sets voluntary
standards that the States, in turn, may use for accrediting
training programs and certifying individuals who engage in
medical or dental radiography.
In 2003, about 38 States licensed radiology
technologists and technicians. Voluntary registration is offered
by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. To be
eligible for registration, technologists generally must have
graduated from an accredited program and pass an examination.
Many employers prefer to hire registered radiographers. To
be recertified, radiographers must complete 24 hours of continuing
education every other year.
Radiology technologists and technicians should
be sensitive to patients' physical and psychological needs.
They must pay attention to detail, follow instructions, and
work as part of a team. In addition, operating complicated
equipment requires mechanical ability and manual dexterity.
With experience and additional training, staff
technologists may become specialists, performing CT scanning,
angiography, and magnetic resonance imaging. Experienced technologists
also may be promoted to supervisor, chief radiology technologist,
and, ultimately, department administrator or director. Depending
on the institution, courses or a master's degree in business
or health administration may be necessary for the director's
position. Some technologists progress by leaving the occupation
to become instructors or directors in radiology technology
programs; others take jobs as sales representatives or instructors
with equipment manufacturers.
Job opportunities are expected to be favorable.
Some employers report difficulty hiring sufficient numbers
of radiology technologists and technicians. Imbalances between
the demand for, and supply of, qualified workers should spur
efforts to attract and retain qualified radiology technologists
and technicians. As an example of such efforts, employers may
provide more flexible training programs or improve compensation
and working conditions.
Radiology technologists who also are experienced
in more complex diagnostic imaging procedures, such as CT or
MRI, will have better employment opportunities, as employers
seek to control costs by using multiskilled employees.
Employment of radiology technologists and
technicians is expected to grow faster than the average for
all occupations through 2012, as the population grows and ages,
increasing the demand for diagnostic imaging. Although healthcare
providers are enthusiastic about the clinical benefits of new
technologies, the extent to which they are adopted depends
largely on cost and reimbursement considerations. For example,
digital imaging technology can improve quality and efficiency,
but remains expensive. Some promising new technologies may
not come into widespread use because they are too expensive
and third-party payers may not be willing to pay for their
Hospitals will remain the principal employer
of radiology technologists and technicians. However, a greater
number of new jobs will be found in offices of physicians and
diagnostic imaging centers. Health facilities such as these
are expected to grow rapidly through 2012, due to the strong
shift toward outpatient care, encouraged by third-party payers
and made possible by technological advances that permit more
procedures to be performed outside the hospital. Some job openings
also will arise from the need to replace technologists and
technicians who leave the occupation.
Median annual earnings of radiology technologists
and technicians were $38,970 in 2002. The middle 50 percent
earned between $32,370 and $46,510. The lowest 10 percent earned
less than $27,190, and the highest 10 percent earned more than
$55,430. Median annual earnings in the industries employing
the largest numbers of radiology technologists and technicians
in 2002 were as follows:
Medical and diagnostic laboratories
General medical and surgical hospitals
Offices of physicians
The radiology job market continues to be hot and radiology
jobs are plentiful.
Imaging Portal - RTstudents.com
has topical information pages for all radiology modalities.
Find information on mammography, cat scan, magnetic
resonance imaging, ultrasound, nuclear medicine and
more. You'll find radiology technicin forums, radiology technician job information,
daily radiology news and even radiology stock market
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medical imaging topics can be found just a few clicks