Radiologic technology is a field that allows professionals to play a role in diagnosing patient injuries or illnesses, and someone who aspires to be part of this field may wonder if it’s possible to become a radiologic technologist with an associate’s degree. The good news is that, while there are a few different paths towards becoming a radiologic technologist, earning an associate degree is probably the one most commonly used path. Here is some information on this career.
What is a Radiologic Technologist?
A radiologic technologist is a medical specialist who performs x-rays and similar diagnostic imaging exams on patients to help doctors diagnose injuries or illnesses. Radiologic technologists may appear to work independently, but they usually work under the supervision of a radiologist. Their duties include:
- Preparing patients for the exams
- Documenting medical history
- Answering patient questions regarding the procedure
- Adjusting and calibrating imaging equipment
- Positioning the patient to get the correct picture
- Operate the equipment to do the exam
- Maintain detailed patient records
- Collaborate with physicians regarding the images and if more need to be taken
- Ensure the patient is protected in areas unrelated to the image
Candidates interested in this career can complete an associate’s degree in radiologic technology. Some students may complete postsecondary education programs that result in bachelor’s degrees or certificates, but most radiologic technologists complete an associate’s degree. Students in the program complete courses in patient care, pathology, radiation physics and protection, anatomy, and image evaluation. The curriculum also includes an internship so the student can obtain hands-on learning in performing the imaging procedures correctly.
There are various areas in diagnostic imaging in which radiologic technologists can specialize, according to the American Society of Radiologic Technologists. These include the following.
- Computed Tomography Technology
- Bone Densitometry Technology
- Cardiac Interventional and Vascular Interventional Technology
- Magnetic Resonance Technology
- Nuclear Medicine Technology
- Quality Management Technology
Students who choose areas of specialization must become certified in each of the areas. Applicants enrolling in radiologic technology programs should choose programs that are accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology or the American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists if the wish to become MRI technologists.
Licensure is required of radiologic technologists in most of the states, although licensure requirements may vary from state to state. Most require that the radiologic technologist obtain certification by passing a state certification exam and a certification exam through a certifying agency such as the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. Information for specific states can be obtained through the state’s health board.
Career Outlook & Wage Potential
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that radiologic technologists could see a 12% growth in employment during the decade of 2016-2026, which could result in about 25,300 new positions available in this field by 2026. Magnetic resonance imaging technologists should experience a growth of 14%. The BLS reports that as of May 2017 radiologic technologists earned an average yearly salary of $60,320 and an hourly wage of $29. Wages for this occupation actually ranged from $39,840 to $84,110. Technologists with multiple certifications are typically in the high wage range.
Radiologic technology is a very popular career choice not just because of the positive employment growth or the many areas of specializations it offers but also because it allows individuals to be part of diagnosing patients, which is the first step towards maintaining good health. Knowing that it’s possible to become a radiologic technologist with an associate’s degree often makes it an easy decision to make.