National Radiologic Technologist Career Outlook
Today, the Radiologic Technologist Career Outlook is extremely strong as the healthcare industry continues to rely on the specialty services they provide. Radiologic Technologists, aka X Ray Technicians, operate imaging technology, like X-rays and mammograms, and accurately positioning patients to produce these diagnostic images. From there, these images will be provided to healthcare providers, such as Physicians or Surgeons, to use in diagnosing patient conditions. Due to the importance of their work and an increase in demand, approximately 30,000 radiologic technology positions are expected to open over the next decade in the United States.
In these roles, Radiologic Technologists — also known as “RTs” — can expect to earn between $48,600 and $97,460 annually. This translates to an hourly range of between $23 and $48 per hour. While these statistics represent national averages, the top paying states for this occupation are California, Hawaii, District of Columbia, Massachusetts and Oregon. Sonographers aspiring to increase their annual wages should consider relocating to one of these states. Overall, X Ray Techs are among the highest paid healthcare professionals for whom a two-year degree is commonly accepted.
As technological advancements continue to improve the quality of imaging devices, X Ray Technicians are able to help patients better address symptoms with early detection. These advancements have led radiology equipment to become more efficient, generate less heat and become smaller and more easily transportable in the process. There has also been an increasing demand for radiologic technology due to the method serving as an alternative to invasive surgery.
Among the list of fastest growing medical careers, Radiology Technologists have become essential staff members at hospitals, offices, clinics and other healthcare facilities. Reflecting this demand, the employment of Radiologic Technologists is projected to grow 14 percent! For comparison, the average growth rate for all occupations rests at just 7 percent.
Making up these employment statistics are both full-time and part-time opportunities. Furthermore, these opportunities are impacted by the state in which a professional resides. States employing the greatest number of these X Ray Techs are California, Florida, Texas, New York and Pennsylvania. Alternatively, the states with the highest concentration of jobs and location quotients in this occupation are South Dakota, West Virginia, Rhode Island, Arkansas and Kentucky.
To enter this non-invasive career in healthcare, prospective Radiologic Technicians should pursue either an associate degree or bachelor’s degree through an accredited state program. Often these are completed through an accredited hospital-based program or a two- or four-year educational program at an academic institution.Typically, a certificate program will take one year to complete, an associate’s degree will take two years and a bachelor’s degree will take approximately four years to obtain. Many states have specific licensure laws, which can be identified by contacting a state licensing board or the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT).
Finding the Right Radiologic Technologist Program
Once enrolled in a Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) approved radiologic technology program, students will learn the concepts and skills needed to succeed in this field. Therefore most curriculum’s include courses on computed tomography, oncology, mammography, fluoroscopy and radiography, equipment protocols, radiation safety, radiation protection and basic patient care. Many programs additionally seek to ensure that its students are prepared for the many functions of office environments as well.
Here are some of the essential questions to ask before selecting a radiologic technology program:
- Is the program accredited by ASRT?
- If the program is not accredited by ASRT, are graduates still eligible to take the ASRT certification examinations?
- What is the certification examination pass rate of students who have graduated from this program?
- What is the cost and length of the program?
- What degree is awarded upon completing the program?
- What percentage of graduates achieves employment in radiologic technology within six months of completion?
Currently, there are a number of different specializations pertaining to radiologic technology. X Ray Techs certified in more than one specialty can expect to experience the best opportunities. Through passing a continued education examination, specialty options include focus on bone densitometry, mammography, the vascular system, education principles and more.
Continuing Qualifications Requirements (CQR) also includes new, long-term requirement for X Ray Technologists to maintain their credentials, developed by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). The three steps of CQR are building a professional profile, taking a structured self-assessment and completing prescribed continued education courses.
What Does a Radiologic Technologist Do?
In the field, X-Ray Techs are responsible for accurately positioning patients and ensuring that a quality diagnostic image is produced. Working alongside Radiologists, the Physicians who is tasked with directly interpreting medical images, images are used to diagnose or rule out disease or injury. Each imaging examination must be performed properly by the practicing Radiologic Technologist to ensure that the images to be interpreted correctly by the supervising Radiologist.
Ultimately, radiologic technology can be an essential tool when diagnosing tumors, masses, blot clots and other conditions within the abdomen, breast, heart and blood vessels or of musculoskeletal nature. They can also help Physicians and Surgeons recognize the difference between normal and abnormal tissues throughout the body.
Image quality has also been dramatically improved through more precise equipment settings. However operating radiologic technology equipment still takes a lot of training and practice in order to be done correctly. Today, healthcare favors solutions which are cost and time efficient, pushing ultrasound into the point-of-care setting, making x ray technology ideal.
Employment as a Radiologic Technologist
Also important to consider when seeking employment in this occupation are the specific industries which employ the highest number of Radiologic Technicians. This includes general medical and surgical hospitals, the offices of Physicians, medical and diagnostic laboratories, outpatient care centers and the Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation).Then, the industry with the highest concentration of X Ray Techs is reported to be medical and diagnostic laboratories, followed by general medical and surgical hospitals, Physician offices, outpatient care centers and specialty hospitals.
Other possible avenues for employment may arise in administrative and support services, colleges and universities, ambulatory care services and temporary health services. Most employers of these healthcare professionals tend to offer employee benefits like insurance, holiday pay and paid time off.
To identify open positions, Radiologic Technologists are encouraged to check job boards, network with healthcare professionals and connect with members of radiologic technology associations and organizations. Some key professional groups in this industry include The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists and The American Society of Radiologic Technologists, along with the American Association of Medical Dosimetrists, Association for Medical Imaging Management, American Society for Radiation Oncology and the International Society of Radiographers and Radiological Technologists.
Why Medical Imaging is Such a Reward Career
Through these connections, prospective Radiologic Technologists will witness the reward associated with this Medical Imaging and Diagnostic Career. Being able to help patients prioritize their health and reach successful, potentially life-saving outcomes is satisfying and extremely fulfilling. In this career there exists the opportunity for ultrasound career development and the satisfaction of working as part of a dedicated team of medical professionals.
Working with a wide array of medical cases also enables X Ray Techs to help many people of all ages. They rely on their radiologic technology and the operating Radiologic Technologist to guide them through the imaging experience while providing a sense of ease. A successful Radiologic Technologist will utilize their skills of compassion and care together to meet goals. At the end of the day, whether an X Ray Tech wants to advance their career for prove their effectiveness, continuous dedication to education is key.
Overall, now is a great time to become a Radiologic Technologist! A Radiologic Technician career is something to be proud of. If you aspire to work in healthcare, help make a difference in patients’ lives and constantly keep learning and evolving as a professional, you will love a career in x ray technology!
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018-19 Occupational Outlook Handbook