Radiology (Technologists/Technicians)

Earnings Potential

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual earnings of radiologic technologists and technicians were $43,350 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $36,170 and $52,430. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,020, while the highest ten 10 percent earned more than $60,210. The average incomes for industries employing the highest amount of radiologic technologists and technicians were $46,620 at medical and diagnostic laboratories and $43,960 at general medical and surgical hospitals. Those who worked in offices of physicians earned an average of $40,290.  

Facts at a glance

  • Radiologic technologists and technicians work with advanced equipment to help physicians, dentists and other doctors diagnose and treat patients.
  • There is a high level of job availability in the field, as many employers have noted difficulty in hiring an appropriate amount of technologists and technicians.
  • Training programs in the field take between one to four years to complete, and either lead to a certificate, an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree.
  • While most radiologic technologists and technicians work in hospitals, there has also been a new wave of positions at physician’s offices and diagnostic imaging centers.

Summary of what this career entails

The main objective of radiologic technologists and technicians (also referred to as radiographers) is to take x rays and administer nonradioactive materials into patients’ bloodstreams for diagnostic purposes. An X-ray film is placed under the part of the patient’s body to be examined, an exposure is taken and then developed. Some radiographers specialize in operating CT scanners, which produce cross-sectional images of patients, while others operate machines that use magents and radio waves to create MRI’s. In addition to taking x-rays, radiologic technologists and technicians also keep patient records and maintain the equipment. They can also create work schedules, handle purchases of equipment or manage a radiology department.

Examples and or details of work

Radiologic technologists and technicians mostly work at diagnostic machines, but can also perform some procedures at patients’ bedsides. Some of the work involves traveling in large vans equipped with sophisticated diagnostic equipment. The job comes with health risks due to radiation exposure, but is prevented through the use of lead aprons, gloves, and other shielding devices. There are also instruments used to monitor the exposure to radiation. Most full time radiographers work about 40 hours a week, and have been know to work evening, weekends or on-call hours. There are also part-time opportunities available.

Degrees that lead to this career

Programs for the positions are made available in hospitals, colleges, universities, vocational technical institutes as well as the U.S. Armed Forces. A bachelor’s or master’s degree in one of the radiologic technologies is encouraged for supervisory, administrative, or teaching positions. 1-year certificate programs are available for radiographers interested in changing fields or specializing in CT or MRI.

Specific Career openings in this field

Radiologic technologists and technicians can find positions in hospitals, as well as offices of physicians, medical laboratories, diagnostic imaging centers and outpatient care centers.

References

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition, Radiologic Technologists and Technicians, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos059.htm

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