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Radiologic Tech

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What is a Radiologic Tech?

Radiologic technology is the art and science of taking images using radiation. A radiologic tech is the health professional who's responsible for taking those images. This role is sometimes referred to as an X-ray tech.

There are several types of image technology, each of which utilizes a professional with the specific skill set needed to use the equipment. This includes MRI tech, CT tech, nuclear medicine Tech, and mammography tech. While each of these positions is responsible for getting clear images, they use different technology and equipment to accomplish the task.

The job of a radiologic tech is not for everyone. As with any job, there are pros and cons to the position and education requirements that help to advance your career.

What does a Radiologic Tech Do?

On a day-to-day basis, a radiologic tech uses X-rays to take images of specific parts of a patient's body. The radiologic tech will also help prepare a patient for the test, placing them in the correct position and operating the equipment.

They work with physicians and patients of all ages. Radiologic techs can specialize in a variety of areas, including computed tomography (CT tech), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI tech), mammography tech, nuclear medicine tech, and densitometry tech. Some of the common daily tasks include:

  • Assessing and evaluating patients
  • Preparing patients for X-rays or other types of  imaging
  • Applying radiation protection and safety practices for themselves and their patients
  • Independently taking images or assisting a healthcare provider in procedures, including administration of radiation to cancer patients
  • Ensuring the images are clear
  • Documenting activities according to state and federal regulations

What skills does a Radiologic Tech need?

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What skills does a Radiologic Tech need?

A radiologic tech requires the right mix of personality and skill to be a success. They work within a medical environment and collaborate with other healthcare providers to diagnose disease or trauma. The technology of imaging has advanced dramatically in the past 10 years and is increasingly replacing the need for invasive procedures. Some of the skills necessary for radiologic techs include:

Examination: Radiologic techs take part in several aspects of patient examinations, including positioning the patient, conducting the scan, ensuring safe conditions, and recording data in the patient's chart.

Communication: Radiologic techs must be comfortable communicating with patients and other members of the healthcare team. Nervous patients may need comfort. Radiology technicians must be able to interpret nonverbal cues that may offer further clues to the patient's condition.

Computer skills: Nearly all imaging technologies utilize computers to direct the equipment. Radiologic techs must also be comfortable with computerized communication systems and electronic health records.

Technology: Some radiologic techs are responsible for maintaining and calibrating the equipment. Having an aptitude for technological and mechanical skills can help ensure safety and improve the quality of the images.

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Radiologic Techs

Work settings for Radiologic Techs

Radiologic techs have the opportunity to work part-time or full-time. Most techs must work evenings, weekends, or on-call hours to meet patient needs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 57% of radiologic techs work in hospitals, 18% work in medical and diagnostic laboratories, and the remainder work in private offices or outpatient care clinics. Those who have specialized, such as MRI techs, CT techs, or nuclear medicine techs, frequently work in hospital environments.

Common Cases Radiologic Techs Encounter

Radiologic techs encounter a variety of medical, surgical, and traumatic cases. MRI and CT techs may work with patients who are undergoing tests to diagnose cancer, evaluate an injury, or provide a clear picture of abnormal tissue. Nuclear medicine techs use small amounts of radioactive material to analyze how internal organs are functioning or get a clear view of tissues, bones, and other structures.

Radiologic techs may work with patients who have undergone significant trauma, are being evaluated for broken bones, or determine the presence of a solid tumor. X-rays are used to identify blockages in the gastrointestinal tract, look for foreign objects, or are used as routine screening for cancer and other diseases.

How to Become A Radiologic Tech

Individuals who would like to become radiologic techs should have a strong foundation in math, science, critical thinking, and communication. High School classes that support your education include biology, physics, algebra, chemistry, anatomy, and physiology.

To take the ARRT certification exam, you must have at least earned an associate's degree. Many states require radiologic techs to be licensed and some have stricter policies than others. After completing one to two years in an entry-level position, you may want to consider advancing your career by specializing.

How to Advance Your Career As A Radiologic Tech

Radiologic techs have several options to advance their career. You may choose to earn additional certifications in other areas, such as MRI tech, CT Tech, and mammography. With additional experience and training, you may choose to move into an administrative or managerial role. Radiology techs who enjoy teaching may move on to become clinical instructors.

Education Requirements & Helpful Certification

Radiologic techs must have a strong understanding of anatomy, examination techniques, and radiation safety and protection. Hospitals prefer radiology techs to complete a 2-year Associate of Applied Science degree in Radiologic Technology. It is critical the program you choose is accredited by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) or the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology.

Accreditation ensures that the program you attend meets specific standards and allows you to take a certification examination administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. Depending on where you live, radiologic techs may be required to meet other state licensure requirements to practice.

Average Salary For Radiologic Techs

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for radiologic tech is $66,490 and the median hourly wage is 31.97. There is a strong Outlook with a 6% anticipated growth rate until 2031. California has the highest employment rate and the highest annual mean wage.

The state also has the top 10 highest-paying metropolitan areas. It is important to note that California also has a high cost of living. States with the highest concentration of jobs include West Virginia, South Dakota, and North Dakota.

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Travel Radiologic Tech 101

Interested in a travel Radiologic Tech career? Here’s all you need to get started.

What is Travel Nurse?

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What is a Radiologic Tech?

Further Travel Healthcare Resources

Here are some broad resources to help you in your travel healthcare career, applicable to Allied health roles as well as travel nursing.

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