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How to Become a Radiology Tech

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How to Become a Radiology Tech: A Step-By-Step Guide

If you’ve ever considered pursuing a career in the healthcare industry, you may have come across the fascinating field of radiology technology. This dynamic career path is not only essential for diagnosing and treating a variety of medical conditions, but it also offers a unique combination of technical and interpersonal skills that make it attractive for individuals with diverse interests and talents.

Radiology techs play an important role in healthcare, and their expertise allows healthcare professionals to accurately diagnose illnesses and injuries, leading to better patient outcomes and improved overall healthcare quality.

For those who are passionate about healthcare and are seeking a rewarding career that combines both technical and human elements, becoming a radiology tech might be the perfect fit. In this guide, Soliant career experts break down everything you need to know about how to become a radiology tech, including salary information, education requirements, and more.

What is a Radiology Tech?

A radiology technologist, also known as a radiologic technologist or radiographer, is a healthcare professional who specializes in the use of medical imaging equipment to produce images of the body’s internal structures. They play a crucial role in the diagnosis and treatment of various medical conditions by producing high-quality, accurate images of a patient’s bones, tissues, and blood vessels using machines such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.

Radiology technologists typically specialize in one area or discipline of imaging, such as sonography, MRI, CT, mammography, nuclear medicine, and radiation therapy. It is not uncommon for radiology techs to specialize in multiple areas. Specialized radiology techs may be in positions specifically related to their specialization, such as CT technologists or MRI technologists.

What Does a Radiology Tech Do?

The main goal of a radiology technologist is to provide accurate images and collaborate with other medical professionals to correctly diagnose a patient. However, many patients find imaging machines to be intimidating or scary, meaning an important responsibility of radiology technologists is to ensure that patients are comfortable, calm, and informed during the scanning process.

Radiology technologists work closely with radiologists, physicians, and other healthcare professionals to ensure the accurate interpretation of images and provide the best possible care for patients. In addition to operating imaging equipment, radiology technologists are responsible for patient safety, positioning, and comfort during imaging procedures.

They are responsible for the regular maintenance and care of the imaging equipment, ensuring that it is clean, functioning properly, and calibrated according to industry standards, as well as implementing radiation safety measures to protect patients, themselves, and other healthcare workers from unnecessary radiation exposure.

What is an interventional radiology technologist?

A highly specialized branch of radiology, interventional radiology utilizes advanced imaging techniques, such as X-rays, for minimally invasive, image-guided procedures that can diagnose, treat, and cure various conditions. The primary role of an interventional radiology technologist is to assist interventional radiologists in performing these procedures, in addition to setting up and operating the equipment.

What is the difference between a radiologist and a radiology tech?

While both radiologists and radiology techs are vital in the medical imaging process and work together closely, radiologists are medical doctors responsible for interpreting images and diagnosing conditions, while radiology techs are responsible for operating the equipment and performing the imaging procedures.

How to Become a Radiology Tech

  1. Education
    • Education requirements for radiology technologists vary by state, but an associate’s degree is the education typically required for radiology technologists. However, while not required, many radiology techs obtain a bachelor’s degree to increase their chances of being hired. 
  2. Clinical Experience
    • Most radiologic technology programs will include classroom experience and clinical work, where you will gain hands-on experience working with patients and using radiologic equipment. This practical experience is essential in preparing you for your career as a radiology technologist.
  3. Certifications & Licensure
    • Upon completion of your radiologic technology program, you will need to pass the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification exam. This exam covers topics such as patient care, radiation safety, image production, and procedures. Passing the exam demonstrates your competency in the field and is required for licensure in most states.
    • Once you have your ARRT certification, check your state’s specific requirements for radiology techs and obtain that necessary licensure. Keep in mind that this may involve additional exams, background checks, and fingerprinting.
  4. Consider a Speciality
    • To gain an edge in the job market, many radiology technicians choose to pursue more than one field of imaging, which requires multiple licenses. For a full list of the skills and competencies required for such a role, check out our radiology technician skills list.

How long does it take to become a radiology tech?

The path to becoming a radiology tech looks different for everyone; however, it typically takes about 2 to 4 years to become a radiology tech, depending on the education and certification route chosen.

An associate degree program is the most common education path radiology techs pursue, and this takes about 2 years to complete. Some individuals may choose to complete a bachelor’s degree program, which takes approximately 4 years.

How Much Does a Radiology Tech Make?

The average radiology tech salary varies depending on a handful of factors, including the job location and area cost of living, the experience and education of the tech, the responsibilities of the role, and more. However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for radiologic technologists and technicians is $73,410.

In addition, the overall employment of radiologic and MRI technologists is projected to grow 6% from 2022 to 2032, which is faster than the average for all occupations. This translates to about 15,700 openings for radiologic and MRI technologists projected each year, on average, over the decade.

Where do radiology techs make the most money?

Radiology techs are more likely to have a higher salary in California. According to the BLS, below are the top five paying states for radiologic technologists and technicians and the annual mean wage in each state:

  1. California – $103,150
  2. Massachusetts – $93,270
  3. Hawaii – $92,170
  4. Oregon – $90,610
  5. Washington – $89,910

The highest-paying job settings for radiology techs include outpatient care centers, home health care services, and psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals.

Become a Radiology Tech Today

Whether you’re just starting to explore healthcare careers or are ready to dive right into the world of diagnostic imaging, Soliant has got you covered.

Demand is strong for professionals with radiology skills and training, and it’s expected to grow even faster in the years ahead. Soliant can help you take advantage of the rising demand by helping you find jobs and assignments that are perfect for you.

No one offers more radiology technologist jobs than Soliant. To embark on this exciting path to becoming a successful radiology tech, we invite you to explore Soliant’s wide range of high-quality radiologist technologist, CT technologist, interventional radiology technologist, MRI technologist, and medical imaging jobs today!