The healthcare field has seen massive growth over the last few years. In fact, it’s on track to grow by 14 percent (that’s much faster than average) between 2018 and 2028.
Are you interested in seeking out a job in this industry? Do you want a career that doesn’t require you to spend almost a decade in medical school?
If you answered “yes” to these questions, you may want to consider working as a radiologic technologist. Read on to learn everything you need to know about this exciting career path.
What is a Radiologic Technologist?
A radiologic technologist (or rad tech for short) is someone who’s responsible for taking images of patients. They use various pieces of radiologic equipment to do this, including x-ray machines, MRI (short for magnetic resonance imaging) machines, mammography machines, and CT (short for computed tomography) scanners.
What Do They Do?
In addition to positioning the patient and taking the images of them, radiologic technologists perform a variety of other important activities.
For example, it’s their job to prepare the patient for the scan. This includes explaining what’s going to happen and making sure they remove any jewelry or clothing that could interfere with the scan.
Rad techs are not the ones who diagnose injuries, illnesses, or medical conditions based on the images they take. However, they play an important role in making sure the images are clear and that the patient is positioned in a way that allows their doctor to make accurate diagnoses.
It’s common for a rad tech to specialize in a particular type of imaging. They may only take x-rays or mammograms, for example, depending on where they work.
Why Become One?
There are lots of reasons why you might want to pursue a career as a rad tech. Some of the greatest benefits of this job include the following:
Less Time in School
For most positions, all you need to work as a rad tech is an Associate’s degree, which only takes two years (on average) to earn. This is way less time than you’d spend if you wanted to become a nurse or a doctor.
Significant Job Growth
The whole medical field is growing at a rapid rate, but this is especially true for rad techs. If you want to have lots of job opportunities available to you, this is a good career to start pursuing.
Though they don’t spend a ton of time in school, rad techs can still earn a good salary. The median salary for a rad tech is $61,540. That’s not too bad for just two years of schooling.
To attract more people to their open positions, many hospitals and medical practices offer generous benefits packages. You’ll likely get great healthcare coverage and other appealing benefits, such as paid time off and vacations.
As a rad tech, you have a lot of autonomy. You won’t have someone breathing down your neck all day, and you’ll get to spend a lot of time alone while still being a valuable part of a team.
How to Become One
The process of becoming a rad tech is much simpler than a lot of other healthcare careers. The specific requirements you need to meet will vary from state to state. In general, though, you’ll need to take the following steps:
Start by finding a school in your area that offers a rad tech program. Many universities offer such a program, as do community colleges and technical schools. The latter two options might be a better fit for you since they tend to be more affordable.
Obtain Your License
Once your training is complete, you’ll need to pass a test to obtain your license. Each state has different requirements that students must complete in addition to the test, so reach out to the licensing board to ensure you meet all their criteria.
Conduct a Job Search
At this point, it’s time to conduct a job search. Because the field is growing so quickly, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding openings. Talk to the guidance counselor at your school or your instructors to learn about other openings or get letters of recommendation.
Essential Traits and Skills
There are certain traits that make some people more suitable for this position than others. You may want to consider whether or not you have the following traits and skills before deciding to pursue this career:
- Attention to detail to ensure patients are positioned in the proper way
- Good technical skills so they can use machines correctly and adjust when new machines or programs are brought in
- Stamina, as rad techs often spend most of their days on their feet and helping to move patients into the proper position
- An ability to adjust to new situations and be flexible when working long shifts or working at unfavorable hours
If this sounds like you, you’re probably a good fit to work as a rad tech.
What Happens After You’ve Got the Job?
Once you’ve completed your training and found a job as a radiologic technologist, the hard stuff isn’t totally over. You’ll also have to make sure your earn a sufficient number of CE credits for radiologic technologists.
During every two-year period, you must earn 24 continuing education credits. There are lots of online courses you can utilize to earn these credits while still working full-time.
You also have a lot of flexibility when it comes to the types of courses you take, so you can find options that interest you and fit your particular career path best.
Start Becoming a Radiologic Technologist Today
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why you may want to consider becoming a radiologic technologist. Do the benefits of this job appeal to you? Does the path to working in the field seem reasonable?
If you want to start your career as a radiologic technologist, follow the steps outlined above.
Don’t forget to check out the Professional section of our website today to learn more about this and other exciting medical careers. You’ll also find lots of advice on how to get hired once your schooling is finished.