How to Become a Radiology Technician

If you want to become a radiology technician, some research of the profession and its opportunities is well worth your while. The radiology technician's job relates directly to some of the most advanced modern diagnostic methods tools. 

Education

Formal training and certification is the baseline industry standard for employment in the industry.

Entry level: High school diploma, including preferably biology, physics, chemistry and mathematics. Applicants from other areas in the health industry may also qualify for admission.

Formal Qualifications include:

  • Certificate level accreditation
  • Associate degree
  • Bachelor's degree
  • Master's degree

Training

Training is both practical and academic. Subjects include:

  • Physiology
  • Anatomy
  • Patient care
  • Radiological practices
  • Radiation practices and safety procedures
  • Imaging techniques and procedures
  • Ethics
  • Pathology
  • Medical terms

Licensing

In the US 40 states require licensing for practicing radiology technicians. Licensing is based on Federal standards, but the states may impose requirements for licensing and renewal of licenses.

Certification

The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) has a standard of voluntary certification, and administers examinations for licensing to 35 states. The ARRT certification is a benchmark standard for employment in the industry. 24 hours of continuing education every 2 years is required for re-certification.

The work environment

The workload can be heavy, and continuous, in some forms of employment. Clinical radiology technicians are often fully employed throughout the day in this work. The nature of the work is highly technical and involves specific imaging requirements decided by doctors and clinical physicians. Because radiological imaging is so important to proper diagnosis, quality of work is a major issue. The radiology technician is responsible for:

  • Correctly locating and imaging the area for diagnosis
  • Ensuring proper conduct of the imaging process
  • Quality of imaging results must be sufficient for accurate diagnosis

Primary skills:

  • Excellent interpersonal skills: Radiology technicians must be sensitive to patient needs.

  • Good manual skills: Operation of equipment often requires sensitive manual functions

  • Mechanical ability: Equipment operation may require mechanical work.

  • Systems familiarity: Increasingly as new systems and technologies come on to the market, systems familiarity is required for best results.

  • Communications: Radiology technicians must communicate technical and diagnosis related information clearly.

Opportunities in radiology

Radiology technicians can extend their career and employment options considerably by obtaining additional qualifications in other areas of imaging such as:

  • CT scanning
  • MRI
  • Angiography

The career environment

Radiology technicians have several options for career progression to management level. The primary requirements for these career paths. are experience in all aspects of radiological imaging at a high professional level of expertise, and additional qualifications for business management and administration.

The nature of the additional qualifications is decided by the career path:

  • Clinical work within an organization: Usually specialized clinical work in an existing radiology business.

  • Clinical operation as a self employed business: Requires business qualifications and may involve significant capital outlay.

  • Hospital sector radiology: These positions are very highly qualified at the upper levels of the sector, requiring high level management qualifications. At minimum, radiology technicians require a Masters Degree for management jobs.

Radiological imaging is a service very much in demand throughout the health care industry at all levels of medical practice. It's also a high growth area for a range of jobs, involving an anticipated 15% increase in industry employment in the coming decade.