Medical Imaging Career Information

Medical imaging workers use high-tech equipment to produce images of patients' internal organs and bone structures. These images are used by physicians and specialists in order to assist in diagnosing medical problems. There are several areas of specialization in this field. X-ray techs, or radiographers, use radioactive equipments in order to take images. MRI techs operate using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment that uses radio waves to produce images.

Working Conditions

Many medical imaging staff work in treatment rooms in hospitals or private clinics. They usually a lot of the day standing, and must help patients on and off examining tables. X-ray techs may be exposed to radiation, but the amount is carefully monitored and safety precautions, such as wearing protective clothing or operating equipment from behind a leaded barrier or in another room, help minimize the risk of exposure. Most medical imaging workers tend to work 8 hours a day, about 40 hours a week, often on a shift basis. In addition to their normal shifts, those who work in hospitals may have to work one weekend a month, and they may also be on-call when not working in-case something takes place.

When they are on-call, workers can be called into the hospital at any time of the night or day in order to deal with emergencies. Medical imaging staff work closely with doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, and other health care professionals. Some may also take part in surgery and special procedures. Working in this field may also require a lot of lifting of patients in order to take an image. Imaging staff also have to take images several times as technology does not work properly all the time, and this can become stressful, especially if you're on a deadline.

Education

High school courses such as science, biology, math, physics, and English are extremely useful and in many cases are required for admission to medical imaging programs. If you want to be a medical imaging worker, you'll need to complete a post-secondary training program. In some provinces, the minimum requirement for those specializing in x-rays and MRIs is a bachelor's degree in medical radiation technology. Degree programs usually take 4 years to complete and are available at colleges and universities across the country. 

Earnings

Medical imaging staff work for hospitals, private clinics, doctors' offices and government and public health agencies. They usually work full-time. Salaries vary depending on the medical imaging staff's area of specialty. For example, ultrasonographers earn more than x-ray techs on average. In general, however, imaging staff usually make between $35,000 and $70,000 a year.

The amount an individual tech earns depends on their level of training and experience. Those who are promoted or work at management level, or who specialize in areas such as CT scans or MRIs can earn more, sometimes close to $90,000 a year. Along with their salaries, full-time medical imaging staff often receive benefits, including paid sick leave and vacation time and health insurance.