[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Information below will help you learn everything you need to know about the career of x ray technician.
Who are X Ray Technicians?
X ray technicians, or as they are also called, x ray technologists (or even radiology techs), are medical professionals who take diagnostic images of patients that are not limited to x-rays only, but can also include MRI and CT scans. Their job responsibilities also include preparing patients by explaining the nature of procedures, taking their medical records and placing patients in a way that will allow receiving the best image for the doctor. When performing x-ray scans, it is also important that radiology techs apply protection to parts of a patient’s body that don’t need to be examined. After images are taken, technicians are responsible for handling and storing them in digital format so that other members of a healthcare team can access them easily. NOTE: Although experienced x-ray technicians can often identify problems, like broken bones, on their own, they are not allowed to interpret scan results on their own or discuss them with patients. X ray technicians are not doctors, and to become one, you don’t need to spend a fortune on an expensive MD degree. You can enter the career after undergraduate courses and enjoy all the benefits of being a medical professional.
How to Become an X Ray Technician
When it comes to personal traits of character, our experience shows that the best x-ray technicians come out of those who:
- Are ready to learn something new and use modern technology. This job will require you to handle and maintain your working equipment in good standing as well as learning how to use new equipment.
In addition, a successful x ray technician is someone who constantly learns through his/her career. It’s also a requirement to earn continuing education (CE) credits to be allowed to practice.
- Are happy about helping other people. You will communicate with people in trouble on a daily basis. It’s important that they feel your support.
- Can keep secret and have an idea about what personal privacy and ethics are. Just like other healthcare professionals, radiology techs have access to confidential information about patients and are required to keep it to themselves.
- Are resistant to stress and are effective team players. Working in a clinical setup is very demanding. Not only are x ray techs required to work effectively under pressure, it’s important that they are not bothered by seeing patients’ pain and injuries on a daily basis.
As part of a big team, great x ray technicians are able to take responsibility and work independently and in conjecture with other healthcare professionals, like nurses, physicians and other professionals.
- Are responsible and have an eye for detail.
Working as an x-ray tech will require you to take safety very seriously, as it’s not only your patient’s health that depends on you (radiation can be very harmful), but your own as well. This job will also require you to concentrate on and observe small details. Although technicians don’t diagnose patients or prescribe treatment, doctors sometimes discuss scans with experienced x-ray techs.
Aside from personality (described above), in order to start learning, prospective x ray technicians will need a high school diploma or GED. After accomplishing training, employers like to see candidates with certification and licensure. To start working as an x-ray technician, you will need a certificate or degree from a school or college as well as certification and licensure (required in some states). To learn more about both, please read further.
Training & Schools
Although x ray technology is taught on the undergraduate level only, a prospective radiology tech still has three options to choose from when it comes to x-ray degrees: certificate, associate degree and bachelor’s degree.
Types of X-Ray Technician Degrees
Online or On-Campus?
Honestly speaking, if you’re new to x ray technology, the only option you should look for is a physical school. Although there are some online programs in x-ray technology, we don’t advise taking one unless you already have work experience and simply want to get a credential. The first reason is that there are no ARRT-accredited online programs out there, which means that certification and licensure are not possible. The second reason is that it’s the field where practical skill is an absolute must, and that can be learned on a campus with good facilities. Please note that some programs can allow students to take part of their curriculum (theoretical) online, but for the core subjects and practical part, visiting a campus is a must. However, if you’re a practicing x-ray tech, it’s possible to take some online courses if you want to transfer to a MRI or CT technology career.
Areas of Study
During x ray technician training, prospective graduates are focused on getting the following skills:[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_tour][vc_tab title=”Communication” tab_id=”1400150052-1-87″][vc_column_text]Since work as an x-ray technician assumes constant contact with patients, you will need to learn how to communicate in the most effective way as well as how to explain procedures to people and work with their questions and fears.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tab][vc_tab title=”Keeping Records” tab_id=”1400150052-2-11″][vc_column_text]As a part of a big healthcare team, you will need to ensure that its other members will have access to diagnostic images you take. To do so, your program of study will include subjects that will teach you how to work with electronic medical records (EMRs) and other software for image storage.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tab][vc_tab title=”Equipment Operation” tab_id=”1400150232325-2-3″][vc_column_text]You will learn how to take high-quality x rays using different types of modern diagnostic equipment. For this reason, it’s important to choose a school with good facilities. You will use the skills learned in your day-to-day activities as an x-ray technician.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tab][vc_tab title=”Emergency Aid” tab_id=”1400150263387-3-9″][vc_column_text]Patients that will come to your laboratory will not always be in a condition of perfect health. Some will require an x-ray after injury. This is why you will need to know the basics of first aid.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tab][vc_tab title=”Time Management” tab_id=”1400150297404-4-4″][vc_column_text]As it happens in a clinical setup, sometimes you will be overloaded with work due to busy patient flow. In such conditions, when pressure increases, you will need to prioritize tasks accordingly and accomplish most critical ones first. Special courses in you curriculum will teach you to identify what is more important and what is less urgent.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tab][/vc_tour][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]To make this happen, the curriculum of an x ray technician courses include the following core areas:[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_tour][vc_tab title=”Medical Terminology” tab_id=”1400150399-1-7″][vc_column_text]That’s where every future healthcare worker begins his education. Since very special vocabulary is used in this industry, you will need to learn even the basics of Latin. The whole course is necessary to successfully understand all areas of modern healthcare, including procedures, legal terminology, etc.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tab][vc_tab title=”Medical Ethics” tab_id=”1400150399-2-76″][vc_column_text]You will deal with situations like medical mistakes, confidentiality and cultural differences on a daily basis in your work as an x ray tech. Knowing principals of ethics will allow you to make moral decisions.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tab][vc_tab title=”Physiology and Anatomy” tab_id=”1400150590771-2-9″][vc_column_text]The curriculum of programs for prospective x-ray technicians includes courses on the build of the human body (anatomy) and knowledge of how the systems function inside a human body (physiology).[/vc_column_text][/vc_tab][vc_tab title=”Physics” tab_id=”1400150632276-3-8″][vc_column_text]Courses in x-ray physics teach basic principles of radiation, thermodynamics and functioning of x-ray tubes. You will need this knowledge to understand how x-rays work and how to benefit from this knowledge in your daily activities.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tab][vc_tab title=”Radiation Protection” tab_id=”1400150675555-4-9″][vc_column_text]This is probably one of the most important subjects in your curriculum. During this course, you will learn all precautions you need to take in order to ensure that you won’t harm your patient and yourself.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tab][/vc_tour][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]
Certification and Licensure
To practice x-ray technology in most states, you will to either be certified or licensed. Depending on the state, in order to be certified, you need to graduate from either a JRCERT or ARRT-accredited institution. Upon graduation, you will need to take an ARRT exam. This is an industry standard for x-ray technician certifications, so most radiologists have it. That is enough to start working in some of the states; however, other states will require you to get a license (most of the states even accept ARRT exam results for providing a license). We advise you to consult with your local Board of Health to clarify whether additional licensure is needed. In any case, to maintain your certification, you will need to take 24 hours of CE classes every 2 years and repeat your exam every 10 years.
Salary & Job Outlook
As of now, the average annual salary of an x ray technician is $48,000. Of course, there are technicians who earn $35,000 and those who earn $80,000. Salary for x ray technicians with the same level of qualifications and experience varies depending on the state. The salary as well as job opportunities improve by earning corresponding certification that allows you to work with CT and MRI equipment. According to BLS, the job outlook for x ray techs is very promising. In the next decade, the demand will rise by 30%, which is high even for healthcare careers.
Other Careers in X Ray Technology
After becoming an x-ray technician, your professional growth is not limited to this occupation only. Remember that this occupation assumes lifetime learning and gaining new knowledge; therefore, taking on new responsibilities is a very popular career advancement opportunity.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_tour][vc_tab title=”Mammography Technologist” tab_id=”1399890729-1-29″][vc_column_text]Mammography techs are responsible for taking diagnostic images of women’s breasts for doctors to evaluate and find possible issues, like breast cancer. The average salary of mammography technologists is $62,500. Education: An associate degree is recommended, although it’s possible to get a job with a certificate in x-ray technology.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tab][vc_tab title=”MRI Technologist” tab_id=”1399890729-2-76″][vc_column_text]MRI techs are responsible for taking diagnostic images of patients using special scanners. The technology is different from standard x-ray, and the procedure itself takes more time. This job requires great communication skills since approximately 13% of patients experience panic attacks during the procedure. The average annual salary of MRI techs is $61,200. Education: An associate degree is required. Starting on January 1, 2015, in order to be certified, an academic degree is necessary.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tab][vc_tab title=”CT Technologist” tab_id=”1399891276378-2-5″][vc_column_text]A popular career advancement option for x ray technicians is switching to a computed tomography (CT) technologist job. These techs perform CT images of patients for doctors to diagnose further. The average annual salary of CT technologists is $58,800. Education: It’s possible to get a job with a certificate, but we recommend an associate degree (2 years to complete) for better chances if you want to become a CT tech.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tab][/vc_tour][/vc_column][/vc_row]