The science of mammography involves creating an image of the breast -- called a mammogram -- using X-rays. A mammogram allows physicians to check for the presence of cysts or tumors that could be cancer, in which case a biopsy must be performed. The radiologic technologists who perform mammograms on patients are sometimes referred to as mammographers.
Education Requirements Vary
A career as a radiologic technologist usually requires that you have have at least an associate degree, although some employers prefer applicants to hold a bachelor's degree. In instances where you have prior medical training or health care experience, you may be able to take a one-year certificate program in radiologic technology. Most states require radiologic technologists to either be licensed or certified. Radiologic technologists specializing in mammography can obtain specialized certification through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.
Mammographers are employed in several types of health care facilities, such as hospitals, diagnostic imaging centers, outpatient clinics and the offices of radiologists and other physicians. A mammogram usually takes between 15 and 45 minutes; generally, mammograms taken for the purpose of screening tend to take less time than those used for diagnosis. The job of the mammographer is to explain the procedure to the patient, adjust the height of the machine, compress the breast and use the machine to take an X-ray.
A 2010 survey of the American Society of Radiologic Technologists found that all types of radiologic technologists reported an average annual salary of $61,190 per year. Those specializing in mammography earned an average of $60,263 per year, close to the average pay for all types of radiologic technologists. The average starting pay for mammographers was $42,458 per year, while those with between 20 and 30 years of experience earned an average of $63,941 per year.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy is expected to experience a job growth rate of 14 percent between 2010 and 2020. Radiologic technologists, however, are expected to enjoy a high job growth rate of 28 percent. Because of to the increasing awareness of the importance of breast cancer screening, the need for mammographers is expected to increase; a 2009 study conducted by the Albany School of Public Health predicts that the relative number of mammographers will drop significantly by 2025.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Radiologic Technologists
- The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists: Mammographer
- American Cancer Society: Mammography
- American Society of Radiologic Technologists: 2010 Salary Survey
- Science Daily: Workforce Shortages In Mammography Could Threaten Early Detection Rates For Breast Cancer
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