Radiologic technologists, also known as X-ray technicians, are trained to use diagnostic screening equipment. They typically specialize in the use of X-ray, computer tomography and magnetic resonance imaging equipment. Sometimes they are called CT technicians or MRI technicians, depending on their certifications and experience. Some radiologic technologists specialize in mammography, or screening the breast for tumors. Mammographers are specially trained to use ultra-low-dose X-ray devices to create close-up images of breasts for radiologists and other health professionals to examine. Radiologic techs often choose to become certified in more than one specialty.
For many people, working in a "helping profession" such as the medical field can offer significant emotional rewards. Although X-ray techs employed at hospitals and urgent care clinics sometimes have to deal with long hours and interact with seriously ill or injured patients, most radiologic technologists working in non-hospital contexts such as doctor's offices have relatively low-stress and emotionally rewarding jobs.
Good Working Conditions
The majority of X-ray techs enjoy relatively pleasant working conditions. Hospitals, clinics and other health care facilities are always climate controlled, and radiologic techs rarely have to travel further than from one department to another in their facility. Furthermore, modern radiologic equipment is highly shielded with minimal leakage of radiation. Incidental exposure of equipment operators is also monitored as a safety precaution. X-ray techs are expected to be capable of physical activities requiring significant use of your arms and legs, including climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, bending over and handling of equipment and materials.
Good Pay and Prospects
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, radiologic technologists earned an annual mean wage of $56,760 in 2011. Those who worked in scientific research and development services took home the most, with an annual mean wage of $66,120. Radiologic technicians working at doctor's offices made the least with an annual mean wage of $55,020. Job prospects are excellent for radiologic technologists, with the BLS projecting employment to grow by 28 percent through 2020.
Relatively Short Training
Most radiologic technicians have an associate degree. However, it is possible to work as a radiologic tech with just a certificate, which can be earned in 6 to 12 months. According to O-Net Online, 46 percent of U.S. radiologic techs have earned an associate degree, 11 percent have a bachelor's degree and 34 percent have completed a certificate program. Higher-paying positions at hospitals and research clinics typically require at least an associate degree.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: OOH -- Radiologic Technologists
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: OES -- 29-2037 Radiologic Technologists and Technicians
- O-Net Online: Summary Report for: 29-2034.00 - Radiologic Technologists
- American Society of Radiologic Technologists: Explore Careers in Radiologic Technology
- Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images