X-ray technicians are trained to use radiation waves to create images of patients' skeletal systems and internal organs. Professional training requires two to four years of post-secondary coursework and hands-on clinical practice. Although most states offer individual certification, the American Registry of Radiologic Technicians (ARRT) is the only nationwide certifying body for X-ray technicians.
X-ray tech applicants are required to complete an approved post-secondary training program in radiology, offered at community colleges, technical schools and universities. Students most commonly complete a two-year, associate’s degree program, though one-year certificate and four-year bachelor’s degree programs are also available. One-year certificate programs are geared toward individuals already working in the healthcare industry. Four-year bachelor's degree programs are typically completed by those looking to obtain administrative or supervisory roles. As of 2012, ARRT is in the process of changing its certification requirements; starting in 2015, certification applicants will need to provide proof of completing a degree-granting program. To prepare for the career, students study pathology, anatomy, biology, radiation physics, patient care and image evaluation, and complete a supervised clinical component that provides valuable hands-on practice.
For certification through the ARRT, as well as most state agencies, applicants must meet certain ethical requirements. Certification candidates must report whether they’ve ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, or been involved in a criminal procedure resulting in a no contest or guilty plea, guilty verdict, deferred or withheld adjudication, suspended or stayed sentencing or pretrial diversion. Certification candidates are also required to report if they’ve ever had any type of license, certification or registration suspended, restricted or revoked.
After providing proof of educational and ethical eligibility, future X-ray techs are required to pass a written certification exam, either through the ARRT, or through a certifying state body. Most state certifying bodies mirror the ARRT exam requirements. Typically, exams test whether candidates have the knowledge and skills needed to perform the typical entry level tasks required of an X-ray tech. For the test administered by the ARRT, candidates have three times to try and pass the exam, but cannot test more than three times in a three-year period.
Depending on their certifying body, most X-ray techs must meet certain continuing education requirements to maintain their radiography certification. ARRT requires proof of X-ray techs having completed 24 continuing education credits every four years, but state certification boards may differ. Check your state for details.
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