There are many different career opportunities available for those who want to work in healthcare. One such position is a radiology technician, also known as an x-ray technician. An x-ray tech is someone who takes images of different body parts with several different types of machines to aide in the diagnosis and care of patients. These machines include x-ray machines, computed topography(CT), fluoroscopy, film and digital mammography, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). It is not the job of the radiology tech, but instead the radiologist, to read and interpret these images.
The work environment will differ for each individual depending on their area of employment. Generally speaking an x-ray tech will work in a hospital or some type of medical facility setting. These setting can include outpatient clinics, inpatient clinics, and doctors offices. It is very likely that they will be in contact with acutely and chronically ill patients.
The minimum educational requirement, as of 2015, for a radiology tech is an Associate’s Degree in Radiology from an accredited facility. This degree will take approximately two years to complete and will provide the student eligibility to become certified through The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Typically the student will be exposed to classroom training and practical training at a healthcare facility. Depending on the program training may include areas such as phlebotomy as well.
Certification for a basic x-ray technician is required by most states. This cannot be done until the required educational requirements have been completed. In order to become certified the radiology tech must pass a certification exam for the state in which they wish to practice in. For most states, however, if the tech is certified through ARRT the certification testing for that state may be waived. There are many different advancement opportunities available beyond the basic certification. These include additional certifications that focus on specific areas of radiology, teaching a radiology program, sales or radiology equipment, or administration within a radiology department. These certifications can be obtained through schools or from medical facilities who are qualified to provide the education needed.
The average salary for a radiology technician will depend on education, certifications, experience, and specific job duties. The average salary for an x-ray tech falls around $55,000 per year. With the lower end of the salary being approximately $37,000 and the higher end being around $77,000. Looking at the salary in an hourly wage perspective, the radiology technician can expect to make approximately $19.00-$22.00 per hour with minimal experience. This salary will increase if the technician is obtaining a job that requires more skill than the basic knowledge of a new grad radiology technician.
While there are many regulations that exist to help individuals with the potential hazards of working with x-ray equipment, it is very important for radiology technicians to educate themselves in regards to any dangers they may face on the job. Things like monitoring the technicians exposure and assuring that protective equipment is functioning and used properly are very important aspects of job safety. It is imperative for the technician to report any malfunctioning or damaged x-ray equipment to the facility immediately. Technicians are exposed to radiation daily on the job and any increase due to malfunctioning equipment could be disastrous.
In conclusion, an x-ray technician is an important part of the healthcare team. In order to begin a career as a basic radiology technician, an Associate’s Degree in Radiology and certification in the state in which the tech plans to practice are required. The salary for a radiology technician tends to be slightly higher than any other medical technician; however, this increase in salary may be due to the potential hazards that a x-ray tech could face on the job.