If you are browsing through the many options online, trying to figure out your best entry point into radiology, you will notice that there are three main options: certificates (or diplomas), associates, and bachelors degrees. By far, the most popular route is the associates degree and for many reasons.
The associates degree usually takes two academic years to complete and has three main phases. The first phase is the general medical and health care knowledge you will need such as medical terminology, anatomy, patient records management, and medical ethics. The second phase consists of the core radiology courses which usually include subjects such as patient positioning, radiographic physics, medical imaging technology, sectional anatomy, and a set of courses designed to acquaint you with imaging major anatomical areas. The third phase is the clinical experience where you will work with an existing Rad Tech and work through a set of competencies, skills, and knowledge out in the field.
The certificate programs for radiography are quicker and usually take about one academic year to complete. Associates programs are more popular than the certificates because there are many more approved programs through JRCERT (Joint Review Committee for Education in Radiologic Technology), and they more thoroughly prepare you for the ARRT examination. The ARRT, known as the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, is the national organization that administers tests and grants certification to Radiologic Technologists. Completing an associates degree is one of the best ways to prepare yourself for the exam.
Bachelor's degrees are another option that will provide you with a much more robust education; however, this path is pursued less because it is not required unless you are planning on pursuing a supervisory role, becoming a trainer, or setting the foundation for a masters degree.
Radiology has become a popular career choice because it is getting the reputation as one of the highest paying and rewarding health care jobs you can get with a two year degree, which is why a radiology associates degree is a popular option.