Overview of Salary for Radiography Professionals
Where can you find a career that pays somewhere in a range between $41,000 per year up to $440,000 per year? The short answer is Radiography. The field of radiography offers continuous expansion from a Medical Assistant with Limited Scope X-Ray Tech all the way up to Radiologist M.D. While the above high end salary seems excessively high for most professions in the United States, it would only be fair to point out that this salary in the 200K to 400K per year range is usually reserved for individuals who have an M.D. by their name. However, for those of us who are not willing or able to invest the amount of time necessary to becoming an M.D., there are still opportunities in radiography that will pay you in the 100K range annually. This position is known as a Radiologist Assistant, or R.A. for short. Below, I will get you more acquainted with various roles that fall under the broad category of medical imaging with a specific emphasis on the salary for radiography.
What Can I expect to Make Just out of School?
For individuals just out of a radiography program, you can expect to earn an average of $41,612 nationally according to the American Medical Association. When you are reading about salary from a national source, you've got to remember that there is often a wide variance in the actual salaries that make up that average. This can be accounted for by the differences in pay for radiographers, depending on their geographic region. Those seeking jobs in urban, metropolitan markets can expect to get paid higher, while those in rural settings or less stimulated economic regions can expect to be paid at the lower end of the scale. At first glance, this could be alarming to those of you who live in depressed economic regions; however, it is important to remember that the cost of living in these areas is usually significantly lower. You must also remember that with no experience under your belt, you should not expect higher than average compensation; however, there are always exceptions to the rule.
What is the salary for Radiography versus Salary for Related Medical Imaging Professions
The salary for radiography compared to other related medical imaging professions can be a tricky one to get your arms around. The reason for this is because within radiography, there are various specialties such as mammography, CT Tech, or MRI Tech. Those who have skill and knowledge greater than standard x-rays, will usually enjoy higher salaries as well. For example, an MRI Tech, makes $61,928 annually according to the national average, while a standard Rad Tech makes $52,336 annually, and X-Ray Tech's, usually much lower on average. The reason for this is that it is common for general Radiographers to obtain additional training after they have been on the job for a while. One popular avenue is to become certified in MRI. This would explain why MRI Tech's are usually paid more than standard Radiographers. X-Ray Technicians often have the title of "Technician" because they are not fully certified through the ARRT (American Registry of Radiologic Technologists), which administers a test you must take before you can have the "Technologist" within your title. Because Technicians are often not certified as Rad Tech's through the ARRT, they don't meet nationally set standards, and thus, usually end up getting compensated less than one who is certified.
Why Does a Radiologist Assistant Get Paid So Much?
Radiologist Assistants (R.A.) get paid significantly higher because their level of experience and education warrants it. Radiologist Assistants must complete a Master's Degree and pass a special test administered by the ARRT in order to obtain the official title of R.A. If you have the drive and perseverance to complete your bachelor's degree, then move on to complete your radiography masters degree, you could be a candidate for this position. You will need to have an advanced knowledge of anatomy, medical imaging physics, and several imaging modalities before you may be considered for a program. Those who obtain the title work closely with the Radiologist M.D. and usually get paid salaries of 100K or more per year. The responsiblity is great, but so is the pay.
So, How Do I Increase my Salary?
The best way to increase your salary is to expand your skill set and your education, while continuing to gain valuable experience on the job. If you are a Limted Scope X-Ray Tech or a Medical Assistant, consider looking into completing an Associates Degree in Radiography and then becoming certified through the ARRT. If you are currently a Rad Tech, take a look at the many radiology certificate options such as CT Tech, Mammography, or MRI. Look into learning about interventional procedures or assisting with procedures that use multiple imaging modalities at once. Become a master at what you do and show it through your education as well as your experience as didactic and hands on are both necessary components to success. If you have completed your associates, but want to become an R.A., get into an online bachelor's degree for radiography, then continue on to your masters degree. If you love what you do, it is worth the sacrafice.