Radiologic technologist careers are among one of the highest paying and rewarding professions with a two year degree. With as little as a radiology associates degree and in some cases a radiology certificate, you will be at the forefront of fighting diseases and using state of the art technology. Radiologic Technologists are often referred to as Rad Tech's or RT's for short. Once you get started in the field of radiology, the sky is the limit. The shortage of Radiologist physician's in the country has lead to more demand for positions which assist the Radiologist M.D. and has created opportunities for advancement into positions with more complex imaging modalities and higher salaries.
Are you right for a career as a Radiologic Technologist? What are the skills and character traits that a Rad Tech should possess? These are questions to consider before making the decision to pursue a radiologic technologist career. Radiology Tech's must be at ease communicating with patients in a variety of situations from the very young to the elderly and terminally sick. You must be caring, compassionate, and patient with the individuals you are imaging. Also, a good Rad Tech will have learned how to master the art of patient positioning and have a strong knowledge of anatomy. Of course, you don't need to have the same level of anatomical knowledge that a physician needs, but you will need to have enough knowledge to effectively isolate and image the anatomical structures that an ordering physician requests. Be assured that you will learn all about anatomy and patient positioning during radiology school and during the course of your radiology technologist career.
"I knew I wanted to pursue a career in radiology because I was interested in being a part of the healing process and I was excited about using technology that could look inside the human body with such accuracy and precision."
The wonderful thing about radiology careers, is that if you want to, you can spend a lifetime learning new imaging modalities, enhancing your skills and education. Many people who have started on the Radiologic Tech career path and have practiced for a while have found that they eventually begin to become more attracted to certain aspects of their job and then pursue additional training in that direction. If you become fascinated with the anatomy of the female reproductive system, you may want to learn more about obstetrics and gynecology. While on the job, you may want to job shadow an MRI Tech or PET scanner; you might become fascinated with 3-D images of the brain and decide to pursue the path of neurosonology. The options are many and the technology continues to enhance the career options of RT's.
Going For the Top Level Positions in Radiology
The latest trend is to work your way up to the coveted Radiologist Assistant (RA) position, which is an advanced Radiologic Technologist who works closely with the Radiologist physician in the diagnosis process. This is a position that often comes with a hefty $100,000 plus salary and requires a masters degree. If that is your goal, you can start right now by pursuing your two year radiology degree, diploma, or certificate and becoming certified through the ARRT. Some choose to work for a year or two as a Rad Tech, then learn some additional imaging procedures such as MRI or Mammography. Then, pursue your bachelor's degree online through one of the radiology distance learning programs featured on this site. Work a few more years getting experience and mastery of your job while winning the support of your supervisors and peers. Then, take that last step of obtaining a master's in radiologic sciences. At this point, you will need to become a certified Radiologist Assistant by passing the RA exam through the ARRT. Now you are in the big league in the field of radiology. This is an example of a career path in radiology that gets you to the highest position possible just shy of being an actual physician with a very attractive compensation package.
Another exciting aspect of a career as a Radiologic Technologist, is that you get to utilize equipment that is at the forefront of technology. Before the recent advances in medical imaging, doctors were literally trying to diagnose illnesses based on a much more limited and uncertain set of criteria. With the advent of crystal clear, three dimensional, and sometimes real -time views of the inside of the body, doctors are able to diagnose with much greater precision than decades past. Every year there are new technologies that emerge such as the V-Scan, which is rumored to prove as important as the stethoscope was to the 21st century. MRI technology itself has only been around for the past few decades and greater magnetic power in the equipment is continually enhancing the clarity of the images. Radiologic Technologist careers are not just about patient interaction and positioning, they're also about becoming proficient at using technology.
The following are the typical imaging jobs and specializations you can purse as a Radiologic Technologist. Once you receive your associates degree in general radiography, it is common to go on to get a certificate or cross-training in one or more of the following sub-specialties under the umbrella of the Radiologic Technologist job family. To learn more, click on the links below: