Radiology deals with medical imaging, usually for diagnostic purposes and usually using x-ray technology. That is the important thing. This is a well paid career that draws on technical ability, visual analysis processes, and analytical skills. As a career it is a good way to bring together and interest in the health care field with a talent for the visual.
Becoming a radiology technician is not so hard if you have a clear aim and goal. The following steps are ones that will help you clearly visualize how to become a radiology technician. You can follow these steps to get involved in this in this interesting and in-demand career.
Make a Decision to Pursue the Career
Get clear on your intention to become a radiology technician. This is a career that will likely take a large amount of time and concentration, both during the educational process and in the actual work itself, so you should be really sure that you want to do it. It is a good idea to write out a list of pros and cons about taking up the field so that you can better weigh out the decision. Some examples of pros might be the good pay and the interest of the work, while cons may be the fact that you’re working with x-rays (which can be dangerous if you are not careful with them) and that you will possibly work long hours (though this, of course, is not written in stone).
You can also write out some directions you would like the career to lead. For instance, you may write out that after getting a background in radiology you would like get into some other medical imaging areas such as ultrasound, ct scans, or even non-medical visual fields like photography. Salary goals, amount of time you’d like in your work week, and any other considerations can also be written out, allowing you to get a more comprehensive picture of your motivations and goals. The actual writing part is not essential, but it can help.
Decide on Degree Level
There are three common degree types that people who are getting into radiology often obtain initially: certificates, Associate’s degrees, and Bachelor’s degrees. All can be appropriate as a first degree, depending on how much time you want to spend and the entry levels you are aiming for, though Associate’s degrees are perhaps the most common type.
Certificates typically take a year and a half to two years to complete. These programs qualify students to at least begin working in the field at a basic level. They can be found at various colleges, community colleges, and universities around the country. Online searches and discussions with administrative personnel at colleges are a good way to locate certificate programs.
The next level is the Associate’s degree level. As above mentioned this is a common degree to get and gives the student a rounded education in radiology that nevertheless also allows them to begin working sooner.
Finally, Bachelor’s degrees take four years to complete and go more in depth into radiology as well as often including related disciplines such as other allied health or imaging procedures. A Bachelor’s is especially useful if a student plans to branch out and do more than radiology later on.
The shortest duration of course that can be taken is the “limited scope” type of program, and it is only offered by some states. These are short programs lasting weeks or months that qualify students for very specific radiology work.
Find and Apply to Schools
Once you’ve decided on your degree level, it’s time to find a school. It hardly needs to be stated that a good way to search for schools is on the internet. There are hundreds of sites that give listings of schools that teach specific programs, often along with career descriptions and advice. Search on the internet under: “list of radiology technician degree programs by state” or something similar. Before you know it you’ll have a huge list of schools to choose from.
To focus in on specific schools is, obviously, the next step and involves a process of researching the reputation and background of schools, visiting them, emailing their admissions offices, and so forth. Also, talking to former students of a certain school is a good way to get information about a certain school. Then simply apply to the schools in which you’re interested.
By the way, schools that teach radiology should be accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). It is essential to attend schools that are accredited by this organization in states that require radiologists to be licensed, which is most of them. So you may want to include that in your internet search terms and keep it in mind generally.
Attend the degree program, study hard, and get good grades. If you need to work while attending school, choose programs that give night classes, distance learning programs, or other flexible arrangements. There are many such schools and they cater to people on the go. You can also consider getting grants and loans on which to live while you’re studying.
Take ARRT Certification Exam and get License
ARRT stands for the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. This is a national organization that handles certification in the field and upholds professional standards. They offer a certification exam that is a prerequisite for licensing in many states. Take and pass this exam. On completion you can then get a license to practice in your state, most probably from your state’s health department.
Apply to physician practices, hospitals, clinics, diagnostic medical labs, extended care facilities, and outpatient care companies that offer entry level jobs in radiology. There are many job listings on the internet, some on the same sites that offer listings of educational programs. Your degree will obviously be a decisive factor in which jobs you can get, but employer preferences vary, so think in terms of what a particular job offers you and how you and the employer can best benefit each other.
You need not think in terms of working for only one employer. Many radiology technicians work for a number of different employers on a part time basis, almost in a freelance sense. You might want to think in terms of being in control of your own time rather than simply showing up for a nine to five job if that approach suits you better.
There you have it, that’s how to become a radiology technician.