A radiology technician is responsible for giving x-rays to patients, maintaining x-ray imaging equipment, discussing the process with patients, preparing them to receive x-rays and so on. These are fairly well paid positions that are seeing an increase in demand along with many other allied health fields. The majority of states require radiology technicians to be licensed, and certification is often a prerequisite for receiving that license. X-rays can be dangerous, and while not extremely difficult, the technical end of using x-ray equipment requires a solid background and reliable skill levels. It is important to maintain a standard of professionalism in the field, and this is why in most areas licenses and certifications are either legally mandatory or informally expected in the industry. But how do you get a radiology technician certification? The following are the series of steps necessary for achievement of a radiology technician certification:
Find out about your State’s Requirements
Since credentialing requirements vary by state, you should start by finding out if the state in which you reside and/or practice requires certification and licensing in a legal sense. Some states do, some states don’t. You can call your local education department and talk to a representative there to find out all the specifics for your particular area.
That said, you should bear in mind that even if states do not legally require a radiology technician to be certified, certified technicians have an advantage over non certified ones and it is an expected norm. Pretty much any reputable educational program should give you enough background to receive your certification.
Enroll in an Educational Program
There are three main levels of education for people starting out in the field. They can either enroll in a two year Associate’s degree program, a four year Bachelor’s degree program, or a certificate program that lasts less than two years (often 18 months). Associate’s degree programs are a popular choice since they allow people to begin working in the field fairly soon. BA or BS programs offer a broader view, may include other medical areas and imaging technologies, and obviously take longer to complete, but they are also popular and are especially helpful for students who want to diversify their skill sets beyond x-ray technology per se. The shorter programs often specialize only in a specific application of x-ray technology and only qualify individuals to work in certain states.
It is important to note that any school that a student enrolls in to study radiology technology must be accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). This is a national accrediting body that oversees radiology programs in the US. It’s unlikely that you’ll find a school offering programs in radiology technology that aren’t accredited by JCERT, but if you do, you’re advised not to enroll in those programs because it will create problems getting certified and/or licensed later on. States that require licenses will only issue them to people that have completed JCERT accredited programs and employers tend to expect it even if it is not legally required.
Take the AART Exam
The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) offers what is generally known as a “voluntary certification exam.” This exam is considered voluntary because some states do not legally require radiology technicians to be licensed or certified. But even in these areas, certification is strongly encouraged, and so it is in the best interests of those starting out in the field to get a radiology technician certification.
Once you have completed a college program, the next step is to sit for this exam and pass it. You can contact your local education department for information on where to take the exam locally.
Just getting the initial radiology technician certification is only part of the process. In most cases radiology technicians are expected to get recertified every two years. They generally do this by completing 24 hours of continuing education course work at two year intervals. Failure to do this may result in suspension of certification and a requirement to retake the AART exam. There is no reason to do this if you don’t have to, so stay on top of things and fulfill the continuing education requirements mandated by your state. It is likely that the continuing ed courses will be offered by the same school you initially attended, but they can also be found at a wide variety of colleges and community colleges.
So that’s about everything you need to know to get a radiology technician certification. The main thing is to find a school that you feel comfortable with and that suits your needs time wise, in terms of class size, and with respect to the degree level you’re interested in. If you do well in school, passing the AART exam should be fairly easy. Study hard in your educational program and the rest will fall into place.
American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) website