Radiology technician schools and colleges come in a few different shapes and sizes. They range from career schools and community college curricula to large university degree programs. If you are interested in radiology tech as a career, the first thing you need to do is select the size, duration, and completeness of the program you’d like to take. There are several different options so let’s take a look at a few.
At the outset it should be pointed out that it is essential that whatever school a student plans to attend must be accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). This is a national accrediting body that oversees the field of radiology technology and makes sure educational and professional standards are upheld. Chances are that if a school is not accredited by JCERT, it won’t be offering radiology technician programs in the first place, but it doesn’t hurt to check, so make sure any school you investigate is indeed certified.
Career schools are perhaps the shortest option. Career schools often bill themselves as ordinary universities, but are found in business office parks and similar locations that have a distinct aura of the free market economy. They also tend to be heavy on the “distance learning” course format and will pop up all over internet searches offering online courses. These tend to be for profit institutions that offer certificates in radiology technology. Sometimes these programs are as short as nine to eighteen months. It is important to check out the backgrounds of these types of schools, because even if they are JCERT accredited, and they generally are, they may not offer the educational quality and depth of more traditional institutions.
The most common degree that people get when entering the field is a two year Associate’s degree. Schools that offer associate’s degrees may be either community college (junior college) type institutions or more traditional four year colleges. These latter, of course, also offer four year Bachelor’s degree, as well as graduate degrees – Master’s and Doctorates. A two year degree is a good way to get into the field without spending too much time on the educational part of it. This is why it’s such a common option. The two year programs go over all the fundamentals of being a radiology technician and give the student a thorough educational background.
Then there is the Bachelor option. Ordinary colleges and universities offer these degrees, and if someone has the time and money to complete them (and financial aid is often available of course), they can provide an even better introduction to the field of radiology and medical imaging in general, often including instruction in other imaging types, techniques, and technologies, or more in depth information about the health care field in general in their curricula.
Past the Bachelor’s level are graduate level degrees. Master’s degrees in radiology technology do exist, but they are not necessary for a student to begin in the field. They move to much more advanced levels and examine the technology and techniques of radiology in depth. PhD degrees covering radiology technology are also offered by colleges and universities, but for the most part these include quite a bit more than radiology technology, and delve deep into medical physics and imaging in general.
So which radiology technician schools and colleges school and the degree types you choose depends how deep you want to go into the field, and how much time and money you have to spend. In the general philosophy that learning is doing, it may be a good idea to get a two year degree from an accredited school so that you can begin working as soon as possible. You can even take online or night classes and in the mean time try to find work in environments that are similar to ones you’ll be working in as a radiology technician. You may, for instance, be able to get an administrative job at a doctor’s office while you attend classes at your chosen school. This will get you close to the field and give you a feel for what it’s all about. Experience and contact is to a large extent the best “school.”
You should not just choose radiology technician schools and colleges that you’d like to attend on the basis of programs and degrees offered. It is important to find a school that you feel comfortable with and like. Take as much time as necessary to visit schools, read reviews of them, and talk to administrators and counselors at the institution about the best program for your interests and goals. They will be more than happy to help you out in making a decision about whether or not to attend their institution. This is an interesting field that has plenty of possibility for advancement, but choosing a school with which you feel comfortable is an essential first step.