Radiology technicians work in hospital, medical laboratory, private practice, and other health care environments. They are mostly involved in taking x-ray films, discussing x-ray technology with patients, and maintaining or adjusting x-ray imaging equipment. This is a career path that can lead to well paid positions and which has a lot of room for job flexibility and advancement.
When someone begins considering whether they would like to become involved in a particular career, one of the first questions that come to mind is what the requirments are to begin working in the field. The position of radiology technician is an interesting and fairly lucrative career with reasonably moderate educational and legal prerequisites. What are the requirements to be a radiology technician? Let’s take a look:
Educational and certification requirements vary somewhat by state, but most states require radiologic technologists to be licensed, and this generally hinges on completion of the American Association of Radiologic Technologist exam. In order to qualify to take this exam, a student has to have completed an acceptable educational program in radiologic technology that deals with both class work and clinical performance and that AART deems acceptable. There are a number of educational programs that fulfill the requirements for taking this exam. The majority are accredited by the main accrediting body that oversees the radiology technician field, which is called the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT).
The actual degrees associated with radiologic technology vary in the same way as with many other professions: there are degrees at the certificate, Associate, and Bachelor level that can all be used as entry points into the career, and in general there are a variety of programs that include radiologic technology.
Certificate programs usually last around 18 to 24 months. These programs often deal with the minimum requirements being a radiology technician or may focus on a specific area. Some programs are far shorter even, lasting weeks or months and qualifying an individual to work in a limited capacity. The latter, however, are only allowed in certain states. Career schools, community colleges, and health care facilities are all places where these kinds of programs are offered.
Associate degrees that deal with radiology are a popular educational route, and generally last two years. While, again, not an actual requirement, Associate’s degrees go into more depth than certificate programs in radiology technology and are regarded as a good minimum level of education by many. Courses that make up these programs are offered at junior colleges, technical schools, ordinary colleges and universities, and health care facilities.
Bachelor’s degrees usually take four years to complete and often have more breadth than Associate degree courses. They may deal with medical imaging as a whole and related health fields. They are generally offered at four year colleges and universities.
Certification and Licensing
As noted above, the main national certification exam is the AART exam. However, each state has the latitude to determine its own policies for certification and licensing requirements for radiologic technicians. In the majority of states licensing is indeed a requirement, and the AART exam is used as a prerequisite for licensing. There may however be other state administered exams depending on the state which must be passed before an individual can be issued a license.
In states where a license is not a literal legal requirement, certification is usually nevertheless strongly encouraged. Some certifications are issued at the conclusion of courses of study, and states may or may not require AART certification – a certification from an acceptable educational program may be considered enough for certain kinds of work.
Since successful completion of the AART exam is often a requirement, qualification to take the exam is correspondingly an important issue. The AART stipulates a number of requirements in order to be able to take the test. A few of these are as follows:
Agreement to Comply
The students must agree to comply with AART rules and regulations and its standard of ethics. These are outlined in the AART literature. The AART does reserve the right to reject a test taker if it feels they are not acting in accord with these general codes or, of course, if they do not agree to comply with them .
Standard of Ethics
The AART looks at the past and present performance and behavior of a student and determines whether the student is an individual of good moral standing. The organization seeks to safeguard the ethical practice of radiology technology and thus sets moral conduct as an important requirement.
As noted above, the educational program a student completes must have both clinical and classroom segments and be considered acceptable by the AART. In addition, registration for the AART exam must take place within five years of finishing the educational program.
There are in addition other more specific educational requirements that deal with certain areas of medical imaging and radiology such as nuclear medicine and magnetic resonance imaging techniques. In addition, starting in 2015 all candidates for AART certification will be required to have at least an Associate degree dealing with radiologic technology before taking the exam.
A full listing of the AART test qualification/certification criteria can be found at their website: https://www.arrt.org/.