How to Become an X-Ray Technician
X-ray technicians operate the machinery that is used to take images of potentially injured bones and other hard tissues in the body. An x-ray technician’s main responsibilities are to help patients prepare to be x-rayed, take the x-rays, and analyze the images to be sure that they are of good enough quality to be useful to a physician. Here are some frequently asked questions when it comes to x-ray technician degrees and careers:
- What is an x-ray technician?
- How do I become an x-ray technician?
- What are my degree options in this field?
- What courses are required to become an x-ray technician?
- What is the job outlook for x-ray technicians?
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What is an x-ray technician?
X-ray technicians are often referred to as radiologic technologists or radiographers. There are many programs both online and at conventional colleges or trade schools that train students to become an x-ray technician. These medical technicians handle all types of x-rays. The majority of x-ray technicians work in a hospital setting, but they can also work at clinics or in private practices. In addition to helping physicians and nurses diagnose patients by taking pictures of bones and organs, other key responsibilities of an x-ray technician include:
- Loads x-ray film cassettes
- Takes radiographs and digital photos
- Develops, fixes, washes, dries, and files x-ray film
- Keeps records of x-ray film, unit activities, and related records
- Assists in scheduling and arranging for x-ray clinics
How do I become an x-ray technician?
Training to become an x-ray technician can be achieved in a few different ways. One of the most popular methods of training to become an x-ray technician is a 2-year program that gives you an associate degree. There are also bachelor’s programs in radiology. and certification programs that last a year to 18 months.
All of these degrees and certifications prepare you to work as an x-ray technician to some extent, but in different capacities. Someone with an associate degree may work taking x-rays, while someone with a bachelor’s degree will supervise this person or an entire department within a hospital. Those who have a certification will work delivering and documenting x-rays with limited experiences taking x-rays from patients. This all depends on the demand for x-ray technicians in your area. Some facilities may promote someone with an associate degree to a supervising position if the person has the experience to handle the responsibilities.
What are my degree options in this field?
Becoming an X-ray Technician usually requires students to obtain a background in healthcare — usually through an associate or bachelor degree — and then seek further certification with the specific equipment they will be using. Very few schools offer programs specific to x-ray tech or radiology, but other major can be used to start a career in this field:
- Health Information Technology Associate Programs
- Healthcare Associate Programs
- Medical Assisting Associate Programs
- Radiology Associate Programs
- Health Information Technology Bachelor Programs
- Healthcare Bachelor Programs
- Radiology Bachelor Programs
What courses are required to become an x-ray technician?
Studying to become an x-ray technician you can expect to learn about pathology, patient procedures, how to protect patients from radiation, and how to accurately take an image. There are many techniques learned to take an accurate image from a child, adult, or elderly person. This is tweaked and modified from patient to patient, so it is integral that the x-ray technician understand how and when to adjust the x-ray machine or patient in order to get the best imaging results. Anatomy and physiology are also part of the curriculum.
You should research accredited radiography schools when seeking out a school. This is important so you’re able to begin working after receiving your license from the state. Licensing requirements vary from state to state, and working with an accredited school ensures you have all of the proper paperwork to begin working upon receiving your degree or certificate. You will also have to receive certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. While optional, certification will work to your advantage when interviewing for x-ray technician positions. Some hospitals, clinics and doctors will only consider those with a ARRT certification for filling positions.
What is the job outlook for x-ray technicians?
X-ray technicians look to experience a 21% increase through 2022. This will be concentrated in mid to large cities where hospitals service a larger population. Specialized x-ray technicians such as those trained to operate MRIs or CT scans will experience the most job growth in the coming decade. Some regions are packed with x-ray technicians and may not see as much growth as other areas. The aging population is the primary reason x-ray technicians are high in demand. As people age, they are more likely in need of treatment to diagnose various problems. X-ray technicians can expect to regularly work with the elderly when working at a clinic or hospital.
About 59% of x-ray technicians work in a hospital. Many job openings are also available through diagnostic or imagine centers that have become popular in recent years. The average salary for a x-ray technician is $55,200 per year. This number can go up or down depending on the market you’re working in. Those working in a major hospital in a large city will average over $70,000 per year, while an x-ray tech working in a rural town in a clinic may garner closer to $40,000 per year. Radiography offers ample room for career and salary growth, but you may have to move regions to take advantage of this industry trend.