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Radiology Technician: Employment, Salary & Job Overview

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As more and more people retire in the U.S. every year, healthcare fields are seeing an increase in available jobs. For instance, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the medical fields encompassed by radiologic technology are expected to experience a “faster than average” rate of growth rate (between 14 percent and 19 percent) into 2018. In 2008, there were approximately 208,000 people in the field, so this anticipated growth rate equates to nearly 35,000 new jobs in the next eight years.

Professionals who possess knowledge of multiple systems (and therefore possess multiple certifications) will have the most marketable skills for advancement. The ability to conduct CT scans and MRI scans, in particular, is very appealing to employers who want to use these methods before—and sometimes instead of—x-ray technology because they produce clearer images. Additionally, with the steady advancements being made in technology, medical equipment is becoming more and more mobile, so the availability of these jobs in places other than hospitals will increase. Currently, hospitals account for the vast majority of all radiographic positions, followed distantly by private physicians, diagnostic laboratories, outpatient care centers, and military facilities.

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The salary outlook for radiography professionals is quite positive. In 2008, the national average for salary in the radiology field was between $16.87 and $36.04 per hour, or $35,100 to $74,970 per year. For a profession that is expecting such a strong growth, these are compelling statistics to keep in mind when deciding your career path.

For those who take the further step of planning ahead for higher radiologic positions, such as radiologic assistant, administrator, director, or beyond, the advantages can be significant. Starting your career as a radiologic technologist with a bachelor's degree, and then pursuing further certifications, will certainly allow you to achieve job stability and a high salary that much sooner, though the initial commitment will be more challenging. Since positions such as radiologic assistant require a bachelor's degree, in addition to other components, having that level of education at the outset will potentially smooth your advancement in the future.

Daily Duties of a Radiology Technician

A radiographic technician or technologist might perform the following duties in a typical day.

  • Explain the procedure to patients.
  • Make sure that patients have removed jewelry and other accessories that might interfere with the X-rays.
  • Position patients so that the relevant parts of their body can be radiographed.
  • Protect patients by surrounding the body parts under the X-ray with radiation protection devices, such as lead shields.
  • Administer a fluoroscopy solution for the patient to drink that will highlight soft tissues in the body for the radiologist to look at.
  • Conduct a CT, or computed tomography, scan.
  • Conduct an MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, scan.
  • Develop the X-ray film.
  • Adjust and maintain the X-ray equipment.
  • Keep patient records before and after the procedure.

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