Radiology Technician Degrees

A radiology technician is called upon to produce clear, concise x-ray images for physicians. The technician prepares the patient for the procedure and maintains the x-ray equipment. While producing the best possible image is a fundamental part of the technician's job, minimizing radiation exposure to the patient, their coworkers, and themselves is also critical. The technician must ensure that the imaging equipment is performing well, that all precautions against exposure have been taken, and that the patient is receiving the best possible exposure prevention during the procedure. While taking an image, the technician must address any difficulties in order to produce the clearest image for the physician's diagnostic requirements.

A radiology technician is not the same as a radiologic technologist, who, in addition to being responsible for all of the above, is also tasked with being an expert for their particular field of specialty. Technologists specialize in computed tomography (CT scans), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scans), mammography, bone densitometry, and fluoroscopes (imaging of various soft tissues within the body). Both technicians and technologists may also manage patient records, evaluate equipment purchases, manage department work schedules, or even manage an entire radiology department.

In order to work as a radiology technician, an associate degree is required. There are also bachelor's degrees available, which can help lead to advanced positions in the field. When choosing a degree program, prospective students should make sure that they are choosing an accredited program. Radiology technicians might also wish to pursue voluntary professional certification.

Associate Degrees for Radiology Technicians

An associate degree is the minimum education required in order to become a radiology technician. This level of education will prepare radiology technicians to perform diagnostic imaging examinations which may include x-rays, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and mammography. Virtually all of these technicians will take part in the intricacies related to the process of producing x-rays on varying parts of the human body to assist with the diagnosing of medical conditions. In addition to counseling patients about the process for x-rays, these professionals also properly position the patients while surrounding areas that may potentially be exposed to radiation with protection devices and limit the size of the x-ray to ensure that no harm is wrought.

The coursework covered in associate degree programs in radiology are often similar to those for bachelor’s degrees and certificates. Typically there is both laboratory and classroom instruction in subjects such as physiology and anatomy, radiation physics, patient care procedures, radiation protection, pathology, medical terminology, principles of imaging, positioning of patients and medical ethics. High school students looking to prepare for post-secondary education in radiology can do so by taking high school classes in math, biology, chemistry, and physics.

Bachelor's Degree for Radiology Technicians

There are a number of options for students who choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree in radiology. This level of degree program will help prepare students to work as radiology technicians. In addition, bachelor’s degrees in radiology help students to be more qualified to reach areas of specialization and advancement in fields related to radiation technicians. Other advanced positions in this field that students with bachelor’s degrees may be eligible for include promotions to the rank of supervisor, chief radiology technologist, as well as director or department administrator. It is also noteworthy to mention that some of these positions, such as that of the director, may actually require candidates to have graduate education. Bachelor’s degrees in radiology help towards this end, since one cannot enroll in a master’s degree program without first obtaining one’s bachelor degree.

Coursework in one of these degrees will cover the topics of medical imaging in the digital environment, management principles for imaging professionals, and issues and trends in healthcare. Students may also be able to specialize in certain areas, such as CT or MRI scanning. Admission requirements to a bachelor's degree program typically include a high school diploma or equivalent, along with an admissions essay or statement of purpose.

Professional Certification

Most professional certification in this field is voluntary, although some employers either require candidates to be certified to be hired or simply prefer to hire such individuals. The earning of professional certification also presents a valuable opportunity for radiology technicians to network with one another as well as to keep abreast of the latest developments within this line of work.

One of the foremost certifying agencies within this field is the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. While earning credentials from this agency is largely voluntary, there are a number of states which utilize examinations administered by this professional agency as part of their state licensing requirements.

Certification is available for individuals who have graduated from programs that have been accredited by an ARRT-approved accrediting agency. Applicants will also need to pass an examination. Furthermore, there is a re-certification process necessary for individuals to keep their credential, which primarily requires them to finish a minimum of 24 hours of continuing education credits every two years.

Program Accreditation

The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) is the only U.S. Department of Education approved agency responsible for the accreditation of radiologic programs. The best course of action is to begin the search for an accredited program is through JRCERT by visiting the JRCERT website or by contacting their offices, located in Chicago, Illinois.

Prospective students searching for an accredited program on JRCERT's website will be able to narrow down the options by location, type of degree specialty, when they are able to attend school, and what type of degree they are pursuing. With their list of options in hand, they can start the process of evaluating the entrance qualifications for each one and applying to various programs. Additionally, by attending a JRCERT-approved institution, a student may also qualify for student loans and grant funds via the U.S. Department of Education.


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