Health Career Center

Radiologic Technologists

Radiologic technologists and technicians conduct diagnostic imaging testing, which include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), mammography, computed tomography, and x-rays.

These specialists, also known as radiographers, develop x-rays (radiographs) of body sections, so doctors can diagnose health problems. They get patients ready for x-ray tests by explaining what will take place, removing anything on the patient that affects the test, and positioning them properly on the x-ray machine. To shield patients from unnecessary radiation exposure, radiologic technologists cover the exposed area with lead covers and decrease x-ray beam size. Radiographers place radiographic devices at the proper height and angle across the patientís body. Utilizing sophisticated measuring technology, radiographers measure the thickness of the area to be x-rayed and input instructions into the machine to develop radiographs of the proper contrast, detail, and density.

Radiologic technologists must strictly follow doctorsí recommendations and adhere closely to regulations governing radiation usage to avoid unsafe exposure to it.

In addition to administering x-ray examinations, radiologic technologists and technicians maintain medical records and calibrate x-ray equipment. Also, they may organize employee schedules, supervise other employees within the radiology department, and evaluate equipment purchases.

Some radiologic technologists administer complex imaging tests. For example, some technologists administer fluoroscopies, tests where patients drink a special solution that enables radiologists, doctors who interpret x-ray exams, to observe tissue and internal body functions.

CT technologists administer computer tomography (CT) scans. These tests emit high quantities of cross-sectional x-rays to specific parts of the body. These x-rays produce a 3-dimensional image. Since CT technology emits ionizing radiation, CT technologists must take safety precautions against radiation exposure.

MR technologists administer magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests. Similar to CT scans, MRI tests are used to take 3-dimensional pictures of the internal body cavity. However, MRI technology emits non-ionizing radio frequency to create internal images.

Education and Training
Many training options exist for people interested in radiologic technology. Training requirements differ by state, but these specialists are required to complete professional licensure in most states.

Professional certificates, associateís degrees, and bachelorís degrees are available in radiography. Most radiologic technologists and technicians earn associateís degrees. Some radiologic specialists complete professional certificate programs that take about 2 years to complete.

Formal radiography training program accreditation is conducted by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology. This organization has recognized 213 professional certificate programs, 397 associateís degree programs, and 35 bachelorís degree programs. Students enrolled in these programs complete courses in physiology, anatomy, radiation physics and protection, medical terminology, medical ethics, pathology, radiobiology, and patient care procedures.

Job Outlook
Job growth in this field is expected to increase at an above average rate. Those specializing in multiple diagnostic imaging tests, whether itís mammography, MR, or CT, enjoy better job opportunities.

Job growth for radiologic technologists is estimated to grow by 17 percent through 2018, a better than average rate compared to other industries. Increasing elderly populations is increasing the need for qualified radiologic imaging specialists. Older people are diagnosed with more disease and get injured easier, which results in increased need for diagnostic imaging testing. Diagnostic imaging technology is also utilized to monitor progress of medical procedures. Since technology has proven to be effective when diagnosing and treating disease, radiologic technology will be utilized more often for diagnostic and medical procedures.

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