Advice for Getting Hired as a Radiologic Technologist
We asked several leaders in the radiology technology field to share their best advice for students for getting hired as a radiologic technologist after graduation. Here are their responses:
Michael D. Ward: My recommendation for someone seeking employment as a radiologic technologist would include working hard to prove your value and worth to the team while in the clinical setting and during interactions with your peers and faculty. Having people serve as your advocate in your absence should be a goal for all of us. This is accomplished by be a professional everywhere and all of the time. Whether a person is a long time registered technologist or is new to the workforce, having a good reputation and practicing to the highest level of your skills makes you a great candidate for getting hired and maintaining a job.
-Michael D. Ward, PhD, RT(R), FASRT, is past president of the International Society of Radiographers and Radiological Technologists (ISRRT) and past president and Life Member of the American Society of Radiologic Technologists.
Joy A. Cook: When talking to students about getting hired as a radiologic technologist, I advise them to start their professional networking early. When students take full advantage of becoming members of their local, state, or national professional organizations they have the opportunity to start meeting and networking with individuals already in the field of imaging sciences. The individual students meet during the networking process may be great resources to help find an open position, become a professional reference, or even hire you. The networking process already occurs during your clinical education. Students should take advantage of the time they spend in different clinical facilities or rotations. While clinical work is part of the educational process, it also might be the start of a yearlong interview as the facilities students practice in may be looking to hire upon graduation. During clinical education students want to show those they work around, with, and for their best personality and work traits; it might be the difference between a job interview or the job offer.
-Joy A. Cook, MS, RT(R)(CT)(MR) ARRT is past president and the current Bylaws Committee Chair of the Indiana Society of Radiologic Technologists and Program Director at the Radiologic and Imaging Sciences Program, University of Southern Indiana.
Donna L. Thaler Long: Dependability is one of the most sought-after qualities in a job candidate. When employers call me for reference checks, they frequently ask about students’ attendance and punctuality. Many facilities are trying to do more with less, so they look for employees who will show up to work on time and do the best possible job every day. Students who prove they are reliable in both the classroom and clinic have an advantage in the job market.
Having the right skills is essential to getting a job in radiologic technology – but what really helps set someone apart from his or her peers is confidence. Pointing out your strengths and painting a picture of why you’re the best person for that specific job will help you make a great first impression. You can build your confidence by investigating the facility prior to your interview. Are you interviewing for a job in a standalone, outpatient clinic? Or would you be working the night shift in an emergency department? What is the organization’s mission? Knowing this information ahead of time will help you identify and communicate why you’re the best fit.
I encourage students and medical imaging and radiation therapy professionals to gain new skills and try new things. You may not get your dream job right out of the gate, but take a chance on an opportunity. You may end up loving it! Be willing to learn (additional education shows initiative!) and use free tools like LinkedIn and online forums to connect with others, stay up to date on trends and find job openings.
In addition, get involved in professional organizations like the American Society of Radiologic Technologists or your state society. It will help you meet new people, learn from leaders in the profession and advance your career.
-Donna L. Thaler Long, MSM, RT(R)(M)(QM), FASRT, is past Chairman of the Board of the American Society of Radiologic Technologists.
Sandra Hayden: How you present yourself makes a difference when it comes to getting a job. Make an effort to be polished and dress professionally. Be aware that the way you look, dress and speak play a part in an interviewer’s impression of you and could potentially help or hinder your chances of getting the job. Remember that the way you correspond via phone, social media and e-mail and how you conduct yourself in person potentially indicate to an interviewer how you might communicate with patients and coworkers.
Also, sometimes employers look for candidates who already have specific training in the equipment they would be required to use. If you’ve only been trained on one type of equipment or medical records system, seek out a colleague or friend who has experience with different ones and ask him or her to help you learn more. You can also go to the vendor’s website as they often have links to videos and educational tools. Look for opportunities to observe new equipment and become familiar with its benefits and drawbacks. Hiring someone with prior knowledge and experience makes it easier for an employer because they won’t have to spend as much time and resources training you. Knowing their equipment and systems gives you an edge over the competition.
One way for students to get their foot in the door may be to take a job in any capacity at the place where they are completing their clinical training, such as working weekends in transportation. Sometimes job hunters have an advantage over other candidates if they’re already in the system. It’s easier and often more beneficial to a facility to hire from within.
–Sandra Hayden, MA, RT(T) is past vice president and currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the American Society of Radiologic Technologists and is the Interim Program Director and Assistant Professor in Radiation Therapy at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
Izzy Ramaswamy: New graduates have many things in common on a resume and don’t stick out from each other very much. As a hiring manager I can tell you your grades take a back seat to the things listed below.
- Get certified: While you are out looking for work, pad your resume with certifications. BLS, ACLS, even CCT if you are interested in a cath lab tech position; most departments are looking for RCIS eligible applicants. RT’s do qualify with the science degree and the CCT is a great start in getting the knowledge base. It’s a great way to get in the door.
- Take entry level positions: At Baptist Health, we have RN’s and RT’s that get hired in as transporters, PCA’s and CVA’s to get in and get experience. It also gives you a chance to strut your stuff and prove to the managers that you have the right ingredients to move up into what you are qualified to do, and should you prove that by hustling you are sure to be hired into the next available position prior to an external.
- Prepare for your interview: Many places are doing panel interviews, we do too; the first is with the managers and the second is with the Peers. Be prepared for situational questions, be prepared to tell stories about how you interact with and relate to patients, also how you would manage a disgruntled physician or a colleague that is being unprofessional. Stress related questions and how you handle them should be part of most interviews, be ready for them. Also do your research on the facility, by reading their website; mission statement and maybe what kinds of expansions they are working on, e.g. a cancer center or an endovascular hybrid suite. The management will light up knowing you did some reading about them.
- Community Service: If you participate in charity events like the heart walk, or Habitat for Humanity, or any other of the many available community events be sure to list them. If you don’t participate then you should–in at least one a year.
- Be Persistent: Twice in my career I was hunted down by a job seeker and I ended up hiring both of them with great success. There is a fine line between persistence and annoying, don’t cross it but make sure to sell yourself in the short time you may get in front of the right person.
–Izzy Ramaswamy MS, RT (R, CV), is past president of the Association of Vascular and Interventional Radiographers. He is currently the Director of Radiology at HCA Florida Westside Hospital in Plantation, Florida.
Chandra Gerrard: The best advice for being hired as a radiologic technologist is to stand out amongst your peers. Having additional modalities shows the prospective employer you have an interest in your profession and allows you to be a more valuable team member. Another area to focus on is your performance while in a clinical environment. During the rotations that take place during radiography programs and advanced modality programs, the technologists working with you as a student will remember how you performed in the clinical environment. What is remembered most is whether you were a ‘go-getter’ or if you understood the mechanics of performing the examinations. If you are unable to acquire your advanced certification in the modality you want to work, it is worthwhile to arrange a time to volunteer in that modality and allow that department to see you and remember who you are. Face time is extremely valuable in a flooded market.
Cindy Reszke: I feel that the best advice to getting hired as a radiologic technologist is to treat your clinical education as a job interview. The programs are long and very demanding, but it is important to consistently put your best effort forward. Some other advice I have would be to know the difference between confident and arrogant, as well as assertive and aggressive. So often students turn off managers and other technologists because they act like they “know it all” instead of taking constructive criticism and learning from every situation. Being a hard worker that puts patient care above all else is what managers are looking for. Technical abilities are great to come in with, but they can be taught. It is difficult, if not impossible to teach someone to be a good, caring and hard working person.
–Cindy Reszke MA Ed, RT (R) (QM) is a past president of the Michigan Society of Radiologic Technologists and is currently Radiography Program Coordinator and Professor of Radiography at Delta College.
Jason Eisenbeisz: My best advice for getting hired as a radiologic technologist after graduation is to network and generate contacts, leads, and references during your student internship. All radiologic technologists are required to complete a term of on the job training prior to taking the exam and getting licensed. Although this may seem like slave labor, it’s actually a golden opportunity to gain experience as well as display your willingness and ability to do the job. Oftentimes, students will be hired on at the hospital or clinic where they performed their internship when they are done.
In order to leverage this opportunity, be sure and do your best to please your host. For example, show up on time, make sure your uniform is clean, and follow orders. Stay clear of office gossip or scandal in the workplace. Don’t be afraid to bring up safety or patient care problems to management, but try not to complain about trivial issues. Make friends and have those friends put the word out that you will be in the market for a job soon.
Doctors are fickle creatures and you will have to learn to live with them. Addressing them as ‘Sir’ or ‘Ma’am’ can’t hurt. Keep in mind that the doctors went through hell to get where they are and they deserve respect. Remember that you get more bees with honey than with vinegar. Plus, many of the doctors in an area tend to know each other. So if you can leave your internship with a couple of good letters of recommendation from doctors, this will be a huge feather in your cap.
Beth Gibbs: The applicant needs to be personable and knowledgeable about the imaging field and recent advancements into the digital realm. Patient care skills are highly important and should be brought up in an interview as specific examples of how the applicant would treat our diverse patient population while remaining professional. Body language should be open and approachable, smiling and not talking too much during an interview. Answer the question asked without adding extraneous personal information. In addition, an RT should look outside of their immediate area for employment. If near a city with many RT schools, such as Philadelphia, the RT should widen their search to smaller towns or communities with hospitals, imaging centers, doctors’ offices such as orthopedic physicians and specialists. Lastly, know something about the facility you are hoping to work for. Research their specialties so the interviewer knows you have done your homework and have a sincere interest in their community and customer base.
Elizabeth Price: My advice for getting hired as a radiologic technologist could be called the 3 P’s – pursue every lead; persistence – be assertive and have an open line of communication with your contact; patience – something will open up to you.
–Elizabeth Price is the former Director of Radiologic Sciences, and currently serves as the Associate Dean – Science, Engineering, Mathematics, and Technology, at Rowan College at Burlington County in New Jersey.
Dr. Charles I. Drago:
- Your clinical rotations in x-ray school show your best interviewing skills. If you show up on time and are willing to work that shows good work ethic.
- First impressions count so dress appropriately for interviews.
- Remember to listen; listening is important to effective communication.
- If you are an aspiring Radiologic Technologist, do your homework and visit the ARRT and ASRT websites, and volunteer.
- Never let anyone take away your passion, if this is what you truly want then go for it!
- Always follow up with a note or email thanking that person for helping you whether it be for an interview or information you acquired.
–Dr. Charles I. Drago, DH.Ed, RT(R) is Acting Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs and the Chair of the Allied Health Sciences Department at Hostos Community College is past president of The Association of Educators in Radiologic Technology of the State of New York, Inc.
Joel Hicks: At one time, students in a radiologic science program could expect to graduate on a Friday and start a job in their new profession on Monday. While this still happens occasionally, the unfortunate truth is that most graduates have to work to find work. Based on my experience as a clinical coordinator for the radiologic science program at Northwestern State University of Louisiana, there are a few things that students can do to help set themselves apart in their job search.
- Understand that your entire time in clinical rotations while in your program is basically an extended job interview. Managers may take notice of you while you rotate through their departments, but more importantly, the technologists in each site are evaluating you. Very often, department heads will ask the opinions of the technologists in the department regarding who would be a good employee. Students who are cheerful, punctual, and willing to do what’s asked during their clinical rotation are the same students who receive the recommendations from technologists.
- Take advantage of every opportunity given during your time in school. This can be everything from CPR classes to fulfilling requirements to take a CT or MR registry. Employers want employees who can step in and work. Everything that you can provide that will keep you from losing time will be a benefit to your employer and ultimately, to you. For example, if you are offered a CPR recertification class before your graduation, that means that your employer won’t have to send you for CPR recertification for at least a year. While rotating through CT in your program, if you document the procedures that you participate in, this means that you will be much closer to becoming eligible to take the CT registry. Again, employers will appreciate this.
- Use any other education that you have to your advantage. If you earned an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration before entering your radiology program, this may be something that your potential employer finds useful.
- Finally, be prepared for the interview. Think about those questions that are often asked; what are your best attributes, is there a situation where you demonstrated your ability to make a critical decision, etc. There are many websites that are dedicated to helping prepare you for the interview. I encourage every student to use these websites to be better prepared.
–Joel Hicks, MSRS, RT(R) is the Dean of the College of Nursing and School of Allied Health and past Clinical Coordinator of the Radiologic Science Program at Northwestern State University. Check out our career interview with Joel for more great advice.
Carla Allen: My advice for getting hired as a radiologic technologist is three-fold:
- Choose to attend a radiography program that has a reputation for producing high-quality graduates. Particularly, ask technologists and imaging department managers in the areas where you would like to get a job. Being a graduate of a program with a great reputation in Kentucky or Ohio, might not be particularly helpful in securing a job in Washington or Arizona, for example.
- Remember that the radiology community is small. Your behavior and demonstrated initiative in the clinical sites can impact (both positively and negatively) the references that are given to your prospective employers. This occurs even if you do not list people from a particular facility as possible references on your application. Department managers do not hesitate to call their friends to get their impressions. Along the same lines, know that it is the interpersonal skills that can make all of the difference. Are you kind and considerate of patients, their families, staff in the imaging department? Do people see you as someone who jumps in and helps EVERY time or are you someone who has to be prompted to do things? Are you on time, in place and rarely absent? Do you display a positive attitude to others regardless of the circumstances of the day or are you a complainer? It is these sorts of things that determine whether people want you as a permanent part of their healthcare team.
- Don’t be choosy. Getting that first imaging job on your resume is critical, and you need to have something secured before the class behind you graduates, or prospective employers wonder if you have maintained your skills and “what is wrong with you” that you haven’t secured a job earlier. These types of concerns make it even harder to get a job in a tight job market. This may mean that you need to take a PRN position or one working evenings, nights, or weekends. The job may not be in your ideal location, or may require you to move. Be willing to do what it takes to get that first job. Once you have a job, you are in a much better position to seek out your dream position. – And once you get that first job, everything in point 2 is still applicable.
–Carla Allen, MEd, RT(R)(CT) is a past vice president of the Missouri Society of Radiologic Technologists and is currently Program Director and Teaching Professor of Radiography at the University of Missouri.
Jeniesa Johnson: The best advice I can give to anyone trying to get hired as a radiologic technologist is to be flexible, adaptable, and willing to work as a team.
- You are on a one or two-year interview the entire time you are in clinic. If the program you graduate from utilizes different clinics in the first and second years, you will have two references the potential employer can gather information from. Students fail to realize how small the radiology community is. Someone knows someone at a different facility. Punctuality, attitude, and cooperation (initiative) are very good qualities to have and have been displayed during clinicals.
- If the position a student is seeking is not available, do not hesitate to take a PRN position. It is amazing how quickly a PRN position can evolve into a full-time or permanent part-time position. Be willing to work the odd shifts.
- Consider working at facilities other than a hospital. Often the emergency clinics will train you to be a medical assistance (phlebotomy, EKGs, office management skills, etc).
- Consider the possibility of taking a pay cut.
- Prepare yourself for the future by learning a new modality.
- Summarize the value of your experience versus a new graduate (without being condescending).
In summary, if you get a face-to-face interview, be professionally dressed (business casual), take nothing for granted, and anticipate some potential questions and be prepared with answers. One good question every job seeker should ask him/herself, “Why should I hire you?”
Another area of concern, many facilities utilize online applications and telephone interview screenings. Do not make your application too wordy; be concise and to the point. When doing a phone interview, envision the person sitting across from you and it will make all the difference in your responses and tone of voice. Be creative with the new hiring practices, try to get your application in the hands of the radiology director, lead/team leader, and/or personally talk with him/her. Pursuing this avenue will ensure the person making the decision will be aware of who you are.
-Jeniesa Johnson RT(R), RDMS has served in multiple roles in the radiologic sciences and is currently Co-Business Manager for the North Texas Radiologic Technologist Society.
Vicki Burnett: Radiologic Technologist must be creative in this job market. First, I recommend to seek out opportunities to visit radiology departments and imaging centers and interact with the staff and see first hand what it will be like to work there. There may be opportunities to work in the department at the front desk or as transporters while attending school. Showing this initiative will certainly set candidates apart from the other students who will be rushing to get jobs after graduation. Second, I recommend joining your state affiliate society and network with imaging professionals who may know of job opportunities. The affiliate society offers professional growth and development opportunities that will certainly help candidates to advance their potential of landing the perfect job.
-Vicki Burnett, MHA, RT(R)(T) is past board chair of the North Carolina Society of Radiologic Technologists, Inc.
Jason Barrett: As a veteran radiologic technologist, and a dual credentialed Radiology Practitioner Assistant (RPA) and Radiologist Assistant (RRA) I look back on all the successes and failures that I had getting to where I am today. My best advice to anyone looking to become radiologic technologist is summed up in the following bullet points:
- Shadow in the hospital radiology department. Watch other technologists and learn what roles they play in the healthcare delivery process.
- Ask questions about the many modalities within the radiology field; i.e. MRI, CT, Interventional Radiology, Ultrasound, Dexa, Mammography
- Contact leaders in the radiology field.
- Ask for a sit-down with a Radiology physician.
- Attend a radiology conference whether on the state level or national level. This is a great place to see how valuable radiology imaging is to the patients we serve. It also is a great place to see the latest technologies being used in imaging.
Dr. Charles Newell: For entry level or even experienced radiographers, I strongly recommend they acquire an additional modality beyond radiography, e.g., CT, MRI, Vascular, Mammography, Ultrasound because today’s administrators are looking for individuals with multiple skills thereby making the employee capable of functioning in more than one capacity. I would also recommend that radiographers work on their verbal communication skills and personal professional mannerisms and appearance.
-Dr. Charles Newell was previously chair of the Radiologic Sciences at the University of South Alabama.
Marie Leodore: The best advice to get hired is to be dual certified or to pursue a skill that complements radiography such as LPN or information systems.
-Marie Leodore was previously Director of the Radiography Program, Allied Health, and Continuing Education at Bucks County Community College in Pennsylvania.
Dan Singer: Project and indicate to all employers that you are the understanding human bridging the patient, the image, and the radiologist. This key dynamic separates the best technologist from the average.
-Dan Singer is past president of the Florida Radiological Society.
Cecile L. Williams: The best advice for getting hired as a radiologic technologist in the healthcare market today would be to have a passion for people. Then be able to communicate that passion on your resume and in the interview process as patient-care excellence. Patient care is at the top of the list on healthcare missions and goals statements. Aspiring technologists should be involved in their city or state ASRT affiliate chapter. This will open doors of opportunities for employment, leadership, and governing issues affecting the profession. Also, these suggestions are very impressive on the resume of an aspiring radiologic technologist.
Jeremy Enfinger: Much of any radiography student’s ability to be hired will be determined during the clinical rotation while in school. The technologists usually make the determination whether or not a student is going to be brought on board if a position is available, even though the supervisor or manager has the final say. Keep the following things in mind during your clinical rotations:
- Communication – should be clear and concise. The first thing a technologist will note about a student is whether or not they can take instruction and utilize the knowledge given to them to consistently make improvements. Not every tech has the mindset to ambitiously share their knowledge teaching, so be a good listener and take any instruction given into practice. The ability to communicate with patients is just as important for high quality patient care.
- Initiative – always keep busy. Find out where you can make the best contribution to the day’s tasks (while maintaining your program’s rotational requirements). If the department is slow, make sure you are doing something like cleaning or stocking supplies, and keep your eyes open for exams and volunteer to perform them. Answer the phone when you can. You may not have the answers right away for questions being asked, but neither will a new technologist. Learn how to make maximum use of software like how to edit and cancel exams. Learn the workflow and how to send for patients. Get experience watching and performing quality control testing, how to check off crash carts, or any other daily duty you can think of which would be required of a staff technologist. Mastering the skills that would be expected of a new hire will give you a competitive edge.
- Progress in technical skills – no one expects you to be super tech, but you should be making regular progress toward becoming competent in every procedure performed at your clinical site. Everyone has that one particular exam that seems difficult and we tend to shy away from those. Don’t. Grab the bull by the horns and don’t be afraid to learn other ways to attempt that exam from the variety of technologists who feel comfortable doing it. You may end up liking that particular procedure and helping a future student to succeed in that area. And I can’t stress this enough; learn your way around a c-arm. One of the biggest criticisms I have seen for new grads in all the years I’ve been teaching is being uncomfortable in the OR. It’s one of the proficiencies I ask about when I interview candidates for a job. It can be intimidating for any technologist with any level of experience to perform a surgical procedure with physicians you are unfamiliar with, but having the basic knowledge of equipment controls is more than 50% of the battle, so get as much as you can from your clinical internship in this area. There’s something new to learn every day as a technologist… look for those opportunities.
- Good attitude – technical skills can be taught for most people, but being professional and having a good attitude in general will win you many points with those you work with. Everyone has problems, life challenges and difficulties, but if you complain all day long or get easily distracted from your work regularly, no one will want you on their team. If you’ve ever worked any job, you can probably think of at least one person like this. There’s an appropriate time and place for complaints, but be ready to present a solution and possess the willingness to take an active part in that solution.
- Keep an open mind – most students hope they get hired by the site they’re at for their clinical rotations, but this can’t always happen, especially in the competitive job market of today. This is why you need to network. After you’ve achieved all the technical skills required, displayed ambition and a can-do attitude, you must still consider looking outside your training facility for work. I always tell potential hires to avoid putting all their eggs in one basket (especially when you don’t have an unlimited quantity of eggs). Sure, you may end up having to travel, work an undesired shift, or work without benefits for a period of time, but avoid having the expectation that you will be hired at your clinical site. Don’t trust anyone who promises you a position before you have your license in hand. They may truly have the best intentions of hiring you, but they may not have the authority or budget to pick you up when it’s time to make that decision.
–Jeremy Enfinger, BS, ARRT(R), CRT(F) is the Manager for Systemwide Staffing Resource Center for Scripps Health, Adjunct Radiography Instructor for San Diego Mesa College, and Author of Becoming a Radiologic Technologist.
Annette Ferguson: The best advice to give an actively looking Radiologic Technologist is to make sure that you graduate with a minimum of an associate degree from an appropriately accredited college and pass the registry as soon as possible.
-Annette Ferguson MSRS, RT(R) is former President of the Alabama Society of Radiologic Technologists and currently serves as a Clinical Coordinator/Advisor for the Radiologic Technology Program at Jefferson State Community College.
Rob McLaughlin: Our faculty encourages graduates to seek out advanced degrees and specialized imaging modalities upon completion of the program. The faculty members receive information to assist students in locating employment opportunities. Graduates should not restrict themselves in finding the first employment opportunity, nor should they wait until they pass the national board exam. They are found by research, networking, and being patient; and by starting 2-3 months before graduation. Sometimes it takes more than one employment position to find the right one. Also, students need to understand that most job openings may not be full-time positions. Finding PRN or part-time employment has been increasingly popular and helps getting a “foot in the door.”
Christina Rule: For me, getting my name out there: volunteering for the state affiliate, going to the conferences, and shadowing at hospitals really helped me to find possible future employers. I now work for the very person I met through volunteering and conferences.
-Christina Rule RT(R) is the past secretary and Facebook editor of the Montana Society of Radiologic Technologists.
Sharon Miller: Over the years, I have developed some advice for my students on how to get hired in medical imaging positions. I tell students to always take pride in their work. They should strive to be punctual, to display a good attitude, and to practice excellent communication skills. Students must prove they will be valuable employees to the institution. To be honest and demonstrate integrity in all aspects of the profession is of utmost importance. Above all, displaying the willingness to always improve and learn is essential. Lifelong learning can be facilitated by becoming involved in professional organizations at both the state and national level. It is these traits that employers will value in their employees.
If you would like to contribute to this resource by sharing your advice for students, please email us at [email protected].