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How to Become a Radiologic Technician

Radiologic Technician Job Description

radiologic technicianAs the name implies, the responsibilities of a radiologic technician include performing clear and accurate diagnostic imaging examinations such as x-rays for medical facilities. In order to help patients and doctors diagnose potential health issues, an x-ray technician is needed to perform quality x-rays on patients.

There are several alternative names for a radiologic technician such as a limited scope x-ray machine operator and x-ray technician. The primary job of a technician is to properly administer x-rays, which includes following the many safety procedures required as well as walking the patient comfortably through the procedure.

As with most medical professions, a radiologic technician must learn a vast vocabulary of medical terminology used in the areas of anatomy, physiology, and pathology.

There is a significant difference between a radiologic technician and radiologic technologist. Technologists (also referred to as radiographers) are licensed professionals who can perform advanced imaging procedures and operate many types of medical imaging equipment. In contrast, technicians have a limited scope of practice and are not allowed to perform certain imaging procedures. The scope of practice varies by location and is determined by each state’s department of health. If you are interested in becoming a technologist, see our page about how to become a radiologic technologist.

Radiologic technicians typically work in private medical facilities performing x-rays of extremities, arms, fingers, legs, ankles, etc. Radiologic technicians are expected to have strong interpersonal skills to make patients feel comfortable with the various procedures being performed.

Becoming a Radiologic Technician

The process of becoming a radiologic technician can vary from state to state. The most basic common route to begin a career as a technician is a high school diploma, followed by training from a radiologic technician program. Although the requirements for entering into a radiology training program may be fairly basic, those who have at least a minimal background in math, science, chemistry, biology, or physics will probably feel more comfortable with the medical courses required for this particular career. Although states may vary in their requirements, most medical facilities and employers require that radiologic technicians have formal training through a radiologic technician training program.

Career Opportunities and Employers

While radiologic technologists primarily work in hospitals or large medical centers, most radiologic technicians work at neighborhood clinics, imaging centers, and private medical practices. Radiologic technicians may also maintain imaging equipment, as well as help set up imaging equipment for use by radiologic technologists and other professionals. X-ray techs who are interested in career advancement typically return to school to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in medical imaging and qualify for radiologic technologist positions.

Radiology Technician Common Tasks

The typical work tasks that a radiology technician may perform include:

  • Preparing the exam room for x-ray examinations.
  • Explaining procedures to patients.
  • Positioning patients for effective x-ray imaging.
  • Ensuring patient safety during the exam.
  • Inputting documentation into the computer system.

Radiology Technician Salary and Job Outlook

The average radiology technician salary can vary depending on the state and employer. Radiologic technicians earn less than radiologic technologists due to the less stringent training requirements and their limited scope of practice. Currently, the BLS doesn’t provide specific data for radiologic technicians. However, the following BLS salary data for radiologic technologists can be used as a reference.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average radiologic technologist salary
in 2016 was $59,260 annually.1 The future of the radiologic technician looks promising due to a large number of aging baby boomers who will require health care and treatments. This is one factor driving the positive career outlook for radiologic technologists, with a projected growth rate of 9% for the profession through 2024.2 Read our radiologic technologist career page to learn more about becoming a radiologic technologist here.

References
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Radiologic Technologists: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292034.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Radiologic and MRI Technologists: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/radiologic-technologists.htm