Radiologic Technology Certificate
Radiologic technologists, sometimes called radiologic technicians, radiology techs, rad techs, or radiology technicians, use a range of medical devices to create images of the body that can be used in the diagnosis and treatment of various health issues. Advances in medical imaging have created numerous imaging tools found in hospital and clinic settings across the country, and, therefore, a broad need for health professionals who can capture and analyze medical images accurately and professionally. The field of radiology encompasses many specializations, including radiography, x-ray, sonography, and medical resonance imaging (MRI). Typically, radiologic technologists must first gain foundational education and experience in radiology before pursuing a specialized career in one of these areas. Earning a certificate in radiologic technology or radiology typically takes one to two years of full-time study and prepares graduates for entry-level jobs in this rapidly-changing field.
Two types of certificates are commonly available through community colleges and universities and on this page, you will find information about both. First, individuals with no formal training or experience may be interested in a foundational certificate program. As many states require radiologic technologists to be licensed by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), which requires applicants to complete an associate’s degree, foundational certificate programs are often completed after or in combination with an associate’s degree program. Foundational radiologic technology certificate programs for students who already have an associate’s degree as well as programs for students who want to earn a certificate as part of an associate’s degree program are widely available. The second type of radiologic technology certificate program is for experienced radiologic professionals who want to further develop their skills and expertise in either a specific modality or in practice with a specific population, such as children or older adults.
According to O*NET OnLine, radiologic technologist positions have a higher than average projected growth rate of between 9-13% based on an estimated 54,400 job openings through 2024.1 The average salary for this position was $57,450 in 2014.1
Individuals with no prior formal training in radiologic technology should have at least a high school diploma or GED. Some programs require prerequisite college-level courses in related subjects, such as anatomy, physiology, and biology, while others may require students to have an associate’s degree completed prior to applying. Due to these diverse requirements, be sure to check each program you are considering before applying. For specialized certificate programs, often ARRT or state licensure plus the completion of an accredited associate’s or bachelor’s degree program is required. All applicants will likely be required to submit relevant transcripts and may also need to submit references, a personal essay, or proof of job shadowing as part of the application process.
Core Concepts and Coursework
Rad tech certificate programs teach students about anatomy and related sciences as well as the fundamental skills needed to take and analyze medical images. Courses in an RT program may include:
- Foundations of Radiology
- Radiographic Procedures
- Advanced Anatomy
- Medical Ethics
- Patient Care
- Image Analysis
- Radiographic Exposure
- Digital Imaging & Display
- Radiologic Physics
- Advanced Imaging
Radiologic Technology Certificate Learning Goals
1. Develop clinical competency in radiologic imaging procedures.
Radiologic technicians or technologists must learn how to take accurate and detailed medical images while minimizing the patient’s exposure to harmful radiation. This includes properly positioning the patient and the equipment, effectively communicating with patients and colleagues, and correctly analyzing images. Teaching students how to provide high-quality patient care in a safe environment is a top priority for radiology tech certificate programs.
2. Act in a professional and ethical manner in accordance with licensure guidelines.
Students will develop an understanding of the professional expectations and medical ethics guiding the radiologic technology field. Frequent interaction with patients of diverse backgrounds and medical histories requires attention to detail and a skilled application of knowledge to practice. By completing a radiologic technology certificate program, graduates will be well-prepared to enter the workforce and maintain a positive professional demeanor.
3. Acquire the knowledge needed to pass the ARRT exam (if needed).
As many students will work in a state where licensure is required, the radiology certificate program should prepare students with the necessary information to pass the exam upon graduation if needed. Programs approved by the ARRT will include the relevant course content; however, it is the student’s responsibility to ensure they are prepared for classes and complete assignments and clinical internships on time.
Traditional Radiologic Technology Certificate Programs
The Center for Allied Health Education (CAHE) provides comprehensive training leading to an ARRT-approved certificate of radiography. Two pathways are offered depending on whether the applicant already has an associate’s degree. Pathway I takes approximately 20 months to complete through full-time study for students with an associate’s degree. Applicants without an associate’s degree must follow Pathway II and complete additional coursework to fulfill the general education requirements. Due to the intensive nature of the coursework and clinical rotations, part-time study is not permitted. CAHE partners with New York Methodist Hospital to provide training opportunities, with St. Francis College and Clarion University of Pennsylvania to offer transfer credit towards a bachelor’s degree, and with SUNY Empire State College for Pathway II students to earn an associate’s degree simultaneously.
Hillyard Technical Center offers a certificate in radiography suitable for students who already have an associate’s degree or higher. This program prepares graduates for entry-level jobs in the radiography field and meets the certification requirements of the ARRT. The program is offered full-time through an intensive combination of coursework and clinical experience over 23 months. The requirements include core courses in radiography such as patient care in radiologic science, radiographic procedures, and image acquisition and evaluation. Applicants must complete prerequisite courses in anatomy, science, math, and English prior to admittance in the program. The program also offers a collaborative associate’s degree program for students without a prior degree that includes general education requirements. These students will simultaneously be enrolled in and complete courses at Hillyard Technical Center and at a Radiologic Technology/Science degree program at North Central Missouri College (NCMC), the University of Central Missouri (UCM), or Northwestern Missouri State University (NWMSU).
The certificate in radiography at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is offered in collaboration with Duke University Medical Center and UNC Hospitals to provide students with many learning opportunities close to the campus. An associate’s degree with at least a 2.8 grade point average (GPA) is required for admission, including at least a B grade in prerequisite biology, anatomy, and physiology courses. Beginning in May each year, students take courses in radiologic procedures, ethics, and pathology and complete the program in approximately 18 months. The department also offers a Master’s in Radiologic Science leading to the radiologic assistant designation. UNC-Chapel Hill was ranked #5 among Top Public Schools and the #12 Best Value School by US News & World Report in 2017.
Online Radiologic Technology Certificate Programs
For students with a specific interest in women’s health, Fort Hays State University offers an online certificate in women’s imaging with a required one-week residency on campus. The certificate comprises eight credits including principles of bone densitometry, mammography for radiologic technologists, and advanced mammography for radiologic technologists. Applicants must already be practicing radiologic technicians. The program can be used towards continuing education credits for the ARRT or simply to develop a specialization in an area of interest. The university also offers an on-campus associate’s degree in radiologic technology, on-campus and online bachelor’s degrees in medical diagnostic imaging, and related online certificates.
Licensure as a registered technologist varies between states and is often mandatory. Licensure can be managed by the state, through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), or both. In order to become licensed as a registered technologist, you must meet the educational requirements and pass the exam(s) adopted by the state in which you wish to work. If you plan to work in a state that requires licensure, you will typically need to complete an associate’s degree in the RT field. If your degree is not related to radiologic technology or approved by the ARRT, completing an approved certificate program may also allow you to meet the requirements to take the exam. Licensure is organized by primary pathway, including radiography, nuclear medicine technology, radiation therapy, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and sonography. More advanced technologists can also specify a post-primary pathway specialization from among several options. Licensure must be renewed annually and typically requires proof of continuing education as well as long-term training every 10 years.
Jobs with a Radiology Certificate
Graduates with a radiologic technology certificate may find jobs in a variety of areas depending on the focus of the program. For more information on jobs related to the field, see our Radiology Careers page. Job titles may include:
- Radiology Technologist
- Radiologic Technologist
- X-Ray Technologist
- Limited Scope X-Ray Machine Operator
- Rad Tech
- Radiologic Technician
- Radiology Technician
- X-Ray Technician
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a radiologic technology certificate to work in this field?
Not necessarily. The requirements vary by state and, in some unique cases, no formal education is required to apply for entry-level positions; however, due to the complex and rapidly-changing nature of radiologic technology, earning a certificate and becoming licensed can help you secure a job faster or move up from an entry-level position.
What is the typical salary for a radiologic technologist?
According to O*NET OnLine, in 2014, the median salary for a radiologic technologist was $57,450.1
Where do radiologic technology certificate graduates work?
Radiologic technology certificate programs prepare graduates for entry-level positions in hospitals, clinics, research laboratories, and other medical facilities focused on the diagnosis and treatment of patients. The radiology field is part of the allied health profession and graduates often work with other healthcare professionals.
Can I complete a radiologic technology certificate online?
Fully online radiologic technology certificate programs are rare, as most foundational certificate programs require students to complete at least one clinical placement or internship arranged by the school. These placements provide students with hands-on experience and allow instructors the opportunity to evaluate a student’s skills and progress. Specialization certificates for technologists who are already licensed in at least one modality may be found online; however, most certificate programs are offered on-campus.
1. O*NET OnLine, Radiologic Technologists: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/29-2034.00