Radiology Technicians are similar to ultrasound technicians in that they also perform diagnostic imaging examinations, but use X-ray technology. Radiology technologists use other imaging instruments like computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and mammography. Radiology technicians prepare patients for x-rays, explain the procedure, move them into position, place shields over exposed areas to protect against radiation, and set the controls on the x-ray machine to produce images at the correct density and detail. The most important ability a radiology technician must have is the ability to accurately follow doctor’s instructions so the doctors get exactly the image they need to diagnose the problem.
Radiology technicians make good money. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports a median annual salary of $52,210 in 2008, with the lowest 10% earning $35,100, and the highest wages nearing $80,000. Those working in physicians offices make the least amount of money, so if high income is your goal, look into positions at medical and diagnostic laboratories. Advancement usually requires specialization, like performing CT scans, mammography, or bone densitometry. Radiologist assistants also make more money but requires additional education and certification. If exposure to radiation is a concern, you might consider becoming an ultrasound technician.
Many states require licensure, though requirements vary. Technicians usually only have an associate degree, though some receive a certificate from 21-24 month programs. You should look for programs accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology, since these provide classroom and clinical instruction in anatomy, physiology, radiation physics, radiation protection, medical terminology, positioning patients, and other useful skills. Students will have an advantage if they took high school math, physics, chemistry and biology courses. Since technicians work closely with patients, they must have excellent people skills to calm nerves and work with patients who may be in pain. Associate’s degrees in radiography and bachelor’s degrees in radiological sciences are available online.