If you’ve ever watched a medical show, you’ve probably seen a black and white X-ray of broken bones, unlikely gunshot wounds, or dramatic injuries on your TV screen. All the attention is usually paid to the doctor looking at the slide, but be sure, there is an X-Ray technician in the background who did all the work. X-Ray Technicians, sometimes called Radiology Technicians, take images of the inside of the human body to help doctors diagnose diseases and fix broken bones. The ability to follow instructions from doctors is almost as important as having excellent people skills in this career, since you’ll deal with both every day.
Salaries for X-Ray technicians range from $35,000 to $75,000, with the median income around $52,000 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those who work in medical and diagnostic laboratories make the most money, whereas those who work out of physician’s offices make the least. X-Ray technicians who become credentialed in multiple imaging procedures like CT scans, MR, and mammography, have the best employment opportunities. Online programs often offer management courses in addition to regular coursework, which is another way to advance your career. Those interested in imaging might also consider careers as ultrasound technicians.
Producing X-rays is a lot more complicated than one might think, and radiology technicians must always be aware of protecting themselves and their patients from radiation. Courses tend to focus on math skills, physics, biology, and anatomy. Programs range from 18 months up to four years, depending on the degree, and all must be accredited by JRCERT, and are intended to prepare the student to take the board exam. Associate’s and bachelor’s degrees are available in radiology/radiography. There are also bachelor’s degrees in medical imaging sciences. Some states allow “limited scope” radiography in which students can focus on a specific body part, but to improve employment prospects, having a wide range of knowledge is key.