How to Become a Radiologic Technologist (Scan for Success)

how to become a radiologic technologist

If you’ve ever been fascinated by medical imaging technology and wondered what it takes to become a Radiologic Technologist, you’re in the right place.

In this guide, we’ll delve into the EXACT steps you need to follow to jumpstart your career as a Radiologic Technologist. We’ll discuss:

  • The essential skills you need.
  • The education and certification required.
  • How to secure a job as a Radiologic Technologist.

So, whether you’re a newcomer to the medical field or a healthcare professional looking to specialize, stick around.

We’re about to unfold the step-by-step journey to becoming a Radiologic Technologist.

Let’s get started!

Contents show

Steps to Become a Radiologic Technologist


Step 1: Understand the Role of a Radiologic Technologist

Before starting your journey to become a Radiologic Technologist, it’s essential to understand what the role entails.

A Radiologic Technologist, also known as a radiographer, is a healthcare professional who specializes in the imaging of human anatomy for the diagnosis and treatment of pathology.

They use advanced equipment to create images of structures within the human body that are used by physicians to make a medical diagnosis.

Radiologic Technologists are responsible for accurately positioning patients and ensuring that a quality diagnostic image is produced.

They work closely with radiologists, the physicians who interpret medical images to either diagnose or rule out disease or injury.

The job requires strong technical knowledge and skills, excellent patient care abilities, and a keen eye for detail.

Additionally, working as a Radiologic Technologist can often be physically demanding, as it involves standing for long periods and assisting patients onto examination tables.

Understanding the duties, responsibilities, and physical demands of the role is the first step in deciding whether this is the right career path for you.

It’s also essential to recognize that a commitment to ongoing learning is crucial in this field, given the fast-paced advancements in medical imaging technologies.


Step 2: Complete Secondary Education with an Emphasis on Science and Math

As a Radiologic Technologist, it is crucial to have a strong foundational knowledge in the subjects of science and math.

Therefore, it is important to focus on these subjects during your secondary education.

This includes taking advanced coursework in biology, chemistry, physics, and math.

These subjects will serve as the basis for understanding the more advanced concepts you will encounter in your radiology training.

In addition to your coursework, you should also seek out opportunities to gain hands-on experience.

This could include science lab work, volunteering at a local hospital, or participating in a job shadowing program.

Remember, the goal of this step is not just to pass your classes, but to develop a deep understanding of these subjects.

This will greatly benefit you in your future studies and career as a Radiologic Technologist.


Step 3: Pursue an Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree in Radiologic Technology

After completing your secondary education, the next step is to earn a post-secondary degree in Radiologic Technology.

This can be an Associate’s degree, which typically takes two years to complete, or a Bachelor’s degree, which generally takes four years.

These programs will provide you with a combination of classroom instruction and clinical training.

You will learn about anatomy, patient positioning, examination techniques, equipment protocols, radiation safety, radiation protection, and basic patient care.

It’s also essential to choose a program that is accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) or another accrediting body.

Accreditation ensures that the program meets certain educational standards and will prepare you for the certification exam.


Step 4: Obtain Certification and Licensure

After graduating from an accredited Radiologic Technology program, you will need to pass a certification exam from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) or another certifying body.

This certification demonstrates that you have met the required educational and ethical standards.

In addition to certification, most states require Radiologic Technologists to be licensed.

Licensure requirements vary by state, so you will need to check with your state’s health board or radiologic technology board for specific information.


Step 5: Pursue Continuing Education and Specialization

Once you become a Radiologic Technologist, the learning doesn’t stop.

It’s important to continue your education to stay current with the latest advancements in technology and medical imaging techniques.

You can do this by attending seminars, workshops, and conferences, as well as by reading professional journals.

You may also want to consider specializing in a specific area of radiology, such as computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or mammography.

Specialization usually requires additional training and certification, but it can open up new career opportunities and increase your earning potential.


Step 3: Pursue an Accredited Radiologic Technology Program

After receiving your high school diploma or GED, the next step is to enroll in an accredited radiologic technology program.

This program offers the necessary education and training to become a radiologic technologist.

These programs could be found in various settings, including universities, community colleges, technical schools, or hospitals.

The duration of the program can range from two to four years, depending on whether you opt for an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree.

The coursework typically includes classes in anatomy, pathology, patient care, radiation physics and protection, image evaluation, and medical terminology.

Apart from classroom learning, hands-on training in a clinical environment is an essential part of these programs.

Make sure to choose a program accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT).

This accreditation ensures that the program meets the highest quality educational standards and would make you eligible to take the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification examination.

During this program, you may choose to specialize in a specific imaging technique such as mammography, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or nuclear medicine, among others.

Specialization can offer you more job opportunities and a higher salary in the future.


Step 4: Gain Hands-On Experience through Clinical Internships

As you’re progressing through your educational pathway, it’s crucial to gain hands-on experience in the field of radiology.

Most radiologic technologist degree programs will include a clinical internship component, which will provide you with the opportunity to work in a real-world healthcare setting under the supervision of experienced radiologic technologists and other medical professionals.

During your internship, you will learn how to use radiologic equipment, perform various imaging procedures, and interact with patients.

This practical experience will give you an understanding of the daily tasks and responsibilities of a radiologic technologist, and enable you to apply the theoretical knowledge you have gained during your studies.

The internship experience will also teach you soft skills such as communication, teamwork, patient care and problem-solving.

You’ll learn how to explain procedures to patients, how to work within a healthcare team, and how to handle unexpected situations that may arise during an imaging procedure.

Remember, the more real-world experience you gain, the better prepared you’ll be to enter the job market after graduation.

Keep a record of your internship, as it can be used to demonstrate your practical experience when applying for jobs.

You may also make valuable professional connections during your internship, which can help you in your job search later on.


Step 5: Obtain Certification and Licensure

After completing your degree program in radiologic technology, the next step is to obtain certification and licensure.

In most states, you are required to be licensed or certified in order to practice as a Radiologic Technologist.

The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) offers certification for radiologic technologists.

To earn this certification, you must graduate from an ARRT-approved education program and pass an exam.

This certification can demonstrate to employers your commitment to the profession and your competence in the field.

Additionally, you may need to apply for a state license.

Licensing requirements vary by state, so you should check with your state’s health board or licensing agency for specific information.

Usually, the process involves submitting an application, paying a fee, and passing an examination.

After getting certified, it is also important to keep up with continued education.

This not only helps you maintain your licensure and certification but also ensures that you stay up-to-date with the latest advancements and technology in the field.

Some technologists may choose to specialize in a specific imaging technique, such as mammography or computed tomography, and may need additional certifications for these specialties.

This can enhance your career prospects and lead to higher paying roles.


Step 6: Seek Employment in Hospitals or Diagnostic Imaging Centers

After completing your education and certification, start your job hunt.

The majority of Radiologic Technologists work in hospitals, but there are also opportunities in diagnostic imaging centers, physicians’ offices, and outpatient care centers.

Some technologists may also find employment in government or private research agencies.

When seeking employment, consider the type of environment you wish to work in.

Hospitals often offer a wider range of imaging procedures, giving you the chance to gain experience in various modalities.

However, they may also require irregular hours including nights, weekends, and on-call shifts.

On the other hand, outpatient centers and physicians’ offices might offer more regular work hours, but may not provide as much exposure to different imaging procedures.

You may also want to consider the location of your job.

Jobs in urban areas may offer higher salaries but can also have a higher cost of living.

Rural areas might have fewer job opportunities, but the cost of living is typically lower.

Remember, networking can play a crucial role in finding job opportunities.

Use your connections from school, internships, or clinical rotations to find potential job openings.

Don’t be afraid to use online job search resources or professional networking sites to find potential job opportunities.

Once you have secured a job, continue to learn and expand your skills.

The field of radiologic technology is constantly evolving, and continuing education will help you stay current and competitive in your profession.


Step 7: Specialize in a Particular Radiology Modality (Optional)

In the field of radiology, there are several specialized disciplines that a radiologic technologist can choose to focus on.

Some of these include computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), mammography, and nuclear medicine.

If you’re interested in advancing your career and diving deeper into a specific area, you can consider specializing in a particular modality.

This typically involves additional training and certification.

For instance, to specialize in MRI, you would need to complete an MRI technologist training program and pass the MRI certification exam administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).

By specializing in a specific modality, you can become a highly skilled professional in that particular field, increasing your job opportunities and earning potential.

This step is optional and depends on your career goals and interests.

You may choose to remain a general radiologic technologist or explore other advancement options within the field.


Step 8: Continue Professional Development

As a radiologic technologist, it is important to continue professional development throughout your career to stay abreast of the latest technological advancements and industry standards.

This can be achieved through various methods, such as attending continuing education courses, workshops, and seminars, both online and offline.

Joining professional associations like the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) can provide you with numerous learning opportunities and resources to keep your skills up-to-date.

They often offer continuing education credits required to maintain your certification.

Staying updated with the latest research and advancements in radiology can also enhance your knowledge and skills.

This can be done by reading scholarly articles, attending industry conferences, and participating in webinars.

Moreover, you can also consider specializing in a specific area of radiology, such as mammography, computed tomography, or magnetic resonance imaging.

This requires additional education and certification, but it can open up new career advancement opportunities.

Never stop learning and expanding your knowledge base as a radiologic technologist.

The field is always advancing, and to provide the best patient care, it’s important to stay updated with the latest tools, techniques, and best practices.


Step 9: Join Professional Organizations

Becoming a part of professional organizations is a good step to take in your career as a Radiologic Technologist.

Joining organizations such as the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) or the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) can provide opportunities for networking, continued education, and access to the latest industry news.

These organizations often offer members resources such as job listings, career advice, and opportunities to attend conferences or seminars.

These can help you to stay informed about the latest techniques and advancements in the field of radiology.

Moreover, being a member of these professional organizations can enhance your credibility in the field and provide you with the opportunity to connect with other professionals in radiology.

This can lead to job opportunities, collaborations, or simply the chance to learn from others’ experiences.

Remember, professional growth doesn’t stop at obtaining a job, it’s a continuous journey.

Being part of a professional organization keeps you on the path of constant learning, networking, and skill improvement.


Step 10: Adhere to Safety Protocols and Maintain Certification

As a radiologic technologist, it’s crucial that you adhere to the strict safety protocols in place to protect both yourself and patients from unnecessary exposure to radiation.

This includes wearing protective gear, using radiation shielding, and following the principle of ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) to minimize radiation doses.

It’s also essential that you maintain your certification through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).

This certification must be renewed every two years and requires you to complete 24 continuing education credits within that period.

These credits can be earned through courses, lectures, seminars, or workshops that further your knowledge and keep you up-to-date with the latest advancements in radiologic technology.

Furthermore, you must adhere to ARRT’s Rules of Ethics to ensure that you are providing the highest standard of patient care.

This involves practicing ethical behavior in all interactions with patients and colleagues, maintaining patient confidentiality, and continuing to seek out opportunities for professional growth and development.

By sticking to safety protocols and maintaining your certification, you can continue to develop your skills and provide high-quality care to your patients.

This, in turn, will help you to advance in your career as a radiologic technologist.



Radiologic Technologist Roles and Responsibilities

Radiologic Technologists, also known as Radiographers, are healthcare professionals who perform diagnostic imaging examinations.

They use imaging equipment to create images of the human body for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions.

They have the following roles and responsibilities:


Patient Care

  • Prepare patients for imaging procedures, explain the process, and answer any questions.
  • Position patients and equipment correctly to capture the right image.
  • Protect patient’s privacy and maintain confidentiality of patient information.


Imaging Procedures

  • Perform diagnostic imaging procedures such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs.
  • Operate and maintain imaging equipment safely and effectively.
  • Adhere to radiation safety measures and guidelines.


Image Analysis

  • Evaluate the quality of images to ensure clear and accurate diagnostic information.
  • Identify abnormalities or pathologies in images.


Documentation and Record Keeping

  • Maintain accurate patient records, including imaging histories and diagnostic information.
  • Record and report any unusual findings or patient reactions to physicians.


Teamwork and Communication

  • Work closely with radiologists, physicians, and other healthcare professionals.
  • Communicate patient information effectively to medical team.


Equipment Maintenance

  • Ensure imaging equipment is functioning properly and report any malfunctions.
  • Perform routine maintenance on imaging equipment.


Continuing Education

  • Stay up-to-date with advancements in imaging technology and procedures.
  • Participate in professional development activities and continuing education.


Regulatory Compliance

  • Follow state and federal regulations regarding radiologic procedures.
  • Comply with departmental policies, procedures, and safety guidelines.


Emergency Response

  • Be prepared to respond to patient emergencies during imaging procedures.
  • Administer first aid or basic life support when needed.


What Does a Radiologic Technologist Do?

Radiologic Technologists, also known as radiographers, are medical professionals who work in hospitals, clinics, and diagnostic imaging centers.

They perform imaging examinations such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT scans), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scans) on patients.

They work closely with Radiologists, who interpret these images to diagnose illness or injury.

Radiologic Technologists are responsible for accurately positioning patients to capture the required images.

They ensure the patient’s safety by minimizing radiation exposure and providing protective gear when necessary.

They maintain and operate the imaging equipment, performing routine checks and reporting any malfunctions to the appropriate personnel.

They also keep patient records and document the procedures performed.

In some cases, Radiologic Technologists may also administer contrast agents or radiopharmaceuticals to patients to enhance image quality.

Their role requires them to interact with patients, explaining the procedures and ensuring their comfort and cooperation during imaging exams.

They often work as part of a larger medical team and may be called upon to assist in emergency situations.


Essential Radiologic Technologist Skills

  • Technical Skills: Radiologic technologists operate complex machinery and must have a thorough understanding of how to use and maintain this equipment to produce high-quality images.
  • Anatomy Knowledge: Detailed knowledge of human anatomy is essential to understand which parts of the body to focus on during imaging procedures.
  • Patient Care: Radiologic technologists interact with patients who may be in pain or distress. Empathy, patience, and excellent communication skills are crucial for patient comfort and cooperation.
  • Safety Protocols: Understanding and following radiation safety procedures is essential to protect both the patient and the technologist from unnecessary radiation exposure.
  • Physical Stamina: The role often involves standing for long periods and assisting patients onto examination tables, requiring good physical stamina and strength.
  • Attention to Detail: Technologists must follow detailed instructions accurately, and pay careful attention to ensure quality images are produced and accurate patient records are kept.
  • Problem-Solving: Unexpected issues can arise during imaging procedures. Technologists need strong problem-solving skills to troubleshoot equipment or adapt procedures to specific patient needs.
  • Technology and Software: Familiarity with the latest imaging technology and software is necessary to perform imaging procedures and manage digital records.
  • Medical Terminology: A good understanding of medical terminology is essential to communicate effectively with physicians and other healthcare providers.
  • Teamwork: Radiologic technologists often work as part of a larger medical team. They need to collaborate effectively with physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to ensure optimal patient care.
  • Professional Ethics: Adherence to ethical standards and patient confidentiality is crucial in this role.
  • Time Management: Balancing multiple patients, procedures, and administrative tasks efficiently requires excellent time management skills.
  • Interpersonal Skills: Building a rapport with patients and easing their anxieties about procedures is a key part of the role, requiring strong interpersonal skills.
  • Adaptability: The ability to adapt to changing situations, such as emergency cases or new technologies, is important in this fast-paced field.
  • Quality Control: Radiologic technologists should understand quality control practices to ensure the equipment they use provides accurate and safe results.


Radiologic Technologist Career Path Progression

The Foundation: Entry-Level Radiologic Technologist

Starting as an Entry-Level Radiologic Technologist, you will be absorbing new knowledge, developing your skills, and gaining practical experience.

At this stage, your main responsibilities include operating imaging equipment, following radiologists’ instructions, and ensuring patient safety during procedures.

Here are some tips for success:

  1. Continuous Learning: Stay updated with the latest imaging technologies and techniques.
  2. Teamwork: Work effectively as a part of the radiology team to ensure smooth operation.
  3. Attention to Detail: Always double-check instructions and ensure the correct procedure is carried out.


The Ascent: Radiologic Technologist

With experience and increased proficiency, you will grow into the role of a Radiologic Technologist.

Your responsibilities will expand to include more complex imaging procedures, maintaining patient records, and ensuring equipment is maintained and functioning properly.

Here’s how to excel:

  1. Problem Solving: Develop your problem-solving skills to handle technical issues with the equipment or difficulties during procedures.
  2. Communication: Communicate effectively with patients and colleagues to maintain a high standard of patient care.
  3. Patient Comfort: Focus on providing a comfortable and reassuring environment for patients during procedures.


Reaching New Heights: Senior Radiologic Technologist

As a Senior Radiologic Technologist, you’re recognized for your technical expertise and patient care.

Your role may involve training and mentoring junior technologists, overseeing daily operations, and liaising with radiologists to ensure accurate diagnosis.

To succeed in this role:

  1. Mentorship: Share your knowledge and help junior technologists develop their skills and confidence.
  2. Quality Control: Ensure the highest standards of imaging quality and patient safety are maintained.
  3. Leadership: Show initiative in problem-solving, and inspire others with your professional conduct and work ethic.


Beyond the Horizon: Specialization and Supervisory Roles

As your career progresses, you may choose to specialize in a particular area of radiology such as Mammography, Computed Tomography (CT), or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

You could also move into supervisory or management roles, overseeing a team of technologists.

In these roles, focus on:

  1. Expertise: Develop deep knowledge in your chosen specialization and become a go-to person for advice and problem-solving.
  2. Leadership Skills: As a supervisor or manager, you’ll need strong leadership and communication skills to manage your team effectively.
  3. Continual Learning: Stay updated with the latest advancements in your field and ensure your team is also up-to-date.


Pinnacle of Success: Radiology Manager or Director

Reaching the roles of Radiology Manager or Director signifies the peak of your career progression.

In these roles, you’ll be responsible for managing the entire radiology department, making strategic decisions, and ensuring the delivery of high-quality patient care across all radiology services.


Radiologic Technologist Salary

Entry-Level Radiologic Technologist

  • Median Salary: $45,000 – $55,000 per year
  • Entry-level radiologic technologists usually have 0-2 years of experience and are typically fresh graduates from an accredited radiologic technology program.


Mid-Level Radiologic Technologist

  • Median Salary: $55,000 – $70,000 per year
  • Mid-level radiologic technologists have 2-5 years of experience and are expected to have a broader skill set, including the ability to perform more complex imaging procedures.


Senior Radiologic Technologist

  • Median Salary: $70,000 – $85,000 per year
  • Senior radiologic technologists usually have over 5 years of experience. They are proficient in a variety of imaging techniques and often have supervisory duties.


Lead Radiologic Technologist / Radiology Manager

  • Median Salary: $85,000 – $105,000+ per year
  • These roles require significant experience and often involve overseeing the operation of imaging departments, managing radiologic technologist teams, and ensuring compliance with safety standards.


Director of Radiology / Radiology Vice President

  • Median Salary: $105,000 – $150,000+ per year
  • These are high-level positions requiring extensive experience and often involve managing multiple imaging departments, setting imaging policies and procedures, and coordinating with other medical departments.


Radiologic Technologist Work Environment

Radiologic Technologists, also known as radiographers, primarily work in hospitals, but they can also find employment in clinics, diagnostic imaging centers, and physicians’ offices.

These professionals often work full time and may work on their feet for long periods while they adjust and move equipment.

They may also need to lift or turn disabled patients who need assistance.

Radiologic technologists are often required to wear lead aprons or other protective devices to minimize exposure to radiation.

Though safety procedures are strictly adhered to, there is still a residual risk.

Shift work is common in this profession, as imaging services are typically needed around the clock.

This means that radiologic technologists may be required to work evenings, weekends, or on-call hours.

With advanced training, a radiologic technologist may choose to specialize in a specific imaging technique, such as mammography or computed tomography, leading to more specialized roles within the medical field.


FAQs About Becoming a Radiologic Technologist

What is needed to become a radiologic technologist?

To become a radiologic technologist, you would typically need to complete a postsecondary educational program in radiologic technology.

This can be an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in radiologic technology or a related field.

Most states also require radiologic technologists to be licensed or certified.

Key skills include a strong understanding of medical imaging technologies, patient care, safety protocols, and anatomy.

Additionally, soft skills such as communication, attention to detail, and physical stamina are also important in this field.


How long does it take to be a radiologic technologist?

The time it takes to become a radiologic technologist can vary depending on the educational path you choose.

Most commonly, people earn an associate’s degree in radiologic technology, which typically takes two years.

If you choose to go for a bachelor’s degree, it usually takes four years.

After your education, you will also need to pass a certification exam and complete any state-specific licensing requirements.


Can I be a radiologic technologist without a degree?

While it might be technically possible to become a radiologic technologist without a degree, it is highly unlikely.

Most employers require radiologic technologists to have at least an associate’s degree in radiologic technology or a related field.

Additionally, most states require technologists to be licensed or certified, which typically involves completing an accredited educational program and passing a certification exam.


Is radiologic technology a stressful job?

Radiologic technology can be a stressful job at times, as it often involves working with patients who may be in pain or anxious, dealing with emergency situations, and standing for long periods.

However, the level of stress can vary depending on the specific role, the healthcare setting, and the individual’s coping strategies.

Many radiologic technologists find the work to be rewarding and take satisfaction in knowing that their work contributes to patient care and diagnosis.


What are the prospects for radiologic technologists in the next decade?

The job prospects for radiologic technologists are expected to grow in the next decade.

With advancements in medical imaging technology and an aging population that will require more diagnostic imaging procedures, the demand for skilled radiologic technologists is projected to increase.

Opportunities for specialization and advancement are also available in this field.



There you have it.

The path to becoming a Radiologic Technologist is indeed a challenging one, but the rewards are profound.

Equipped with the proper education, the right skills, and unyielding determination, you’re set to significantly impact the field of healthcare.

The journey may be rigorous, but the opportunities are boundless. Your dedication could lead to breakthroughs in diagnostic imaging that changes lives and advances medical science.

So, take that initial leap. Immerse yourself in learning. Connect with professionals in the field. And most importantly, never stop honing your expertise in radiology.

Because the healthcare world is waiting for your contribution.

And if you’re seeking personalized guidance on beginning or progressing your career in radiologic technology, explore our AI Career Path Advisor.

This complimentary tool is designed to provide tailored advice and resources to help you efficiently navigate your career path.

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