Rad Tech Career Paths
What exactly does a Radiologic Technician do?
Rad Tech (sometimes called X-ray tech) is a very versatile profession that can encompass many different sophisticated imaging technologies, but focus primarily on performing the tasks involved in producing x-ray images. These images are used in the diagnosis of bone fractures and other internal injuries and ailments. A highly technical medical profession that works directly with radiation, x-ray technology requires an ability to follow a doctor’s instructions carefully, an understanding of the x-ray imaging process and a passion for patient care.
A skilled x-ray technician can use x-ray equipment to help produce quality image results that the doctor can use to make an accurate diagnosis. Professional responsibilities include preparing the patient for a procedure, ensuring that safety procedures are met and operating imaging equipment under the supervision of a radiologist or other doctor. Due to the nature of this profession, there is a risk of exposure to radiation, and strict adherence to safety measures must be observed at all times to prevent any complications.
Most radiography professionals are specialized in one particular technology or another, while others may need to be proficient in several, such as ultrasound and x-rays. No matter what specific imaging technology a radiologic technologist works with, a sharp eye for detail, the ability to follow detailed instructions and a passion for helping people is very important for success.
A rad tech must have the appropriate training and experience to perform CT scans (¬computed tomography) computer-processed aggregations of many X-ray images taken from various angles to produce cross-sectional (or tomographic) images of specific scanned areas, allowing the physician to see inside the object without the need for surgical intervention.
Training for a Radiologic Technologist
Radiologic technologists can earn a certificate, an associate’s degree, or a bachelor’s degree through an accredited program. There are several education paths to choose from. Most students graduate from a radiologic technology school program with a 2 or 4-year degree, while others earn a degree in a related medical field and pursue a certificate, either at a school or at a hospital. These programs involve mathematics, physics, anatomy and physiology and medical terminology. In addition, many programs also involved supervised experience in a clinical setting. Professionals in this field may carry a certificate, but more often have earned an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.
In addition, most states have their own licensing and continuing education requirements that x-ray technologists must meet in order to perform work.
Job Outlook and Employers
Radiologic technology is a very fast-growing field as the medical industry continues to expand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that in 2016 there were currently about 241,700 radiologic technologists working in the nation, with an estimated 30,300 more expected by the year 2026. The majority of radiologic technologists are hired by hospitals, though specialized clinics and doctors’ offices employ them as well.