Discover your Degree Options
The radiology field encompasses medical professionals who use different image technologies to help physicians diagnose patient ailments. There are a wide range of radiology degree programs to choose from in the field of radiology technology, and these can range in length from a 6-month certification course to master’s and even doctorate degrees, which take years to earn.
Aspiring radiologic technologists (sometimes called X-ray techs or, erroneously radiologic technicians) have several education paths to choose from when pursuing their career. Radiologic technology, also known as radiography, is a technical medical profession based around medical imaging technology. This profession is in high demand, and due to its use of medical imaging technology, requires a quality, technical education from an accredited institution.
This career requires at least a certificate, although many radiologic technologists are investing in an associate’s or even a bachelor’s degree. In some cases, employers are requiring that applicants earn an associate’s degree or higher. Many radiologic technologists choose to earn a bachelor’s degree in a related medical field first, and then earn a post-baccalaureate certificate later on.
Radiologic Technology Training and Courses
Radiologic technologists can earn their certificate in as little as 6 months, or can invest in 4 years or more to earn their bachelor’s degree. Some institutions also offer a master’s degree, which allows graduates to pursue a more exclusive career, such as working directly under a radiologist as an assistant. Although the length of education can differ widely between radtech professionals, the basic coursework in a radiography program is basically the same, and builds off of a foundation in mathematics, science and clinical pharmacology. Many programs also require graduates to complete internships or receive supervised clinical experience. Depending on their specific technology focus, such as ultrasound technology, radiologic technologists may need to pass certification exams and complete continuing education requirements in order to work. Nuclear medicine and x-ray technologists generally need to pass certification exams in order to work with those technologies. Students are encouraged to invest in higher education when possible, as this not only increases the amount of training and experience. but is also very helpful when applying for open positions.
Registration and certification requirements also vary by state for radiographers, with some states mandating registration and continuing education.
Radiologic Technology Degree Requirements
The exact degree requirements for a career in radiologic technology can vary, depending on the specific degree, desired position and institution offering the program. Some states and employers require a minimum 1-year education. In general, certificates in this field take between 30-40 course-hours to complete, while associate’s degrees should take a minimum of 60 course-hours to finish. The bachelor’s degrees in radiologic technology generally take at least 120 course-hours to complete, and usually involve 60 hours of general education, and 60 hours of radiology technology.
Because of the potentially dangerous nature of working with radiation, x-ray technologists are required in most states to meet additional licensing and continuing education requirements.
Radiologic Technology Program Contents
Students going through a radiological technology program will take courses on basic medical skills such as anatomy and pharmacology, in addition to specific radiology education, which may involve x-ray and other imaging technology training.
Medical Assisting with Limited X-Ray
The medical assistant (MA) with limited x-ray degree is a unique and versatile degree that provides students with a combination of medical assistant training with x-ray radiological technology training. This profession requires a minimum of an associate’s degree and may involve additional training or clinical experience in some programs.
Medical Assistant with Limited X-Ray Training and Courses
Earning a 2-year medical assistant certificate with limited x-ray includes a versatile education in medical technology basics such as medical ethics, anatomy and physiology and clinical pharmacology, in addition to radiological technology and x-ray radiography. Due to its involvement with radiation, the limited x-ray section has additional training and certification requirements. In order to work with x-rays, medical assistant professionals are required to pass the AART certification exam, which proves a technologist’s proficiency in basic x-ray procedures. Most limited x-ray programs graduates are eligible to take the exam, but it’s a good idea to double-check. Once they’ve earned their certificate or associate’s degree through an accredited program, MAs with limited x-ray may take any necessary certification exams and begin their new career.
Medical Assistant with Limited X-Ray Degree Requirements
To complete their degree, medical assistants with limited x-ray must complete their MA program, which usually takes about 30 credit-hours to complete, in addition to x-ray technology and radiography training, which may take additional 9-12 credit hours to complete, depending on the institution and program. It’s worth noting that, even after completing their degree, MAs with limited x-ray may have to meet continuing education requirements, depending on the state they work in.
Medical Assistant with Limited X-Ray Program Contents
MA with limited x-ray students go through the same medical assistant program that other aspiring MAs take, which involves courses such as medical laboratory procedures, pharmacology, human anatomy, medical terminology and ethics and laws of medicine. In addition, the limited x-ray training section of the program involves courses such as basic radiology science and radiation safety.
Cardiovascular (CV) technologists are radiological technology professionals who focus on cardiovascular imaging technology. Their main duties involve providing technical support during imaging processes in a cardiovascular setting. While these professionals may start their career with only minimal on-the-job training, the majority carry a minimum of an associate’s degree or a post-baccalaureate certificate in cardiovascular technology, while others choose to earn a bachelor’s degree.
Cardiovascular Training and Courses
Aspiring CV tech professionals should invest in a quality degree program from an accredited institution in order to best prepare for the rigors of working in a hospital. These professionals have the option of earning a certificate, an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in radiological technology. Many cardiovascular technologists choose to earn a bachelor’s degree in a related medical field and later take a cardiovascular post-baccalaureate certification course at their school or even at a major hospital. Specific courses offered during the last year of education allow students to focus on cardiovascular areas such as cardiology and vascular technology. Some states and employers may have additional training, certification or continuing education requirements for this profession.
Cardiovascular Technology Degree Requirements
Earning a degree in cardiovascular technology requires a thorough knowledge of physics, human anatomy and radiological technology. For an associate’s degree in this profession, students generally complete around 60 course-hours, while a bachelor’s degree in cardiovascular technology requires 120 hours or more, including 60 hours of general education and 2 years of specialized education in radiological technology. Some programs may have mandatory internships or supervised clinical experience.
Cardiovascular Technology Program Contents
After the completion of general education requirements, cardiovascular technology programs involve courses that prepare students for working with imaging technology in a medical setting. Human anatomy and physiology, physics, patient care, medical terminology and radiology technology are all a part of the cardiovascular technology program curriculum. In many programs, students also receive supervised instruction in a clinical setting in order to receive direct experience in the field.
Electrocardiography, or “EKG” for short, is a cardiovascular technology profession that focuses on the processes and technology involved in performing electrocardiograms (EKGs), which includes running vital and stress tests during a procedure and preparing patients with the use of heart monitors. This specialized technical profession requires a minimum of an associate’s degree, though many EKG technologists are choosing to earn a post-baccalaureate certificate in cardiovascular technology after earning a bachelor’s degree in a related medical field, especially radiological technology.
EKG Training and Courses
Students interested in pursuing a career in EKG technology should take the time and money to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree through a radiological technology program at an accredited institution. This will not only prepare them for working in a clinical environment, but it will also give them a competitive edge when applying for jobs. EKG professionals may also choose to earn only certificate in their field, and many major hospitals offer EKG and other cardiovascular technology programs on their premises. Additional training, certification or continuing education requirements may be required for EKG technologists to perform work.
EKG Degree Requirements
A degree in electrocardiography requires a strong foundation in mathematics, physics, anatomy and radiological technology. To earn their associate’s degree in EKG technology, students must usually complete 60 course-hours, half of which are directly related to the profession. Earning a bachelor’s degree involves 120 course-hours or more, usually including 60 hours of general education and 60 hours of technical courses in radiological and cardiovascular technology. Some programs may also include internships or clinical instruction.
EKG Program Contents
In general, starting a career in EKG technology should involve general education and basic radiology technology course requirements, which include classes on medical terminology, patient care and medical safety. Once these courses are completed, aspiring EKG technologists can expect to take several courses on cardiovascular technology as well as hands-on training for EKG-related duties in a real-life setting.
Ultrasound technicians are radiological technologists who specialize in the use of ultrasound procedures for therapeutic and diagnostic purposes. While not using equipment as dangerous as x-rays, ultrasound technicians must still earn a certificate or degree from an ultrasound technology or related program.
Ultrasound Technology Training and Courses
Ultrasound techs are required to earn a certificate or degree that takes a minimum of 1 year to complete through an accredited program. Like most other radiological technology professions, ultrasound technicians have the option to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Becoming an ultrasound technician usually involves graduating from a radiological technology program with either a certificate or degree and then completing additional training in basic radiology and specifically ultrasound technology. Ultrasound tech students must have knowledge mathematics and physics, and knowledge of basic medical procedures will be very helpful as well, though it’s not required to be admitted into a program. Ultrasound technologists must pass a certification exam demonstrating their proficiency in using ultrasound equipment in most states, and are eligible to take the exam upon graduating their certificate or degree program. Some states and even employers may also have registration or continuing education requirements for ultrasound technologists to meet.
Ultrasound Technology Degree Requirements
The education requirements of ultrasound technology vary depending on which level of education that students wish to pursue. Generally, a certificate in a radiography career such as ultrasound technology takes between 30-40 course-hours to complete, while an associate’s degree should take around 60 course-hours or more to earn. Most ultrasound technology bachelor degree programs take at least 120 course-hours to earn, and include 60 hours or so of general education and at least 60 hours of radiology technology education and ultrasound training.
Ultrasound Technology Program Contents
Besides courses on basic clinical skills such as anatomy and pharmacology, students going through an ultrasound technology program can expect specific radiology technology courses, which may include diagnostic medical sonography and other imaging procedures. In addition, most ultrasound technology programs require an internship or some other form of supervised clinical experience.
Options by Study Level
The level of study that a radiologic technologist decides on will be influenced by factors including state and employer requirements, as well as the specific job duties that a professional wishes to perform in the workforce. Needless to say, the certificate programs, which are ideally more than a year long, provide the most affordable and easily accessed education, while the associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs provide the most in-depth and well-rounded education.
Many radiological professionals working in hospitals and clinics across the US carry a certificate in radiology and its many imaging technologies, including x-ray, ultrasound and nuclear medicine. Unlike associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs, certificate programs in radiological technology are often offered by hospitals through their own facility programs. Certificates are also less expensive and easier to find than related degree programs.
Many radiologic technologists choose to earn an associate’s of applied science degree. These degree programs are also widely available, and are offered by both 2 and 4-year accredited institutions. While many of radiologic technologists are only required to carry a certificate, many professionals are investing more time into their education and are earning an associate’s degree, as some radiology professionals require an associate’s level of education or higher.
While the majority of radiological technologists carry a certificate or associate’s degree, there is a growing national trend towards earning a bachelor’s degree before starting out in the workfore. This is largely due to increasing competition for radiologic technology positions as young professionals fill a nation’s growing medical imaging needs. For a well-rounded and thorough education, many aspiring radiology professionals are earning a bachelor’s degree in radiologic technology or a related medical field, and then completing a separate, focused certification program.
Fewer working radiological technology professionals choose to earn a master’s degree, as it’s a greater time and financial commitment, and some radiology graduate programs can be hard to come by. For many professionals, however, a master’s degree, while not always necessary, can be very beneficial for a career in radiology technology. Not only does a master’s level of education provide more job opportunities, it also provides access to higher-paying positions.
Is it Worth Getting a Degree?
Some basic radiological technology careers can be taught through simply training on the job, so is it worth spending the time and money to pursue a formal education and earning a degree? The short answer – yes. The medical field may be rapidly expanding, but the huge influx of young professionals can lead to tough competition for the most desirable jobs. Earning a formal certificate or degree not only provides an edge on the competition, it also provides opens up job opportunities, leading to the best possible start to succeeding in this career.