A career in radiology technology requires knowledge in operating and maintaining radiology equipment and imaging devices such as x-rays. With enough experience, radiographers may choose to specialize in more complex diagnostic imaging procedures such as MRIs, CT scans, ultrasound, mammography or bone densitometry.
It is the job of the radiographer to produce clear images of a person’s internal body to help the physician detect a disease or injury, diagnose a medical condition and to determine the proper medical treatment for the patient. In order to become a radiology technologist, an individual must finish a radiology program from an accredited radiology school. As soon as a certificate or degree is received, a technologist may apply for certification from the ARRT (American Registry of Radiologic Technologists). Although a certification is voluntary, a lot of employers prefer to hire radiographers who are licensed by the state.
A job as a radiographer may be attained in three ways- through a certificate program, an Associate’s degree or through a Bachelor’s degree. Radiographers who graduate with a certificate have smaller responsibilities compared to those with a degree. During training, they learn how to prepare patients, handle equipment using safety precautions and use the radiology equipment. On the other hand, radiographers who want to be more involved clinically must complete a 2-year Associate’s degree program. An Associate’s degree allows the radiographer to have a more direct interaction with patients as they are responsible for positioning the patient, explaining the process, handling the equipments, and be adept with the medical terminologies. An Associate’s degree also allows the radiographer to specialize in MRIs and CT scans.
Radiographers who want to be involved in the other aspects of radiology or who want to take a management role should obtain a Bachelor’s degree in radiology. In a Bachelor’s degree program, the students will be able to expand their knowledge and gain perspective on the supervisory and educational aspect of radiology. A Bachelor’s degree in radiology will give radiographers the skills that they need to deal with the business and financial aspects of radiology, the training to effectively perform radiology techniques, the confidence to be leaders in their field, the competence to manage a whole radiology department and an extensive knowledge of anatomy and physiology to be an educator.
Radiographers with a Bachelor’s degree are equipped with the knowledge and the expertise needed to advance their career. Some radiographers will choose to apply for a higher position such as a chief radiographer or a radiographer trainer. Others will prefer to work outside the hospital setting and vie for a position as a radiology professor, a clinical instructor, a radiology equipment sales person, or equipment manufacturer assessor. Radiographers who pursue and obtain a master’s degree in health administration may qualify to be a department supervisor or a director. Radiographers may also choose to become radiology assistants or radiation therapist to be more involved on direct patient care and take the lead in patient management and assessment.