Being in the health care team is a lucrative and high demand job. This might be one of the reasons why opportunities and jobs for X-ray technicians are on the rise nowadays. Also called radiology technicians, they collaborate with the physicians through diagnostic procedures and producing x-ray films to determine the patient’s present condition and diagnosis. If you consider this as an interesting profession to pursue, read more and know the steps on how to become an x-ray technician.
How to become an x-ray technician
1 Obtain a high school diploma or General Education Diploma.
This is the minimum requirement set in order for you to proceed with a formal education and training in radiology. Through this period, you can start early by giving focus on subjects that would contribute to your future profession such as: math and science.
2 Get an Associate or Bachelor's Degree
Look for colleges and universities that offer academic programs which are vital in becoming an X-ray technician. You have choices whether to pursue an Associate Degree, which would last for two years, or take up a four year course in radiology which could grant you a Bachelor’s Degree. As we all know, the latter provides more advantages since it entitles and equips students with more experience, knowledge and skills in the field. There would also be room for more job opportunities and promotions for those who have a Bachelor’s Degree compared to those who only possess an Associate Degree.
On the other hand, if you are in a rush to achieve your goals, you may also undergo training programs from accredited institutions which would provide you with a certification in a vocational training program.
Although these would differ with the duration, all of the above mentioned courses would give you the fundamentals and essential information in radiology such as: topics in anatomy and physiology, medical ethics, patient care, radiation protection, principles of imaging and pathology.
Online courses are also available. This is more convenient, but there is less chances for you to interact with your instructors and colleagues. As much as possible, choose an accredited educational institution which has a good reputation in molding professionals since this would also have a great impact once you apply for employment.
3 Get certified
Once you acquired the necessary prerequisites for your career as a radiology/x-ray technician, it is now time to take and pass an examination conducted by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) in order for you to become earn a certification. Aside from this, it is also necessary to meet the Technical Standards and Essential Functions (TSEF). You are eligible once you graduate from an American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) accredited program.
Below is a list explaining the above mentioned Technical Standards and Essential Functions (TSEF):
- Must possess and exhibit appropriate assessment and comprehension of diagnosis through your observation skills.
- Must be able to communicate well whether through written, verbal and non-verbal.
- Must have good physical built and motor skills in order to assist, move and lift immobile and paralyzed patients.
- Must have good intellectual skills in to be able to make the right decisions, interpret information and collect the necessary data for the patient’s plan of care.
4 Apply for an internship program
Having on the job training gives you the necessary exposure and experience which could equip you with the knowledge and skills demanded by your job. The duration for this program may vary on your chosen institution’s protocol. Grab every chance given to you in order to learn how to operate an x-ray machine; analyze, process and organize radiologic images; compute accurate mathematical measurements; and maintain quality control. You may work independently but remember to keep a good communication with the other health care team especially in the interpretation of results.
5 Look for employment
According to studies, most x-ray technicians prefer to work in hospitals compared to physician’s clinics, outpatient care centers and medical or diagnostic laboratories. Choose an employer who could give you the professional growth and monetary benefits that your job deserves.
6 Aim for career advancements and choose a specialization
This could open doors to higher salaries and promotions. However, it could only be achieved by obtaining certifications and specialized trainings offered by accredited colleges and universities.
Top areas of specialization x-ray technicians prefer to pursue are the following:
- Mammography - to be in this field, one must become both certified x-ray technician and mammographer. Main responsibility of this specialization is to rule out cancer and any abnormalities by producing radiographic images of women’s breasts. Training is required since there is a need to use special equipment and modern technology.
- Diagnostic medical sonography – Technicians specialize in performing different procedures which could lead to the patient’s diagnosis. Because of this, there is a great need to familiarize all areas of sonography including: ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging, radiation and radio waves. Because of it’s wide range, time and patience are important in order to adapt well with the versatility and pressures of the job.
- Radiation Therapy – this area of specialization is focused on treatment of cancer cells found in the body.
- Cardiovascular Technology – X-ray technicians who specialize in this field are considered to be one of the highest paid in the profession. They deal with patients who have problems with their heart and blood vessels. To work efficiently, they collaborate directly with a cardiologist to monitor the patient’s condition and prognosis. Sub-specialties are also available for this field, which are: stress testing, invasive cardiology, non-invasive cardiology and echocardiography.
- Nuclear medicine technology – This area requires rigid training since diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other help problems are done through the use of unstable atoms. X-ray technicians who specialize in this area are well-versed in nuclear cardiology and positron emission tomography (PET scanning).
Other areas of specialization are the following:
- Musculoskeletal imaging
- Neuro radiology
- Medical imaging
- Medical sonography
- Cellular imaging
- Pediatric radiology
According to labor statistic, job opportunities are expected to increase by 17% until the year 2018. With an average annual salary of $40,000 to $60,000 a lot of aspiring x-ray technicians is invited to start this career. Aside from this, perks and benefits are also offered such as health insurance, paid vacation leaves and etc. Learning how to become an x-ray technician may be the first step in a new career for you.
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