Number of Jobs
|This Job is Ranked in|
|Best Health Care Jobs||#28|
|The 100 Best Jobs||#56|
Most health care workers have one go-to tool they use to treat or measure patient illness or injury. For surgeons, it’s scalpels. For clinical lab technicians, it’s microscopes. But for radiologic technologists, it’s three instruments: X-ray generators, computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging machines. Technologists rely on imaging equipment, which they use to assist lead technicians in taking body images and examining what those images reveal. Myke Kudlas, chief academic officer of the American Society of Radiologic Technologists, says the profession’s unpredictability is its greatest selling point. “You’re never quite sure what the next patient is going to present,” he says. “Even if you’re doing chest X-rays, you might have somebody in a wheelchair, or somebody who can’t get out of a gurney ... they are all going to be a little different. The variety in the work is very exciting.” Most radiologic technologists are employed at state, local and private hospitals, physicians’ offices and in medical and diagnostic laboratories.
A large aging population in need of imaging to diagnose and treat medical conditions should keep demand strong for radiologic technologists. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment growth of about 21 percent between 2012 and 2022 for this profession, and 41,500 new positions will need to be filled. Job prospects are particularly promising for those interested in working for general medical and surgical hospitals.
Radiologic technologists earned a median salary of $54,340 in 2012, a slight dip from 2011, according to the BLS. The highest-paid earned $77,160, while the lowest-paid earned $37,060. The three highest-paying metropolitan areas for radiologic technologists are all in California: Napa, Oakland and Vallejo.
Pursuit of a career in radiologic technology should begin early. Interested high school students should take courses in anatomy, biology, chemistry, physiology, mathematics and physics, if possible. Standardized training programs in radiography, which include classroom and clinical training, can lead to a certificate, associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree. (An associate’s degree is the most common educational training in this profession.) A college-level courseload might include classes in anatomy, image evaluation, pathology and radiation physics and protection. The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology accredits educational and training programs in radiography, and most states require radiologic technologists to be licensed or certified. Those interested in pursuing a career in the field can gain valuable experience by shadowing established radiologic technologists.
Strong science and mathematical skills are important, and radiologic technologists must have the technical skills to operate complex machinery. Solid interpersonal and communication skills also come into play when working with patients experiencing pain or mental stress. When breaking into the field, you might have to be flexible about your work schedule, according to Kudlas. “You’ve got to be willing to maybe work part time or work a weekend or evening shift,” he says. “You’ve got to get in there and move up the chain.”
|Upward Mobility||fair Average|
|Stress Level||poor Above Average|
Last updated by Katy Marquardt.