Radiologic Technologist - Overview

A radiologic technologist is an allied healthcare professional whose job skills, training, and credentials qualify them to administer diagnostic medical x-rays. The radiologic technologist may also be referred to as an x-ray technician or radiographer.

X-ray is the original diagnostic imaging discipline, having been in use since it's discovery in the the early 1900's. While the field of radiologic technology and medical imaging in general has changed immensely in the past 100 years, basic x-ray technology still remains at the cornerstone of medical diagnostic imaging services. It is for these reasons the radiologic technologist job market continues to remain very strong.

Beyond basic x-ray technology the diagnostic imaging field also includes MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), mammography, Cat Scan, Nuclear Medicine , PET (Positive Emission Tomography), and Ultrasound. While not all of these specialty areas require x-ray technology, many radiologic technologists find themselves gravitating toward these related areas at some point in their career.







The radiologic technologist is an essential part of the health care team. As they are usually the only individuals qualified to operate x-ray equipment a number of skills and areas of expertise are required. Among them are a knowledge of radiologic anatomy and physiology, radiation safety and physics, patient positioning and preparation, digital image processing, darkroom techniques, basic patient care protocols, infection control, and radiographic quality control.

The radiologic technologist is not the one responsible for reading x-rays. This is the job of the Radiologist who is a board certified medical doctor specializing in radiology. As the technician will work closely with the radiologist in many cases, they are required to have a basic understanding of radiologic pathology.

Radiologic technologist job duties often require a close working relationship with physicians, nurses, and other health care staff. Good communication and teamwork skills are very important. Likewise, as the technologist in most cases spends a limited amount of time with each patient, the ability to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances also becomes quite important.



Radiologic Technologist Training

Radiologic technologist training may take several different approaches, however in all cases professional training from an accredited school is required. The average training period for an x-ray technologist is 2-4 years in a college or hospital based program leading to either an associates degree or certificate. Beginning in 2015 all candidates for certification in radiologic technology must have earned an academic dergree. While 2 year programs tend to be the most prevalent, some employers may give preference to technologists with 4 year bachelors degrees. Training may also be offered through some technical schools and in military programs.

On successful completion of a course in radiologic technology, the technologist will then require a certification by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists(ARRT). A majority of states also require a separate state licensure, with requirements varying from state to state. Evidence of continuing education may be required to maintain credentials.

The accreditation of formal radiologic technology programs is the responsibility of The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology. To find accredited schools in your area go to JRCERT.





Radiologic Technologist Jobs

Department of Labor statistics indicate that the job market and demand for radiologic technologists (x-ray technicians) is expected to grow faster than average for all occupations through the year 2014. In fact a 2010 article in U.S. News & World Report lists radiologic technology as one of the best careers for the coming year. This is due primarily to a rapidly aging population which produces an increased demand for medical diagnostic imaging services as well on going technical advances in imaging modalities.

X-ray technologists who are also skilled and certified in sub-specialties such as MRI, Cat Scan, mammography, interventional radiology, and other specialties will tend to have better employment opportunities. Though hospitals will remain as the primary source of radiologic technologist jobs, the shift toward outpatient care will also result in a rise in employment opportunities in diagnostic imaging centers and private physician offices.


Related Reference Material

Merrill's Atlas of Radiographic Positioning and Procedures: 3-Volume Set
Lange Q&A - Radiography Examination

Professional Organizations

American Society of Radiologic Technologists
American Registry of Radiologic Technologists


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