What You Need to Know Before Becoming a Radiology Technician

Are you looking for a rewarding career you can feel great about? If that sounds like you, you may want to give some thought to becoming a radiology technician. If you’re currently a student preparing to be a technician, then you already know radiology technicians are also commonly referred to as “radiologic technologists.” Regardless of the term you prefer, pursuing a career in this line of work provides multiple benefits.

One of the biggest benefits to becoming a radiologic technologist is variety. While you may start your career as an X-ray technician, you’ll be able to learn how to take other kinds of images as your career progresses. Some of the positions you may choose for cross-training include:

  • Computed Tomography Technician (CT) Technician
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technologist
  • Nuclear Medicine Technologist
  • Ultrasound Technician
  • Radiation Therapist

Classroom Curriculum

To become a radiology technician, you’ll need to earn an associate’s degree. For people with no experience in the medical field, the program generally takes two years to complete. If you’ve worked in the healthcare industry before, you may be able to find a degree program which you can finish in as little as one year.

If you’re thinking about becoming a radiologic technologist or you’re already in the process of earning your associate’s degree, you may be curious about the coursework you’ll need to complete in the classroom. While the curriculum may vary by school, here are some of the subjects you should expect to study as you work to get your associate’s degree:

  • Anatomy: You’ll learn about the structure of the physical components that make up the human body in an anatomy class, including the nervous and skeletal systems.
  • Physiology: By studying physiology, you’ll learn how the body’s parts function and how each of them relates to and interacts with one another.
  • Patient Care: Patient care is a big part of a radiology technician’s job, just as it is for other professionals in the healthcare industry. A class in patient care will provide instruction about how you should communicate with patients and prepare them for medical procedures such as medical scans.
  • Radiation Physics: In order to take X-rays that can be used to diagnose and treat maladies, you need to be intimately familiar with how X-rays are produced. You also have to understand how X-rays affect the human body and the other things they come in contact with. A radiation physics course will teach you all of these things in addition to other information that will help you succeed as a radiologic technologist.
  • Pathology: While pathology often comes to mind when people think of the doctors who are charged with determining the cause of a victim’s death on a TV crime show, pathology is actually a comprehensive science which includes 19 different specialties. In a pathology class, you’ll learn about the diseases and sicknesses that humans are diagnosed with.
  • Positioning: In a positioning class, you’ll be taught how to position patients to produce the best, most useful images.

Clinical Experience

In addition to learning in a classroom environment as you’re earning your associate’s degree, you’ll also get some practical experience in clinics. Depending on the medial facilities in the area near your school, you may rotate between facilities from one semester to another.

Some of the areas you might be exposed to as you work in an actual healthcare environment include:

  • Emergency Rooms
  • Diagnostic Laboratories
  • Operating Rooms
  • Morgues

Licensing Requirements

The majority of states require radiology technicians to have a license before they can legally take bodily images using X-ray technology. You’ll need to check your state’s laws and licensing requirements to determine if you need a special license or certification to work as a radiologic technologist in your state.