Some children marvel at how cool it would be to have “X-ray vision” like Superman, but they soon realize that such powers are confined to comic books and movie screens. But, if you have an interest in X-rays, you can be like a superhero, but in a slightly different way. You can make it your career by exploring radiology technologist programs and learning how to become an X-ray technologist, in just three easy steps.
The X-ray was discovered in 1895, and it has been used in a variety of ways since that time, most notably in healthcare. A radiologic technologist – the correct name for an X-ray technologist – takes medical images of a patient that allows physicians to do an internal assessment of their condition without surgery. The images can reveal bone fractures, foreign objects, tumors and a host of other problems, which can be used by physicians to diagnose an ailment and then provide the appropriate treatment.
Step 1: Know Why It’s Important
Because X-rays play such an integral role in healthcare, so does an X-ray technologist. Also known as a “radiologic technologist” or a “rad tech,” the work done by these individuals can have an immediate impact on the treatment a patient receives. Quality diagnostic images of disease and/or bodily trauma captured by a radiology tech are often critical to the long-term health of the patient. In some cases, they can be lifesaving.
A review of the rad tech’s work by the physician is often a key part of the diagnosis and ultimately, the treatment provided. The work can be demanding and stressful, but also very satisfying, as you will be able to help others achieve better health each day. If you have a heart for helping people, this will put you right on the front lines of health care.
Step 2: Understand Professional Criteria
It’s important to understand the requirements needed when you are researching radiology technologist programs. There are three main options for your education, but each is quite different. When studying how to become an X-ray tech, you want to be certain to give yourself a broad range of career opportunities.
To do that, you will likely want to make sure the program meets the certification criteria of the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). This is important because, in most states, you must be nationally certified by AART to receive a state license. Here are the three training options:
Non-degree certificate programs – Do not meet the ARRT certification criteria, and upon completion, you will still need a degree to be considered for certification and likely licensure
Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree – Two-year, radiologic technology degree pursued by many as it meets ARRT criteria for certification and ultimately, licensure to be a radiologic technologist
Bachelor of Science degree (B.S.) – Four-year degree option that meets ARRT criteria for certification, and prepares you to work as a radiologic technologist alongside those with a two-year degree
Radiology technologist programs vary somewhat, with the greatest difference being the completion time. While some may pursue the B.S. degree, others choose the A.A.S., as it fulfills the degree requirements set forth by the ARRT, but allows you to enter the workforce in two years rather than four. So, if you are eager to start your career, it’s important to know how to become an X-ray tech, but it’s equally important to know how long it will take.
Step 3: Explore the Details
When considering radiology technologist programs, watch for the things that may seem small, because they can make a difference. In addition to the core radiological classes, there will also be prerequisite coursework included in a degree program. These courses can often be completed online or taken in a hybrid format, which is a combination of traditional classroom learning and online learning.
Whenever possible, try to complete your prerequisites and your professional coursework at the same institution. This can lead to a guaranteed admission into the rad tech program. And more importantly, you can avoid the hassle of wondering if all of your course will transfer from one school to another.
Also ask about other aspects of the radiology technologist program including:
Keeping an eye on the details will ensure that your time in a radiology technologist program will be both positive and productive. You don’t want to be surprised by unexpected requirements or unnecessary delays as you learn how to become an X-ray tech. That can be frustrating. A positive experience in school will make you the best radiologic technologist you can be when you embark on your new career.
The Radiologic Technologist Degree at CUKC
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private, healthcare-focused university located in Overland Park, Kansas, a suburb of the Kansas City metro. CUKC offers an accelerated, two-year Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) Radiologic Technology degree. Our advantages in a radiography degree include:
When you’re ready to become a radiologic technologist in a growing profession, you’re ready to team up with CUKC. Connect with a CUKC advisor today, or learn more about a career in radiologic technology by downloading the free ebook, Your Complete Guide to a Career as a Radiologic Technologist. This comprehensive guide is packed with detailed information about the profession and how to compare radiology technologist programs.