Perhaps you’ve heard that becoming a radiologic technologist is a rewarding profession within healthcare, and it is. Still, you don’t know much about what they do, and you haven’t the slightest idea of how to become one. No worries! Here’s a guide to their unique mix of responsibilities and the steps to take for a degree in radiologic technology.
What Radiologic Technologists Do
Watch any medical show or movie, and there are scenes where doctors are intensely discussing what an image from inside the body is revealing. Radiologic technologists – also known as “radiographers” or “rad techs” – are the ones physicians depend on to produce these images.
These days, doctors rarely perform exploratory surgery and invasive procedures; diagnostic medical imaging from outside the body using specialized equipment is the preferred course of action. These diagnostic images allow doctors to know what kind of treatment is necessary. If there are multiple injuries, imaging can indicate which one has the highest priority.
The Wide Use of Diagnostic Imaging in Today’s Healthcare
Nearly everyone has seen an image of a broken bone, but today’s imaging technologies can do much more. It’s the knowledge and skills learned in radiologic technology school that enables rad techs to help unlock the sources of pain, injury, or medical conditions without apparent symptoms.
Why Radiologic Technologists Are in Demand
Yes, a radiologic technologist’s role on the medical team is to set up and operate, imaging equipment such as stationary and portable X-ray machines and C-arm equipment. They also work one-on-one with people in pain or not feeling well. Rad techs must know how to keep patients as comfortable as possible with the imaging procedure, explain clearly what to expect, and reassure them by being a voice of encouragement and compassion.
In trauma situations, the rad tech can be one of the first medical team members a patient encounters. For those who want to be on the front line of patient care and technology, an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in radiologic technology is an attractive career plan.
Steps to Become a Radiologic Technologist
An A.A.S. in rad tech is a 75-hour degree program consisting of two phases: the prerequisite (preliminary) classes and the professional radiologic technology coursework. Most students can complete their A.A.S. degree in as little as two years.
So, what are the steps to earning this degree? Here’s a breakout of the three major steps.
1. Apply/Complete Preliminary Coursework
The first step is to seek out a University’s biological sciences-centered degree plan that can provide the preliminary coursework necessary for the rad tech degree. Expect to submit an application fee, as well as high school and college transcripts.
The preliminary (prerequisite) courses, typically covering about 24 college hours, including such classes as English, psychology, basic anatomy and physiology, and healthcare terminology. Often these courses are available online, on-campus, or in a hybrid online/in-person format.
2. Apply to the university’s radiologic technology degree program
After completing the general education courses, usually requiring a grade B or higher, students are eligible for admission to the university’s radiologic technology program. Once admitted into the program, students complete a number of screenings and checks necessary for careers as healthcare professionals.
Rad tech programs usually provide a document management system (DMS) to manage these details. Items to complete include a personal background check, physical examination, urine drug screen, health record/immunization results, and CPR certification for Basic Life Support (BLS) from the American Heart Association (AHA).
3. Complete the professional radiologic technology coursework
The professional radiologic technology coursework delivers the remaining college credits, about 51 hours, in a lock-step format, meaning that one class’s knowledge applies directly to the next.
When students achieve competencies and complete these advanced classes with a C or higher grade, the students advance. The instructors then can schedule students for clinical experiences within the university’s network of affiliate providers.
Note: rad tech programs offering class sessions in the evening are often a good choice, allowing students easier access to in-the-field opportunities easier access to in-the-field opportunities with facilities operating during daytime hours.
The Rewards of the Radiologic Technology Profession
An A.A.S. in radiologic technology is a challenging yet personally rewarding degree program. The skillset gained takes these professionals into an in-demand career. Radiologic technologists rank in the top-15 of healthcare support positions.
According to data from Salary.com, experienced rad techs can earn more than $55,000 per year. Newly certified radiologic technologists typically average salaries of $44,000 or more. Because of the value diagnostic imaging provides, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the demand for radiologic technologists will increase at least 9% through 2029.
Become a Radiologic Technologist at Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC)
Ours is an accelerated, evening-based degree program that students often complete in as little as two years.
Imaging center professionals guided the program design. Instructors have real-life experience doing the imaging work they’re teaching. As you move through the program and gain competencies, you’ll get clinical experience in various healthcare facilities within Kansas City and the surrounding region.
Other advantages of earning your radiology technology education at CUKC:
Classes for the radiologic technology program at CUKC begin in the spring and fall. Request more details here about our radiologic technology program, or download this free eBook: Your Complete Guide to a Career as a Radiologic Technologist.