It’s easy to imagine that when it comes to careers in healthcare, you have to choose between a position emphasizing “technical expertise” or one focusing on “patient care.”
You’ll be pleased to know about one healthcare career that combines technical expertise with excellence in patient care. It’s a medical imaging career, and you get there by earning a 2-year radiologic technology degree called the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S. degree) in Radiologic Technology.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of radiologic technologists is projected to grow 6% from 2021 to 2031. That’s much faster than the average for all occupations.
This growth is due to emerging technologies and an expanding senior adult population. Senior adults will need more medical imaging as they experience age-related conditions and diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s.
Radiologic technologists, also known as radiographers or X-ray technologists, perform diagnostic imaging examinations, such as X-rays, sonograms, MRIs, and CAT scans on patients. They work closely with radiologists, patients, and sometimes surgeons.
A rad tech’s responsibilities on the patient team include
A rad tech’s interpersonal skills come into play nearly every day, as radiologic technologists often serve as a connecting point between the radiologist and the patient.
One practicing rad tech told about revisiting a patient after her doctor had talked with her about the lung cancer revealed in the diagnostic exam. When the rad tech became aware of the diagnosis, he took the time to come back to her room in the ER because he wanted to offer her emotional support and show that he cared about her as a person.
The essential qualities for radiologic technologists include high attention to detail, interpersonal skills, math skills, physical stamina, and technical skills.
These professionals must follow exact protocols to get the images needed for diagnoses, be able to explain procedures to patients and answer their questions, calculate the proper equipment settings to get the best image, be able to lift or turn patients into specific imaging positions and understand how to operate complex machinery and computerized instruments.
An associate degree in applied science means most classes and instruction apply directly to the skills and knowledge of the profession.
In a 2-year radiologic technology program, students first complete introductory classes – communication techniques, basic anatomy, and health science terminology, for example – and then advance to the radiologic technology curriculum.
After rad tech students achieve certain competency levels, they are assigned clinical experiences at work sites associated with the program. You want as much experience “doing rad tech” as possible, so rad tech schools in urban locations typically have a wider range of patient types and scenarios. Employers depend on new rad techs being able to contribute from day one.
According to U.S. employment data for 2021, the median annual wage for those with a radiologic technology degree was $61,370. A newly graduated and certified radiographer earns from $44,000 to $46,850, although the pay is generally higher in geographic areas where there is high demand.
Competitive pay is important, and so is work-life balance and personal satisfaction. Owlguru.com, which uses employee feedback, reports that radiologic technologists receive 4 of 5-star ratings for salary and job satisfaction and a 5 of 5-star rating for job growth. Most radiologic technologists add other imaging credentials during their careers, allowing them to earn more.
Finally, there are multiple work settings. Radiologic technologists are employed in hospitals, physician’s offices, medical and diagnostic laboratories, and outpatient care centers.
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private, chiropractic and health science university in Overland Park, Kansas, a part of the Kansas City metro. Our mission since our founding in 1922: educate and develop leaders in health promotion.
Within our College of Health Sciences, CUKC offers an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Radiologic Technology. Our rad tech students typically complete their degree within two years. Our program is designed to provide the educational curriculum needed to achieve certification as a radiographer by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).
Employers, state licensing agencies, and federal regulators consider ARRT credentials a sign of meeting professional standards.
Features of the CUKC radiologic technology program include:
When you want to know more about our 2-year radiologic technology degree, request more information. You’ll also appreciate getting our free eBook: Your Complete Guide to a Career as a Radiologic Technologist.