How to Become a Radiologic Technologist

Medical Specialties

radiologic technologist

What is a Radiologic Technologist? 

Radiologic technologists are the medical professionals who:

  • Perform diagnostic imaging
  • Administer radiation therapy

There is a lot of radiation throughout a hospital, but that radiation is used to diagnose and treat patients whenever it is required. It is the job of a radiologic technologist to use these techniques and technologies to effectively diagnose a patient and then treat them.

They are expected to have an expert level of knowledge in all the instruments that a hospital has that use radioactive technology. They are heavily relied upon in order for doctors to make an accurate diagnosis.

Duties of Radiologic Technologist

  • Bone densitometry
  • Cardiovascular-interventional radiography
  • Computed tomography
  • Mammography
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Nuclear medicine
  • Sonography
  • Treatment of cancer and other diseases

Bonuses and Benefits of Radiologic Technologist

One of the appeals of becoming a radiologic technologist is that every day throws up something new and exciting. It is far from a boring job as the variety of tasks at hand mean that no one day is the same. It is a role that constantly throws up challenges to overcome and while there will also be a base of routine duties, the role will keep them engaged and interested in the crucial role that they have on a patient’s health.

There is also opportunity to further themselves and become more advanced in their qualifications. Becoming a specialist in a specific type of imaging is an example of where a career path could be taken. They’ll be constantly on their feet, helping patients and analyzing the data that the technology produces.

Being a radiologic technologist will give them the skills to be able to work anywhere with flexible hours. They are required in every modern hospital, so they’ll never be tied down to just one specific area. If they don’t see their future as working in a hospital, then there is also demand in care centers, diagnostic labs and clinics.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the average salary for a radiologic technologist was $56,670 as of 2015 which is a great living for most. It is well above average when compared to all other occupations as a whole. It’s a salary which gives reward for the hard work that goes into the role. Not only is the pay great, but they will have that sense of achievement everyday knowing that they have made a positive impact on people’s lives. Being a radiologic technologist is a career to be proud of as it is a highly respected position within the community.

Work Environment of Radiologic Technologist

General Environment


Due to the nature of the role, the vast majority of radiologic technologists work is done in a hospital alongside the highly advanced equipment. There are rare occasions when visits are done in highly specialized vehicles.

Office Environment


A radiological technologist is not a 9-5 office position and for anyone looking for the opposite of that, it can be a fantastic role. It’s a physical role that demands the constant interaction with patients and the analyzing of data.



The equipment that technologists specialize in is highly advanced, extremely expensive and dangerous if used incorrectly. For these reasons, they are kept in hospitals and therefore, that’s where the job will be situated. Radiologic technologists are an essential part of hospital life and they will always be available.

Social Environment


Radiologic technologists spend a lot of time with patients and have a vital role in their care. If a patient requires a machine that they specialize in, then it’s likely that there is, or potentially is, a serious medical issue. This requires compassion and empathy from the technologists and having great social skills is beneficial in the role.

Self-employed workers 


An MRI machine isn’t exactly the type of thing that they can easily take with them. As stated, due to the nature of the equipment, it almost always has to be in a hospital. Radiologic technologists will be employed by the hospital that owns the equipment that they use.

Work Schedules of Radiologic Technologist

Radioactive imaging can be required at any time of the day and therefore radiologic technologists are required to be available during all hours. Required to work around 40 hours per week, it could be at evenings or weekends and technologists have to be flexible with their working hours. This isn’t a job where they’ll have a standard rate of hours and there will be a requirement to work their life around the ever-changing demands of the role.

Important Qualities of Radiologic Technologist


Communication skills

Communication is vital for almost all roles in the health care profession due to the serious consequences that misinformation can have. For a radiologic technologist, they need to be able to accurately report and document what medical procedures a patient has had and what procedures that they need to have.

This information can play a vital role in a patient’s care and everyone else who is treating them needs to know the exact information so that the right diagnosis and treatment can be done. Communication is also vital when talking to colleagues and educating people on the required procedures.

High alert at all times

While a radiologic technologist can have a various range of tasks, they can also have various degrees of stress placed on them every day. A lot of what they do will be routine and can be done at their own pace. There will be times however when a trauma patient needs urgent care and they are required to speedily assess and imagine a critical patient. They need to be alert at all times so that if they are required, they can be there to help in an instant and provide emergency assistance to their colleagues.

High attention to detail

This one is fairly obvious when it comes to the world of a radiologic technologist as they have to be able to see what others can’t. Their specially trained eye will be able to analyze anything that may be wrong. That attention to detail is required to make sure the perfect imagine can be formed by placing the body in the correct position. This will allow doctors to make the best possible judgements when it comes to the patient.


There are many factors that can affect the quality of an image, and a radiologic technologist will have to have them all controlled.


There is often an irony in a radiologic technologist when it comes to patient care. Often, they need to place people in situation or positions that might be uncomfortable. This is obviously in the best interest of the patient, but a technologist has to be considerate to the needs of the patient and let them know the reasons behind the decisions they are making.


Also, patients who interact with a radiologic technologist may be scared, embarrassed or in a lot of pain. It’s vital to understand this and treat the patient accordingly. To be great in this field they have to be considerate and kind.

Willingness to listen

In most healthcare professions, including that of radiologic technologists, the learning never really stops. While the majority of the information they need will have been obtained by the time they have got their license, it’s important to never stop advancing their knowledge and keeping up to date with the latest technology and the latest studies.


There also needs to be a willingness to learn from others and keep their ears open to the ideas of others. To be great at their job, they want to go beyond the minimum level required and always aspire to be as good at the job as they can be.


A radiologic technologist is a respected position where they are expected to be highly competent in their role. They should be able to work in the most part without instruction or direction from management and they will be expected to handle their own tasks.


They should be self-motivated to produce the highest quality of work they can and also use their initiative if required to produce the best results for the patient. Patients and their organization will rely on them to make the right calls in the interest of everyone.


They will be depended on to produce the correct results at the right time. Radiologic technologists are a crucial part in the running of the hospital and doctors and patients will be trusting them to do their job correctly to the best of their abilities.


The information that they give out and the images that they take can be vital in assessing the best possible care. They will be expected to be available at any time. The more trust that people have in them, the more respected they will be among your peers.

High level of knowledge

As with any role in the medical profession, radiologic technologists are expected to have a high level of knowledge about their industry, and all the various aspects of it. In this role there is a lot of technical information that is required to be learned which plays a crucial role in capturing the correct image.


They want to be able to approach their job with confidence and clarity, and that only comes from being able to know what they are talking about in the finest detail. Being left having to ask questions about the tasks they should know never leaves a good impression with their colleagues.


Trying to take the perfect image can be difficult. They may be struggling to find the perfect position in which to position the body, or it may be the case that they a struggling to keep the patient still. Patience is required in order to take the best image possible and it’s more important to spend a little extra time to get the information that they need rather than settling for a low-quality image. There will also be times where patients can become difficult or upset, in these situations it’s important to be understanding and spend that little extra time required caring for them.

Accountable for their actions

Mistakes are, unfortunately, as part of hospital life. Sometimes those mistakes can be minor and easily rectified; other times, the consequences can be a lot more serious. In any situation where mistakes are made, it’s important to hold their hands up, take responsibility and be accountable. They will be respected a lot more if they look to accept and learn from their mistakes rather than trying to ignore them and diverting the blame.


While it may be a hard thing to do, owning up to any errors they make will mean that they are a lot more respected in the long run.

Similar Occupations

Here are some of the occupations that are most transferable with the skills and qualities required of a radiologic technologist.

  • Radiation oncologists
  • Radiology assistant
  • Interventional Radiology 
  • Dosimetrists and radiation therapists
  • Radiologic technologists and sonographers

Projected Future of a Radiologic Technologist

Career Prospects

The employment of radiologic technologists is expected to grow by 12 percent over the next 10 years, which is a stable rise in the industry. As the advancement of medicine and technology continues, the need for specialists in medical imaging is only going to continue. Due to the high nature of the qualifications, any job opportunity would be competitive so it’s always advisable to make the most out of any experience and further education opportunities.

Job Outlook

Due to the ever-increasing average age of the population, the need for complex medical diagnosis and procedures will also continue. Technologists will always be in high demand and it’s an industry that won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. There will always be constant job openings throughout the industry.

          Potential Increase

Due to the respect for the role and the qualifications required to excel in it, there are always opportunities for radiologic technologists to advance their knowledge and move on to the next stage. This could be as a specialist in a specific type of imaging or moving over to a related career. A radiologic technologist will never find themselves stuck in the same career without any potential for advancement of their own earnings and knowledge.

Career Options

Due to the nature of the equipment they are likely to use, there isn’t many different locations that a technologist is able to work in. A hospital is the most likely destination, however thee are different options that can be taken once a license for becoming a radiologic technologist has been obtained. As previously mentioned, this could be as a specialist or in a related career. A technologist would never be short of options if they were looking into something new.

How to Become a Radiologic Technologist

1. Get the qualifications

As with any medical profession, you can’t work unless you’re qualified to do so. There are three pathways into this line of work which can be done either with a bachelor’s degree, obtaining a certificate from a formal radiology program or an associate degree.

Due to the nature of the role and what they are working with, it is a profession that requires an intense level of knowledge in the technological aspects of the role. All programs in the industry have to be accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology so it’s imperative they are fully aware of the path they are taking.

While there are other paths that can be taken to the role, the one that is most obvious is through an associate degree program. This is a 2-year program that will incorporate both clinical and classroom study. Part of this study will include the various specialized aspects of the role like medical imaging technology and anatomy.

2. Apply for license

Once the required qualifications are obtained then it is time to apply for a license. The specific requirements for this vary from state to state and therefore, it’s important to know exactly what your state requires before starting the process.

The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) provides the qualification and many states use their examinations for licensing purposes. To receive the certification, you must have successfully completed the radiologic technology program and passed the ARRT certification examination.

3. Search for employment

Once the hard work has been done with obtaining the relevant qualifications as well as obtaining a license, it is time to search for employment. As discussed, radiologic technologists mainly work in hospitals and there is always demand for this type of employment.

There are other such environments such as imaging centers and private doctor’s offices, but these are a lot rarer. Due to the advancement of technology and the corresponding reduction in costs, it’s likely that the working environments for radiologic technologists will increase over time.

4. Further yourself

The learning for a radiologic technologist is never over and there are always opportunities to advance your career. Each radiological machine can have its own specialty, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), and specializing in one of these areas can be a great way to increase your income and obtain an even more respected profession in the future.

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