How Do I Become a Mammography Technician?

Andrea Cross
Andrea Cross
A mammography technician examines women's breasts for malignant changes using x-ray images.
A mammography technician examines women's breasts for malignant changes using x-ray images.

A mammography technician uses X-ray imaging to examine women's breasts for malignant changes. They provide a general screening service, a diagnostic service for women who have been referred due to tissue changes, and maintenance screening for women who have had breast cancer and subsequent treatment. In the U.S., as in many countries, there are particular requirements to become a mammography technician.

To become a mammography technician in the U.S., you first need to obtain a general degree in radiography. This degree can either be completely college based or can be partially hospital based, depending on where the college is located and the particular course. In order for your degree to be accepted by employers, the school must be accredited by the Department of Health. Programs can be two years in length if completely college based or three years if the program includes a practical element in a hospital or clinic.

Once you have obtained a general radiography degree, you must undertake specialist mammography training. In order for you to become a mammography technician, this training program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education (CAAHEP). These programs include a specified number of hours of theory instruction and training in a practical setting, during which you will be expected to carry out duties on patients under supervision. You must perform a certain number of mammograms before you are eligible for certification.

Certification is achieved in the U.S. through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists® (ARRT). This process includes meeting the education and ethics requirements and passing an exam that tests both the theoretical and practical knowledge of the applicant. Ethics requirements include, for example, not having been convicted of any serious crime. A fee is required to be paid for certification.

Each individual state issues its own licenses, and if you want to become a mammography technician, you must obtain the specific license for the state that you intend to work in. Finally, once you have qualified and are employed as a mammography technician, you are required to continually maintain your license and certification for the entirety of your career. You must keep current with the latest technological developments in your field and attend relevant training courses. Also, you are required to keep an ongoing portfolio providing evidence of your continuing study. These requirements can be obtained via continuing medical education (CME).

After you become a mammography technician, you may be employed by a hospital, clinic, or mobile service. You will be expected to interact with patients on a professional and compassionate basis and take the proper precautions when performing X-rays. Performing the procedures correctly is essential, and you will also be expected to carry out minor repairs to the equipment.

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    • A mammography technician examines women's breasts for malignant changes using x-ray images.
      A mammography technician examines women's breasts for malignant changes using x-ray images.