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How do I Become a Radiographer?

By Carol Francois
Updated May 16, 2024
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There are three steps required to become a radiographer: post-secondary education, completion of the licensing examination and clinical experience. A radiographer works with x-ray machines and related technologies to take pictures of body parts for diagnostic purposes. In addition to this traditional role, they have become increasingly involved in surgical procedures, cancer treatment programs and where radiation treatment is recommended.

The training program required to become a radiographer varies slightly by institution. Some universities and community colleges offer a dedicated radiography program. In this program, the school coordinates the training at the hospital directly for the student. Other programs are jointly offered by a university and affiliated medical center. In this model, the first year of course work is completed at the college level and the remaining education is complete in a clinical setting.

The number of schools offering this program is quite limited, and high marks are required to obtain admission. Students who want to become a radiographer should be prepared to move to complete their schooling. People who are detail-oriented, precise and enjoy working with technology have the highest degree of satisfaction with this career.

Licensing requirements to become a radiographer vary by state, but all require the completion of a certification or registration process before you can be employed in this role. The licensing requirements typically include evaluation of academic credentials, clinical supervision hours and the completion of a written examination. Many states have continuing education requirements, where the licensing exam must be retaken after three to five years. These requirements ensure that radiographers keep their skills up to date and stay current with new technological advancements.

All programs require a specific number of clinical hours in order to become a radiographer. The number of hours required varies, but is typically between 200 to 300 hours. All hours must be under the direct supervision of a licensed radiographer.

Within the field of radiography, there are two specialists: computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These two technologies are used to complete images of soft tissue, the brain and to complete other diagnostic tests. Due to the increased image quality and lack of radiation, these two technologies have become increasingly common in hospital and diagnostic centers.

Qualified radiographers can find employment opportunities in hospitals, as instructors, sales representatives or consultants to diagnostic equipment manufacturers. Radiographers with five to ten years experience can be promoted to supervisor or department administrator roles. Additional education in management or business may be required to qualify for these positions.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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