Radiology technicians work in hospitals, doctor's offices, and diagnostic imaging centers, prepping patients and using radiologic imaging equipment to take diagnostic x-rays at the request of physicians. Employment in the field of radiology is growing and anyone wishing to become a radiology technician should have many employment opportunities. However, future radiology technicians must first complete a training program and pass any state required exams for licensing or certification.
Though some radiology technicians will advance in the field to perform more specialized procedures such as CT scans and mammograms, the first step taken to become a radiology technician is generally entrance into a degree program of two to four years that covers basic radiologic procedures. One-year programs are also offered, but those programs are for current medical professionals looking to switch to a new area or to gain a specialization in a current radiology occupation. A two year associate's degree from a school or program accredited by The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiology Technology is the minimum standard.
It's a good idea to peruse the available programs early once the decision to become a radiology technician is made. Some programs will have admittance criteria such as previous course work in biology, chemistry, or math, or other school specific requirements. Accredited programs can be found at community colleges, four year universities, hospitals, and vocational schools. There are a couple of other things besides curriculum to look for when deciding on a program.
One is financial aid. State schools tend to have lower tuition costs and more government aid, but private programs may have grant funding and scholarships as well. Cost should be weighed against individual needs. The next are internships and job placement. Those with a foot in the door at a medical facility won't be as concerned with internships and the medical affiliations of a school program, but someone who has yet to make networking contacts in the medical field would be well-served to choose an academic program that provides internships at large hospitals or medical centers. This will aid the person who wants to become a radiology technician after program completion.
Once initial training and education has been completed, most candidates will need to acquire state-mandated certification and registration. The majority of states require this now, and it generally entails completion of an accredited program and passing The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification exam. Many who want to become a radiology technician will also want to advance to specialized tasks, supervisory positions, or teaching in the future. These can all be achieved by gaining more experience and advanced education.