With the growing demand in healthcare services, medical related jobs, including x-ray technicians, are considered very essential in today’s society. In fact, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) expects the employment for this type of career to grow up to 21 percent in 2022. As people grow older, different medical conditions, such as osteoporosis and heart ailments will likely to occur, which can require the need for this type of procedure. Students who want to enter the medical field will see great opportunities by pursuing a career in this particular discipline.
The role of x-ray technicians is very important in the medical field. They are the ones who perform diagnostic imaging procedures that help physicians determine the condition of their patients, and thus, enable them to provide necessary treatment. Common duties of x-ray technicians include the following:
- Operating medical imaging equipment
- Performing minor repairs and maintaining the x-ray equipment
- Producing accurate and clear images of affected parts of the body for diagnosis
- Introducing radiocontrast agents that are necessary for the x-ray procedure
- Taking the patient’s medical history accurately
- Keeping the records of the patients
- Supporting, helping, assisting, and monitoring the patients
Other responsibilities may also be included depending on the level of expertise and knowledge of the x-ray technician. Definitely, the more advanced the training, the more responsibilities the technician will have.
Education Requirements for X-ray Technicians
Like many other profession, you have to take a certain program and complete the necessary requirements to become a certified x-ray technician. Depending on your chosen program, the number of years you will spend in school may vary. There are commonly three options in order to obtain a diploma for this particular field: the certificate program, associate’s degree, and bachelor’s degree.
One of the most practical ways to become an x-ray technician is to complete a certificate program in radiography or related study. Certificate programs usually last anywhere between 21 and 24 months of fulltime study. There are various schools and institutions that offer this type of program, which are certified by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). Usually, community colleges and technical and vocational schools offer this type of program. Common course topics include:
- Introduction to Radiologic Technology
- Imaging & Processing
- Radiation Exposure
- Medical Terminology
- Patient Care
Among the different courses offered for x-ray technicians, the associate’s degree is the most prevalenteducational path for this field. Associate degree programs usually take 2 years of fulltime study to complete, and students spend their time inside the classroom, learning the necessary topics for this line of work. Depending on the coursework, students may also spend their time in clinical setting, learning about the basics and process of their chosen field. Common course topics include:
- Introduction to Radiography
- Radiographic Techniques
- Human Anatomy and Physiology
- Radiographic Anatomy and Positioning
- Radiographic Special Procedures
For those who want to become more specialized and expand their knowledge in radiography, a bachelor’s degree is also available. This program is one of the best programs offered as it opens more career opportunities for aspiring x-ray technicians. Aside from performing diagnostic imaging procedure, a graduate with a bachelor’s degree may also be qualified to perform more complex procedures and be promoted to higher positions, such as supervisor, chief radiologic technologist, or administrator. Additionally, they also get the chance to specialize in a particular concentration, such as mammography, advanced science and medicine, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and computed tomography scan (CAT-scan). Bachelor’s degree programs usually take 4 years of fulltime study to complete, and offered by universities. Common course topics include:
- Human Anatomy and Physiology
- Health Physics
- Clinical Experience
- Radiation Physics and Imaging Equipment
- Diagnostic Imaging
- Principles of Chemistry
- Image Production and Evaluation
- Patient Care
Certification and Licensure
Taking the licensure exam for x-ray technicians is an option, but some states require graduates to become certified to get hired. Being a licensed x-ray technician also opens more opportunities for graduates and gives them an edge in the tough competition as it proves their expertise and knowledge in the field. The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) is the agency that gives licensure exam and registers x-ray technicians who meet educational and ethical standards.
Registered technicians are also required to take continuing programs to enhance their knowledge and keep abreast of the latest procedures and developments in the medical field.