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What Does a Radiology Tech Do?

Radiology techs look inside the human body with only imaging equipment — no scalpel required. 

These techs — also called radiologic technologists, radiographers or radiology technologists — perform diagnostic imaging procedures, such as X-rays and computed tomography (CT) scans. 

They often specialize in an imagery area, such as mammography or bone density scans. They can also specialize in the use of a certain machine, such as MRI techs, who operate magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners.

Radiology techs work closely with physicians as they make diagnoses and create treatment plans. That's why working well on a team and being a good communicator are two important skills for this job. 

If you have those skills and like the idea of working with technology to help solve medical issues, keep reading! There’s a lot to learn about this in-demand career.

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$ 39,000 - $ 93,000
$ 62,000
17,390+
A radiology tech consults with a doctor before scanning a patient
Medical imaging equipment evolves quickly, which means radiology techs often get the opportunity to learn new skills. (Credit: Tyler Olson/Shutterstock)

Why Becoming a Radiology Tech Is Worthwhile

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Amy Ward, radiology tech ambassador, at St. Augustine Imaging Center

Why Becoming a Radiology Tech Is Worthwhile

Amy Ward didn’t even know she wanted to work in radiology technology. When her best friend had an interview, she went along to be helpful — and she found her career.

"I just went for support," says Amy. "But I was the one who fell in love with the program!"

Amy says if you're compassionate and patient, this is a job well-worth considering.

Job Responsibilities

  • Prepare patients for the procedure
  • Review and update patient charts and doctor’s notes
  • Prepare and administer the mixture that patients drink to create contrast in diagnostic images
  • Position patients to ensure clear images
  • Monitor patients during procedure
  • Practice "ALARA," an acronym for As Low as Reasonably Achievable, which refers to keeping the exposure to radiation as far below the dose limits as possible
  • Calibrate the equipment
  • Log and organize image results
  • Develop film and assist radiologists with the interpretation of results
  • Ensure the proper sterilization and maintenance of equipment

How To Become A Radiology Tech: FAQs

Radiology tech requirements: What steps do I need to take?

Radiology tech jobs require post-secondary education after high school, but there are several ways to achieve that goal. Most earn an associate degree at a community college. Others enroll in training programs that include classroom time and clinical work and lead to a certificate. Some obtain a bachelor’s degree. 

Programs include courses on anatomy, pathology, image evaluation and patient care, as well as hands-on training in technology and radiation protection. 

Look for programs accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). Some states require this stamp of approval for licensure.

Most states and employers require techs to pass a certification exam or to obtain certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Most states also require that techs be licensed. 

Consult your state’s health board to understand how the rules will affect your journey.

Once you start working, that doesn’t mean your education is done. Continuing education is common in this profession. Registered radiologic techs must complete 24 hours of continuing education every two years and be in good standing with the ARRT to renew their license. 

Continuing education can also open up new opportunities. By earning other certifications, techs can explore areas of specialization such as mammogram, CT technology, DEXA and MRI.

Radiology techs are well-positioned to learn about and even move into related jobs such as MRI tech, cardiovascular technician and medical diagnostic sonographer. There are lots of opportunities for growth!

Are there any other qualifications?

Most employers look for techs trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

How long does it take to become a radiology tech?

A certificate program can take from one to two years. An associate degree takes two years. A bachelor’s degree takes four. Continuing education is ongoing.

Where do radiology techs work? And when?

They typically work in hospitals, outpatient centers and doctors’ offices. Their work hours may include nights, weekends and holidays, depending on the hours the facility is open.

Radiology tech job outlook: Is there a demand for this job?

Yes, these health care specialists are in demand. Employment for radiology techs is expected to grow about 6% from 2021 to 2031, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What skills and qualities would make someone a good fit for this job?

Successful techs tend to share these traits: 

  • Detail-oriented
  • Enjoy working with complex equipment and learning new technology
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Enjoy working on a team
  • Empathetic
  • Strong math skills
  • Organized
  • Good physical strength

(Extra: In this video, a radiologic technologist explains why those traits matter and why he loves being in this line of work.)

The bottom line on becoming a radiology tech: This medical role is a great fit for someone who likes working with patients and technology but isn’t ready for the time commitment of becoming a registered nurse or doctor. Plus, for a hard worker, there’s plenty of room for learning and career growth in this profession. That's just one of the reasons this is one of SkillPointe's highest-paying skilled jobs that don't require a bachelor's degree. If that sounds appealing to you, check out SkillPointe’s listings for training options near you.

Radiology Tech License and Certification Requirements

A license or certification may be required to get a job in this career. Each state determines the requirements, license fees and application process. SkillPointe can help you get the information you need quickly. Enter your ZIP code to get started.

Radiology Tech Training in Your Area

Coordinates
Hutchinson Community College logo

Radiologic Technology, A.A.S.

Hutchinson Community College
Hutchinson (138.4 Miles)
North Arkansas College logo

Radiological Technology, A.A.S.

North Arkansas College
Harrison (157.4 Miles)
Grayson College logo

Radiologic Technology, A.A.S.

Grayson College
Denison (239.5 Miles)
University of Arkansas - Pulaski Technical College logo

Radiography, A.A.S.

University of Arkansas - Pulaski Technical College
North Little Rock (248.8 Miles)
Southern Arkansas University Tech logo

Level 1 Radiography Technician/Operator Training

Southern Arkansas University Tech
Camden (292.5 Miles)
Southern Arkansas University Tech logo

Level 2 Radiography Technician/Operator Training

Southern Arkansas University Tech
Camden (292.5 Miles)
Southern Arkansas University Tech logo

Level 3 Radiography Technician/Operator Training

Southern Arkansas University Tech
Camden (292.5 Miles)
Jefferson College logo

Radiologic Technology, A.A.S.

Jefferson College
Hillsboro (293.1 Miles)
Southwest Tennessee Community College logo

Radiologic Technology, A.A.S.

Southwest Tennessee Community College
Memphis (352.4 Miles)
Northeast Community College logo

Radiologic Technology, A.A.S.

Northeast Community College
Norfolk (354.2 Miles)
Amarillo College logo

Radiography, A.A.S.

Amarillo College
Amarillo (366.5 Miles)
Lincoln Land Community College

Radiography, A.A.S.

Lincoln Land Community College
Springfield (376.9 Miles)