What Does a Radiology Tech Do?
Radiology techs look inside the human body with only imaging equipment — no scalpel required. They are the health care professionals who perform diagnostic imaging procedures, such as X-rays and computed tomography (CT) scans. They often specialize in a certain modality, such as mammography or bone density scans. They can also specialize in the use of a certain machine, such as MRI technologists or technicians, who operate magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners.
Radiology techs work closely with physicians. They typically work in hospitals or doctors’ offices. Their work hours may include nights, weekends and holidays. These health care specialists are in demand. Employment for radiology techs is expected to grow about 7% in the next decade, faster than the average for all occupations.
- 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
Radiology tech jobs require post-secondary education after high school, but there are several ways to achieve that goal. Some 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. A few obtain a bachelor’s degree.
Radiology techs graduate from an accredited program and get a license, which is required in most states. Some states and employers require techs to pass a certification exam or obtain certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). To understand the rules in a particular state, consult the state’s health board.
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 to explore other modalities such as mammogram, CT technology, DEXA and MRI.
- Have good physical strength
- Are detail-oriented
- Enjoy working with complex equipment and technology
- Have good interpersonal skills
- Have empathy
- Have strong math skills