Every day, tens of thousands of people get x-rays or other forms of medical imaging. Commonly used medical imaging procedures include x-rays, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear medicine scans, bone density scans and ultrasound. A mother who suspects that her son has broken his arm may demand for him to be x-rayed; a man suspected of having a stroke may undergo a CT scan. A patient suffering from spinal problems may undergo an MRI scan, and a person having problems with their heart may benefit from a nuclear medicine procedure. If an elderly father has been hunched over frequently, he may need to have a bone density scan, and pregnant women commonly undergo ultrasound procedures to determine the sex of their babies.
All of these medical imaging procedures are performed by health care professionals known as radiologic technologists. After doctors and nurses, radiologic technologists are the third largest category of health care professionals. With so many radiologic technologists filling important roles in hospitals, clinics and private doctors’ offices, it’s important that radiologic technologists have the proper qualifications in order to provide the best possible patient care. If you’re interested in becoming a radiologic technologist, read on to find out what you’ll have to do in order to become certified.
The organization that has taken on the job of making sure that radiologic technologists in the United States are providing high quality care is the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). The ARRT tests, certifies and registers more than 250,000 radiologic technologists each year in order to uphold the rigorous standards of the profession. If you have made it through both classroom and clinical education, passed certain tests and met the ethics requirements set out by the ARRT, you will receive the designation “R.T.” which stands for Registered Technologist. But the ARRT’s involvement doesn’t end there; if you want to retain that R.T. designation, you will have to re-register that certificate each year, undergo continuing education and make sure you are complying with ARRT guidelines.
- Nuclear Medicine Technology
- Radiation Therapy
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging
- Computed Tomography (CT)
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- Quality Management (QM)
- Bone Densitometry
- Cardiac-Interventional (CI) Radiography
- Vascular Interventional (VI) Radiography
- Vascular Sonography
- Breast Sonography
Although certification by the ARRT is not mandatory, it is a good idea to become certified anyway. Some states require you to be licensed, and they use ARRT certification as part of the licensing requirements. If you live in a state that doesn’t require licensing, you should still be certified because employers are more likely to hire someone who is certified than someone who is not. Patients who realize you have gone the extra mile in becoming certified will feel assured that they are in capable hands.
The first step in the process of becoming a qualified radiologic technologist starts before you ever get in touch with the ARRT; you need to make sure that the educational program you will be attending is approved by the ARRT. It may be cheaper or more convenient to attend a program that does not have ARRT approval, but in the long run, it may cost you more when you cannot get ARRT certification. The ARRT approves programs that are based on educational standards it has developed, and it also accepts programs that are recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the United States Department of Education (USDE). Under current ARRT requirements, you are eligible for certification if you attend a program that does not grant a degree. However, after 2015, the ARRT is changing its requirements; you will need to have, at a minimum, an associate degree to qualify for ARRT certification. This degree does not have to be in the field of radiologic sciences. If you would like to find a list of schools that meet the appropriate requirements, please check out this link: https://www.arrt.org/Education/Educational-Programs
After you have graduated from an ARRT approved program, you will have to pass a certification exam. You will be allowed to take the test three times over a period of three years. After you have passed the exam, if you agree to comply with the ARRT’s ethic standards, then you are qualified to become certified by the ARRT. However, this is not the end of your interaction with the ARRT. You will need to register with them each year in order to maintain this certification. Requirements for annual registration include complying with the ARRT’s rules and regulations, continuing to comply with the ARRT’s ethics standards and going to continuing education classes that meet ARRT requirements. If you keep up to date with your registration, you will be allowed to continue using the initials “R.T.” after your name and to advertise the fact that you are certified by the ARRT, but if you let your registration lapse, you will not be allowed to do so anymore.