If you want to become a radiologic technician, you’ll have to undergo education and training; maybe you can walk into a grocery store with absolutely no experience and still manage to get hired as a cashier, but that’s not how it works for radiologic technicians. If you are a high school student interested in the medical imaging field, take as many math, physics, computer, chemistry and biology classes as you can. Make sure to get good grades in these classes and in the rest of your classes; the higher your grades, the more options you’ll have when it comes time to select a medical imaging program. For most of these programs, the most important prerequisite is that you have a high school diploma or GED.
It’s also a good idea to volunteer at a hospital or doctor’s office. Volunteering isn’t just the kind of thing that admissions officers love; it is a great way to get an opportunity to visit the radiology department of a hospital or talk to some radiologic technicians. You’ll have a leg up on the competition if you actually have hands-on experience in a medical setting. In addition, you can use your time volunteering to figure out if you actually want to work in the medical field. For example, if during your time at a hospital, you realize that you don’t have what it takes to work in the medical field, you can change your career plans very easily; it’s a lot harder to change your career plans after you’ve invested thousands of dollars and several months in a program.
Once you have acquired a high school diploma or GED, your next step is to find a program. You can start by requesting information from schools that you find promising. You may not want to look at schools that are not approved by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) because if you go to a school that is not approved by the ARRT, you will not be able to get certified by the ARRT. You can find a list of ARRT approved schools on the ARRT’s website. Some approved schools include :
- City College of San Francisco in San Francisco, California
- Aims Community College in Greeley, Colorado
- Edison State College in Fort Myers, Florida
- East-West University in Chicago, Illinois
- Our Lady of the Lake College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- Essex County College in Newark, New Jersey
After graduation, you should look into getting certified by the ARRT. Although certification is not mandatory, it is highly recommended. For example, many states require radiologic technicians to be licensed, and oftentimes, they use the ARRT’s certification exams for their own state licensing. If you have to take the certification exams in order to be licensed, why not kill two birds with one stone and get certified as well? Even if you live in a state that does not require you to be licensed, employers still prefer to hire certified radiologic technicians. Hiring a certified radiologic technician means that the ARRT is guaranteeing that the employer is getting an employee who has received a certain level of education.
Currently, the ARRT allows individuals without degrees to become certified. This means that people who only have certificates can be certified by the ARRT. However, starting in 2015, the ARRT will require people to have a minimum of an associate degree to qualify for certification. This associate degree does not have to be in the field of radiological sciences; any degree will meet the requirement. If you were certified before 2015, this requirement will not apply to you. The reason why the ARRT decided to create this requirement is because the organization feels that taking general education classes will further radiologic technicians’ cognitive, interpersonal and communication skills and make them better at their jobs.
Don’t think that receiving your certification means that you are done with education. Radiologic technicians are required to register with the ARRT each year to maintain their certification. One requirement for registration is that you need to report 24 credits of continuing education classes every year. There are two ways to meet this requirement: You can either pass an ARRT approved exam, or you can actually take classes. Classes that meet ARRT requirements include things like activities approved by Recognized CE Evaluation Mechanisms; advanced CPR certification; relevant academic courses taken through accredited schools; and activities undertaken for licensing purposes in certain states.