To become an x-ray technician, you’ll need to earn a certificate, associate degree or bachelor’s degree in the field of radiography or radiology. Where you go to school is an important decision that will have ramifications upon your career for years to come. Thus, you should make an effort to try to find the right program for yourself instead of hastily enrolling in a school just because your friend’s cousin’s boyfriend’s sister liked it. Some things to take into consideration when searching for a program include the size of the classes, admission requirements, teaching styles, the length of the program, the relationship students have with teachers, how expensive the program is, if financial aid is available and the location of the school. A school may be especially attractive if it is a well-respected institution in the field of medical imaging or if its teachers are recognized medical imaging experts.
One key decision you’ll have to make will be whether you want to enroll in a traditional program that requires you to physically attend class or whether you want to do an online program. Some programs offer a combination of physical and online classes. There are several pros and cons to taking online classes. Online classes allow you to have a more flexible schedule, and you can attend class from anywhere on the planet. However, many people feel that they learn better when physically attending class at a school instead of sitting in front of a computer in their pajamas.
Don’t even bother to look at any schools that are not accredited by the United States Department of Education (DOE) or one of the DOE’s licensed agencies. If a school is accredited by the DOE, it means you can rest assured that you are getting an education that meets certain minimum educational requirements. It might be tempting to go to a non-DOE accredited school if it’s cheaper and convenient, but employers do not take degrees or certificates from these types of schools seriously; essentially, you’ll have paid all that money for a degree that the health care field will not accept. In addition, the school you choose should also be approved by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). The ARRT is an organization that deals with licensing, certification and professional standards for radiologic technicians. If your school is licensed by the ARRT, then you know you’ll be getting a great education that meets industry standards and will adequately prepare you for the upcoming licensing test. Here is a link to the AART’s search engine where you can find out if your school is recognized by them:
There are hundreds of ARRT approved and DOE accredited x-ray technician programs in the United States. Some examples of hospitals that offer programs include
- Bellevue Hospital Center in New York, NY (Link to program director’s contact info: HERE)
- LA County Harbor/UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, CA
- Danbury Hospital in Danbury, CT
- Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC
- St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, KS.
Universities that offer x-ray technician programs include:
- University of Nevada, Las Vegas in Las Vegas, NV
- University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital Medical Center in Miami, FL
- University of Minnesota Medical Center Fairview in Minneapolis, MN
- St. John’s University in Queens, NY
You can also find x-ray technician programs at community colleges such as LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, NY; Los Angeles City College in Los Angeles, CA; Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, FL; and Pima County Community College in Tucson, AZ. Subjects you can expect to cover in any given program include patient care procedures, anatomy, physiology, radiation protection, medical terminology, medical ethics, pathology, radiobiology, positioning of patients, radiation physics and principles of imaging.
After you’ve graduated, the odds are that you will need to be licensed and certified. Many states require x-ray technicians to be licensed because they deal with potentially dangerous radiation. Although being certified by the ARRT isn’t a requirement, many states use ARRT-administered exams for licensing purposes, so in those states, you might as well get certified too. If you live in a state that does not require licensing, it’s still a good idea to get ARRT certified since many employers would prefer to hire a certified x-ray technician over a non-certified one.
As the population of the United States continues to grow and the baby boomers get older, the number of x-ray technician jobs in the future is expected to dramatically increase. More x-ray technicians are hired in the states of South Dakota, Kentucky, West Virginia, Rhode Island and Tennessee than in any other states, and if you’re looking for the highest salaries, try to get hired in Nevada, Maryland, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Washington DC or northern California. Now is a great time to become an x-ray technician. If you’re looking for a field that offers plenty of challenges with lots of rewards, great salaries accompanied by even better benefits and an opportunity to help other people, then medical imaging is definitely the right choice for you.