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Radiologic Technology Program Career Facts

Nature of Work

Radiologic Technologists, also called radiographers, take x-rays and administer non-radioactive materials into patients' blood streams for diagnostic purposes. The also produce x-ray films (radiographs) of internal parts of the body for use in diagnosing medical problems. They prepare patients for radiologic examinations by explaining the procedure, removing articles such as jewelry, through which x-rays cannot pass, and positioning patients so that the parts of the body can be appropriately radiographed.

To prevent unnecessary radiation exposure, they surround the exposed area with radiation protection devices, such as lead shields, or limit the size of the x-ray beam. Radiographers position radiographic equipment at the correct angle and height over the appropriate area of a patient's body. Using instruments similar to a measure tape, they may measure the thickness of the section to be radiographer and set controls on the x-ray machine to produce radiographs of the appropriate density, detail, and contrast. Experienced radiographers may perform more complex imaging procedures. For fluoroscopes, radiographers prepare a solution of contrast medium for the patient to drink, allowing the radiologist, a physician who interprets radiographs, to see soft tissues in the body.

Some radiographers, called CT technologists, operate computerized tomography scanners to produce cross sectional images of patients. Others operate machines using strong magnets and radio waves rather than radiation to create an image and are called magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technologists.

Radiologic Technologists must follow physicians' orders precisely and conform to regulations concerning use of radiation to protect themselves, their patients, and coworkers from unnecessary exposure. Most radiologic technologists are employed in hospitals, clinics and physician offices.

Employment Prospects

Faster-than-average growth in demand for radiographers will arise from an increase in the number of middle-aged and older persons who are the primary users of diagnostic procedures. Radiologic technologists who are educated and credentialed in more than one type of diagnostic imaging technology, such as radiography and sonography or nuclear medicine, will have the best employment opportunities.

Skills You Need

Skills in the area of communication, physical strength, and observation are required for a successful career as a radiologic technologist. Radiologic technologists and technicians should be sensitive to patients' physical and psychological needs. They must pay attention to detail, follow instructions, and work as part of a team. In addition, operating complicated equipment requires mechanical ability and manual dexterity. High school courses in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology are helpful.

Expected Earnings

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states the average median income for radiologic technologists in May 2011 was $55,000.  They project a growth rate for new jobs at 28% for the period between 2010-2020.

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