If you want to become an x ray technician, there are a few things you need to know in advance about this healthcare profession. This blog will inform you about the history of the profession, the training and academic requirements necessary in order to enter the profession, and the schools where you can prepare and educate yourself.
Additionally, you’ll learn about the salary standards across the nation. Who pays, as in what industries employ the most clinicians as well as what states have the largest concentrations of professionals and how much can be earned in each state.
In short, if this is a career that you find interesting enough to begin researching, you will find just about everything you’ll need, in order to make an Informed decision about whether or not this is the profession for you.
Ok, let’s start by understanding just what an x-ray is. Simply put, it is a part of the electromagnetic spectrum as is light and radio waves. When we look at medical x-ray images, what we are seeing is the amount of penetration by the rays through various types of matter.
Because the calcium in bones allows the most absorption, they are easily seen as lighter objects in the images or radiographs. Other tissues such as skin and fat have less absorption and so look darker or gray.
So who invented this science? That award goes to a German scientist by the name of Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen in 1895. You can take “invented” lightly because; Rontgen actually discovered this miracle by accident. He did take the first known x-ray photograph which happened to be of his wife’s hand.
This new invention was further enhanced by the development of the x-ray tube by William Coolidge in 1913, which further enhanced the new medical field of radiology. This was the “go to” procedure for many decades in order to determine such things as the degree of bone fractures, and alien items or benign and malignant growths in a human body.
Then, things got even better with the invention of the CAT scan in 1975, by one, Robert Ledley. While an x-ray is a two-dimensional image, the CAT scan is a three-dimensional image of 3-5 millimeter slices of a body. In this way, not only can a surgeon discover the location of a tumor, but he can also determine just how deep it is in perhaps, the brain or another vital organ.
X Ray Technician And The Prerequisites
Now, let’s talk about what you need to qualify for acceptance into the educational programs throughout the nation. Here is where it gets good because, there are very few barriers to entry for this profession. In other words, you will need at least a high school diploma or a GED to qualify.
But the truth is, that if you don’t have some kind of background in math, science, chemistry, biology or physics, you may struggle with many of the courses that are standard X Ray technician requirements. Some schools maintain entrance exams and require a minimum score for entry. Some schools require that students take a course in medical assisting or show prior work experience in the health care field before entering the X-ray tech program.
Licensure For X-ray Tech
Question- do you need a degree or certification to become an x-ray technician? The short answer is, yes. A majority of states now require that X-ray technicians graduate from nationally accredited scholastic training programs and pass a state licensing examination.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says, the majority of employers prefer to hire radiologic technicians who hold, voluntary certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).
The certification requirements are due to change beginning in 2015. The ARRT will require all candidates for certification be in possession of an Associate of Science, or higher degree. The deadline for graduates to avoid this new requirement for certification is Dec. 31, 2014 (www.arrt.org).
X-Ray Technician Education
Today’s Radiology or x-ray tech schools teach more than just how to take an x-ray. Radiology programs also focus on:
- Patient care procedures,
- Medical ethics
- Medical terminology
Radiology or X Ray tech colleges also teach other diagnostic imaging technologies including computerized tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging, cardiovascular sonography (both invasive and non), and diagnostic medical sonography. Radiology programs also teach how to administer non-radioactive materials for diagnostic purposes.
As long as the school is accredited by the AART, you can rest assured that your education will prepare you to successfully master the licensing exam. The only question you might have is, what is the most cost effective way to complete this process.
First, you need to realistically consider your financial circumstances and develop a budget. Second, you need to determine if you will need, and can qualify for student loans. Once you have a better picture of the financial situation, you can then go shopping for an X Ray Tech school that fits your budget framework.
Some consideration can be given to reduce costs by completing a portion of your education at a community college, and then armed with an AAS, or AS degree finishing your academic requirements at a four-year state college or university radiology program.
X Ray Technician Salaries
An x-ray tech certification can be achieved in anywhere from six months to a year, and is the lowest paying position in this field. Salaries can range from $40,000 to $60,000 on average per year. Many people start earning an x ray technician salary at this level for a short amount of time before making the jump to the next level.
The next threshold is the Radiologic Technician with experience in Computed Tomography, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Mammography, Vascular Technology and Echocardiography. These professionals must have at least an Associate’s Degree in, Science (AS) or applied science (AAS) and can earn over $60,000 to a low six-figure income. This is the most common status that clinicians aspire to.
The third threshold is not as common but increases the income potential significantly. The title of radiologic technologist can boost incomes above $100,000 and requires at least a Bachelor’s of Science degree. These professionals can specialize in diagnostic radiography, sonography, fluoroscopy, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and nuclear medicine.
According to the bureau of labor statistics the top five industries offering the most x ray tech jobs are, medical and diagnostic labs, the federal executive branch, general medical and surgical hospitals, outpatient care centers, and private physician’s offices.
The five states that boast the highest levels in an x ray technician salary are, California, New York, Massachusetts, Washington DC, and Mississippi. The average salary ranges from $47,000 to $53,000.
The five states that pay the highest average wage for an X Ray Technologist are:
- Mississippi $68,000
- New York $66,000
- Massachusetts $65,000
- Washington DC $64,000
- California $61,000
As you can see, this healthcare career offers one of the best opportunities to earn a great salary and enjoy a wonderful standard of living. As an X Ray technician, you can be proud to be helping people every day, and provide a vital service to the medical industry.