What Do Radiologic Technologists Do?
Doctors use x-rays, CAT scans and other equipment to diagnose their patients, develop treatment plans and evaluate their progress. As a radiologic technologist, you’ll administer these tests to patients or aid doctors in giving them. You’ll be responsible for patients’ comfort and safety during scans, along with operating the equipment and monitoring the results to be sure they’re usable. As medical care and options expand and the population ages, the need for radiologic technologists is increasing, with the number of positions predicted to rise 21% from 2012 to 2022. Almost 7,000 new technologist jobs are expected to open annually nationwide.
Radiologic Technologists Skills and Abilities
In addition to the electronics knowledge necessary to operate the equipment, you’ll have to have strong customer service and communication skills to assist patients who may be nervous or confused about procedures, and to work with doctors and other medical workers. You’ll also need a basic understanding of medicine and good vision to be able to review results and determine whether they’re clear enough for diagnostic purposes.
Radiologic Technologists Duties
As a radiologic technologist, your primary responsibility will be to use x-ray and other medical imaging equipment to produce images to be used to diagnose patients. You’ll be working directly with patients, taking down their medical histories, explaining procedures to them and ensuring their safety and comfort as you position them and the equipment. To operate the equipment you may have to physically move scanners and adjust controls, use radiation protection, and enter commands into a computer to specify scan sequences. You’ll process x-ray film and evaluate developed x-rays and computer-generated images, determining whether they meet necessary diagnostic standards, as well as monitoring video displays during scans and adjusting settings to improve the image quality.For certain types of tests, you’ll administer contrast agents to patients, both oral and injected, in order to produce more useful diagnostic images. You’ll work with physicians, nurses and other medical personnel to carry out special procedures like angiography and fluoroscopy. When necessary you’ll perform maintenance and minor repairs on equipment, and carry out administrative duties such as developing the department’s budget and assigning staff duties.
Radiologic Technologists Tools and Technology
Radiologic technologists can be called upon to use many different tools. In addition x-ray machines, CAT scanners and other medical imaging apparatus, you may need a number of medical devices to prepare patients and verify their safety during procedures, including:
- Hypodermic and intravenous needles to dispense contrast agents
- Blood pressure units
- Automated defibrillators
- Oxygen therapy delivery systemYou’ll also employ computers and other electronic equipment for viewing and processing images, such as:
- Digital Imaging Communications in Medicine (DICOM) system equipment
- Medical picture archiving computer systems (PACS)
- Magnetic tape recorders
- Medical x-ray film
Education and Training for Radiologic Technologists
A two-year associate’s degree in the field of radiology, including some clinical training, is required for most radiologic technologist jobs. Classes focus on topics such as anatomy, radiation physics and patient care. Entry-level technologist positions require no previous experience, but as certification is expected most positions do not provide any on-the-job training.
Radiologic Technologists Salary
Due to the degree of education required, radiologic technologist jobs earn decent salaries. While entry-level and other lower level positions may offer $37,000 a year or less, the average salary is $55,000, and can be much higher in some locales. The best-paid positions can offer between $80,000 to $110,000, depending on the state.
Radiologic Technologists Jobs by Geography
Most radiologic technologist positions are in hospitals and other large medical centers which have the equipment, concentrated in areas with high population density. The most jobs are found along the East Coast and Midwest along with California and Texas, with the highest-paying positions on the West Coast and Nevada, and other locations with wealthier communities.