This article will describe what a radiology technician degree is, how to earn one, and why it can be a good choice for those interested in a healthcare career. We also will offer information about high quality online programs in radiology. You have the option of earning either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in radiology.
What Is A Radiology Technician Degree?
A radiology technician degree is usually either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree that will teach you how to produce clear, accurate images of the body. These images are used to allow doctors to diagnose and treat a variety of medical conditions that would be difficult to diagnose and treat any other way.
A degree in radiation technology teaches you how to use complex imaging equipment including:
- Computerized axial tomography
- Positron emission tomography
This degree program will teach you how to guide patients through every step of a typical medical imaging procedure so that you can get the highest quality image possible.
Radiology technicians must be able to properly prepare the patient for every step of the medical imaging process. You may need to sometimes inject a barium or iodine based contrast agent to boost the quality of the image.
Radiology technicians often specialize in specific types of tests, such as mammograms, and these workers who have advanced skills in such specialties are highly valued.
Other common duties of radiology technicians are:
- Adjusting and maintaining various types of imaging equipment
- Exactly follow the orders of doctors on which areas of the body that need to be imaged
- Protect patients by shielding any exposed areas that are not in need of imaging
- Operate sophisticated and computerized equipment to take the necessary images
- Work with doctors to conduct evaluation of the images and decide if more images are needed
Many radiology technicians may also work as MRI technologists. They will need to inject their patients with various contrast dyes so that images will show accurately on the scanner. The MRI machine uses magnetic fields and and contrast agent to give images that a skilled doctor can use to determine what the medical problem is.
Depending upon whether you earn an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree, your degree program will usually focus on chemistry, biology, theory of radiology, mathematics, patient safety and anatomy.
Why Earn a Radiology Technician Degree?
There are many more healthcare related jobs that will be available in the coming years. The field of radiology is not an exception. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the demand in this profession will be 9% greater by 2024, which is faster than average. Also, the employment for specially trained MRI technologists will be 10% by 2024, which is also faster than average.
The population of the US is getting older, and technology is getting better. As people are living longer, they will need to have more imaging tests done to diagnose many medical conditions from heart disease to Alzheimer’s disease.
In some areas, it is expected that there will be greater demand in this field in outpatient medical clinics as more of these procedures are done outside of hospitals to reduce costs.
Another good reason to work in this field is that you can often become a radiology technician with only an associate’s degree. You also will need to be licensed whether you get an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. You can earn a certification by taking the exam that is offered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.
When it comes to pay, this also is a well-compensated field, especially for those with only an associate’s degree. The median salary in this field is $56,700 per year, with those with a bachelor’s degree and more experiencing earning as much as $80,000 per year.
Choosing Your Radiology Technician Degree Path
Most radiology technicians have an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree. There also are some post secondary programs that will lead to a certificate after a year of training.
These programs will have both classroom and clinical work. Common classes in these radiology programs are patient care, anatomy, radiation physics, and image evaluation.
Online Degree Options
There are many flexible and online degree programs that will offer you the skills, training and knowledge that you need to start your radiology technician career.
You have the option of taking an associate’s degree course in radiology, which is most often offered by a local technical school or community college. Once you have that associate’s degree and work experience, you can continue your education.
For those who want to earn a bachelor’s degree online in this exciting medical field, you might choose the Bachelor of Health Science in Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences and Radiologic Science from the University of Missouri.
This online bachelor’s degree in radiography will provide you with the skills and leadership ability to be a manager in all of the key areas of modern medical imaging, including research, marketing, sales and patient care.
This program is suitable both for those who do not have a background in radiology imaging, and also for those who have a previous degree and experience in the field.
Your classes will cover clinical ethics; CT physics and procedures; MRI physics and procedures; public health principles; sectional anatomy and radiologic pharmacology.
Completing this program successfully will require you to have 120 credit hours, which can include transfer credits from another university. At least 30 of the last 36 credit hours must come from the University of Missouri.
For admission, you will need to have nine credit hours in biological, physical and mathematical science, and also nine hours in behavioral and social science.
Your core classes will include these:
- Radiologic Pharmacology
- Sectional Anatomy
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging
- Computed Tomography
- Healthcare Organization and Leadership
- Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Diagnostic Applications
- Introduction to Applied Statistics
Your potential employers who may hire you as a radiology technician will prefer to hire professionals who have graduated from a program that is properly accredited. Accreditation by a respected national body ensures that the university has met all relevant standards and has provided you with the skills needed to perform as a radiology technician.
In radiology, you should look for a program that has been accredited by JRCERT, or the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology. This is the only accreditation body in the US that has been recognized by the US Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or CHEAT for accrediting distance degree programs in radiography, radiation therapy and magnetic resonance.
A career as a radiology technician will offer you with many fine job options, good salary, room for growth, and a high degree of respect in the healthcare field.