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X-Ray Technician Career

An x-ray technician, or radiographer, plays a critical role in assisting physicians in managing the overall digital imaging process. Typically a career as a radiographic technician involves preparing patients for x-ray imaging (including IV and any radiopaque injections), processing and developing the film, and providing information to patients regarding procedures. An x-ray technician also spends time filling the needs of physician's orders and making sure medical coding, medical billing, and insurance authorizations are in order. The working environment generally is within a medical office, hospital or medical clinic.

X-ray machines and examination rooms are designed to reduce the level of radiation exposure, but the radiology technologist must take special care to protect the patient and all others present from overexposure. Radiographic technicians also need to be conscious of patient needs and have a gentle touch when positioning patients.

Programs to Consider:

More advanced forms of diagnostic radiography, such as magnetic resonance imagery (MRI), require additional steps, such as administering special contrast fluids or injections to patients. The xray technician who is responsible for such jobs often has more experience and/or additional medical training or certifications. 

Most states require x-ray technicians to be fully trained, licensed, and nationally certified due to the high level of responsibility that goes with the job. 

Training programs vary in length from 1 year (certificate), or 2 years (associate's degree), to 4 years (bachelor's degree). Certificate programs are most appropriate for experienced radiographers, registered nurses, or other medical assistants who want to change their field of expertise or specialize in one of the more advanced radiographic techniques (such as CT scans). Two-year associate's degrees in x-ray technology are most prevalent among people who are just starting out in radiography. Bachelor's degrees are more common for individuals interested in supervisory or administrative positions.

The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists offers voluntary certification for radiologic technologists and technicians who have graduated from an accredited radiologic technology program and passed the certification exam. Hiring preference is often given to certified radiographers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for x-ray technicians is very favorable, and even more so for those with additional or specialized training. Medical facilities tend to give preference to multi-skilled applicants when hiring, so even an experience radiographer can benefit from further training in MRI, CT scans, and other complex imaging procedures. 

In 2004, the highest 10% of radiologic technicians in the U.S. earned more than $60,210 annually. Given the current demand for trained x-ray technicians, the Bureau of Labor expects medical facilities to offer hiring incentives, such as better compensation and improved working conditions, to attract qualified workers.

Whether you are new to the medical field or an experienced professional looking to change specializations, our schools can help you achieve your goals. Check out our featured xray technician training schools and take the first steps to starting your career as a healthcare professional today.