Radiologic Technologists & Technicians


Radiologic Technologists, Radiologic Technicians, & Radiographers

The Radiologic Technologist and Technician specialty, often referred to as radiographers, is excerpted from chapter four of Health Care Job Explosion , and features Radiologic Technologists and Technicians' working conditions, job outlook, training, employment, earnings, and related occupations. An interview with Debra Burton, a Radiologic Technologist, is included. Occupational groups are divided into primary and related occupations so that individuals can investigate other fields for additional job opportunities. 

Health Care Job Explosion features over 1,400 career exploration and job vacancy resources. Resources are grouped with each occupation and a sample of related resources are included with this occupation.


Interview With a Radiologic Technologist (R.T.)


Debra Burton, R.T. (R)(M)(CT) always knew she wanted to work in the medical field. After high school, while working at a local hospital in housekeeping, she took an emergency medical technician course. Soon after that, she was hired as a radiology aid. Her supervisors recognized her potential and encouraged her to go to school in radiologic technology.

While attending school full-time, she was able to work week-ends in radiology departments in small hospitals. She graduated from Fort Hays University in Kansas in 1987 with an Associate’s degree. After passing the boards, she became a registered radiological technologist.

Debra explained that one can get certified in several different specialties in diagnostic imaging. "There are always opportunities and such a variety of imaging modalities to learn." You can also get raises when you earn a new certification. Currently certified in computerized tomography (CT scans) and mammography, Debra is working towards an additional certification in abdominal sonography.

"There are always opportunities in the field," Debra says. She has worked in several hospitals, sometimes as a supervisor. If you would like to work in a certain specialty, she encourages you to go for it. "If there was a certain area of the state I wanted to live in, I would put my application in, and within six months I would usually get a job offer." Debra adds, "It is a job that every hospital needs, so you can go any-where: hospitals, clinics—even x-ray mummies at a university."

Working with different types of technologically sophisticated equipment is a favorite aspect of her career. "There is a lot to do with computers and digital technology. More and more of imaging is going into PACS (Picture Archival Computer Systems)" so images will be put onto DVDs instead of film.

Having worked in both large city hospitals and smaller rural hospitals, Debra prefers the smaller ones. Currently she works at the Ells-worth County Medical Center in a town of 2300 in central Kansas. "I have found one of the best things about working in small hospitals is that I have become part of a family in the workplace." Debra feels that she wouldn’t enjoy working without that family atmosphere. She also likes rural hospitals because they don’t feel as hectic as urban facilities. "You have more control over what you do." The disadvantage in small hospitals is that you are on call more often. "You can get called at 2 AM. When you have kids, you have to have a support system so you can go in to work for emergencies."


Debra really enjoys being a part of the healthcare team. "Radiologic technologists use their skills to greatly assist physicians in diagnosing their patients. A single radiograph can change the course of the way the physician is treating the patient." Much of diagnostic imaging is operator-dependent. In sonography, it is the technologist’s responsibility to point out which abnormalities the physician needs to examine.

Debra gets a lot of meaning and satisfaction from working closely with the physicians to assist in diagnosis. She points out, "Most of our job is routine, but in a split second it can turn into a fast-paced emergency situation."

Working in diagnostic imaging is "almost like an artist at times the way you can demonstrate a human body. You learn skills to obtain radiographs without disturbing a broken leg and causing undue pain to a patient." Debra is very enthusiastic about her career. "It is one-on-one work with the patients. You never know what each new day will bring interesting cases, interesting people, and new experiences."

Note: A complete description of this career choice with resources is available in chapter four of the new 4th edition of Health Care Job Explosion.



  • Radiographers
  • Sonographers
  • Radiation Therapy Technologists

Radiologic technologists and technicians operate sophisticated equipment to help physicians, dentists, and other health practitioners diagnose and treat patients. Workers in related occupations include:

  • Cardio-vascular Technologists and Technicians
  • Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians
  • Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
  • Nuclear Medicine Technologists
  • Radiation Therapists
  • Respiratory Therapists.


Significant Points

  • Job opportunities are expected to be favorable; some employers report difficulty hiring sufficient numbers of radiologic technologists and technicians.
  • Although hospitals will remain the primary employer, a greater number of new jobs will be found in physicians’ offices and diagnostic imaging centers.
Source : Health Care Job Explosion!, Fourth Edition By Dennis V. Damp


Nature of the Work

Radiologic technologists and technicians take x-rays and administer nonradioactive materials into patients’ bloodstreams for diagnostic purposes. Some specialize in diagnostic imaging technologies, such as computerized tomography ( CT) and magnetic resonance imaging ( MRI).

In addition to radiologic technologists and technicians, others who conduct diagnostic imaging procedures include cardiovascular technologists and technicians, diagnostic medical sonographers, and nuclear medicine technologists. (Each is discussed elsewhere in this chapter.)

Radiologic technologists and technicians, also referred to as radiographers, produce x-ray films (radiographs) of parts of the human 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 exposure to radiation, these workers 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 measuring tape, they may measure the thickness of the section to be radiographed and set controls on the x-ray machine to produce radiographs of the appropriate density, detail, and contrast. They place the x-ray film under the part of the patient’s body to be examined and make the exposure. They then remove the film and develop it.


Experienced radiographers may perform more complex imaging procedures. For fluoroscopies, 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 CT scanners to produce cross-sectional images of patients. Radiographers who operate machines that use strong magnets and radio waves, rather than radiation, to create an image are called MRI technologists.

Radiologic technologists and technicians must follow physicians’ orders precisely and conform to regulations concerning the use of radiation to protect themselves, their patients, and their coworkers from unnecessary exposure.
In addition to preparing patients and operating equipment, radio-logic technologists and technicians keep patient records and adjust and maintain equipment. They also may prepare work schedules, evaluate purchases of equipment, or manage a radiology department.

Working Conditions

Most full-time radiologic technologists and technicians work about 40 hours a week. They may, however, have evening, weekend, or on-call hours. Opportunities for part-time and shift work also are available.

Physical stamina is important, because technologists and technicians are on their feet for long periods and may lift or turn disabled patients. Technologists and technicians work at diagnostic machines, but also may perform some procedures at patients’ bedsides. Some travel to patients in large vans equipped with sophisticated diagnostic equipment.


Although radiation hazards exist in this occupation, they are minimized by the use of lead aprons, gloves, and other shielding devices, as well as by instruments monitoring exposure to radiation. Technologists and technicians wear badges measuring radiation levels in the radiation area, and detailed records are kept on their cumulative lifetime dose.



Radiologic technologists and technicians held about 182,000 jobs in 2004. More than half of all jobs were in hospitals. Most of the rest were in offices of physicians; medical and diagnostic laboratories, including diagnostic imaging centers; and outpatient care centers.

Source : Health Care Job Explosion!, Fourth Edition By Dennis V. Damp

Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement

Educational Opportunities - Online healthcare certificate and degree programs

Preparation for this profession is offered in hospitals, colleges and universities, vocational-technical institutes, and the U.S. Armed Forces. Hospitals, which employ most radiologic technologists and technicians, prefer to hire those with formal training.

Scholarships / Tuition Help

Some 1-year certificate programs are available for experienced radiographers or individuals from other health occupations, such as medical technologists and registered nurses, who want to change fields or specialize in CT or MRI. A bachelor’s or master’s degree in one of the radiologic technologies is desirable for supervisory, administrative, or teaching positions.

The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology accredits most formal training programs for the field. The committee accredited 606 radiography programs in 2005. Radiography programs require, at a minimum, a high school diploma or the equivalent. High school courses in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology are helpful. The programs provide both classroom and clinical instruction in anatomy and physiology, patient care procedures, radiation physics, radiation protection, principles of imaging, medical terminology, positioning of patients, medical ethics, radiobiology, and pathology.

Federal legislation protects the public from the hazards of un-necessary exposure to medical and dental radiation by ensuring that operators of radiologic equipment are properly trained. Under this legislation, the federal government sets voluntary standards that the states may use for accrediting training programs and certifying individuals who engage in medical or dental radiography.


In 2005, 38 states certified radiologic technologists and technicians. Certification, which is voluntary, is offered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. To be eligible for certification, technologists generally must graduate from an accredited program and pass an examination. Many employers prefer to hire certified radiographers. To be recertified, radiographers must complete 24 hours of continuing education every two years.

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.

With experience and additional training, staff technologists may become specialists, performing CT scanning, angiography, and magnetic resonance imaging. Experienced technologists also may be promoted to supervisor, chief radiologic technologist, and, ultimately, department administrator or director. Depending on the institution, courses or a master’s degree in business or health administration may be necessary for the director’s position. Some technologists progress by leaving the occupation to become instructors or directors in radiologic technology programs; others take jobs as sales representatives or instructors with equipment manufacturers.

Source : Health Care Job Explosion!, Fourth Edition By Dennis V. Damp

Job Outlook


Job opportunities are expected to be favorable. Some employers re-port difficulty hiring sufficient numbers of radiologic technologists and technicians. Imbalances between the demand for, and supply of, radio-logic technologists and technicians should spur efforts to attract and retain qualified workers, such as improved compensation and working conditions. Radiologic technologists who also are experienced in more complex diagnostic imaging procedures, such as CT and MRI, will have better employment opportunities, brought about as employers seek to control costs by using multi-skilled employees.

Employment of radiologic technologists and technicians is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2014, as the population grows and ages, increasing the demand for diagnostic imaging. Although healthcare providers are enthusiastic about the clinical benefits of new technologies, the extent to which they are adopted depends largely on cost and reimbursement considerations. For example, digital imaging technology can improve the quality of the images and the efficiency of the procedure, but remains expensive. Some promising new technologies may not come into widespread use because they are too expensive and third-party payers may not be willing to pay for their use.

Hospitals will remain the principal employer of radiologic technologists and technicians. However, a greater number of new jobs will be found in offices of physicians and diagnostic imaging centers. Health facilities such as these are expected to grow rapidly through 2014, due to the strong shift toward outpatient care, encouraged by third-party pay-ers and made possible by technological advances that permit more procedures to be performed outside the hospital. Some job openings also will arise from the need to replace technologists and technicians who leave the occupation.

Source : Health Care Job Explosion!, Fourth Edition By Dennis V. Damp


Median annual earnings of radiologic technologists and technicians were $43,350 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $36,170 and $52,430. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,020, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $60,210. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of radiologic technologists and technicians in May 2004 were: medical and diagnostic laboratories, $46,620; general medical and surgical hospitals, $43,960; and offices of physicians $40,290.

Source : Health Care Job Explosion!, Fourth Edition By Dennis V. Damp


Resources (Partial Listing)


There are 171 total resources are presented in the paperback version of Health Care Job Explosion! 4th edition by Dennis V. Damp for this occupational group. Resources include Job Ads, Job Hotlines, Job Fairs, Placement services, Associations, Books, Directories and Internet (Web) Sites. Your local library may have this book in their reference section or you can purchase a copy for $19.95 at your local bookstore or order through our toll free service at 1-800-782-7424 (Orders Only).


American Medical Technologists ( AMT) - 710 Higgins Rd., Park Ridge, IL 60068, 847/823-5169. http://www.amt1.com The AMT provides certification for several laboratory careers. The Web site has a career center with job ads, scholarship information and a list of accredited schools.

American College of Radiology - 1891 Preston White Dr, Reston, VA 20191, 703/648-8900. (http://www.acr.org/) Members are MDs. Search for accredited facilities by imaging modality and state.

American Healthcare Radiology Administrators (AHRA) - 490B Boston Post Road #101, Sudbury, MA 01776; 800/334-AHRA or 978/443-7591. (http://www.ahra.com/ , info@ahraonline.org) Contact the AHRA for a career information brochure. The web site has job openings by region, a directory of radiology consultants and a List Server for networking. Free sample issue of Link newsletter has job ads.

American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), 1255 Northland Drive, Saint Paul, MN 55120-1155; 651/687-0048. (http://www.arrt.org/) The web site has a section for radiologist assistants with career and certification information, and a directory of educational programs for radiography, nuclear medicine technology, radiation therapy, and sonography.


Hot Radiology Jobs - (http://www.hotradiologyjobs.com/) Job listings for administrators and technologists sorted by specialty. Post your résumé. Search jobs then click on link to employers’ URLs.


Resume Writing Service -  Professionally package your health care resume for entry level, standard, and executive positions.


Scholarships & Tuition Assistance


Other Occupations

The following health technologist occupations are featured in the all new 4th edition of Health Care Job Explosion!. Each of the following occupations are featured exactly like the clinical laboratory technologists and technicians occupational description on this page and includes resources for each listing. Your local library may have this book in their reference section or you can purchase a copy for $19.95 plus $5.75 shipping with all major credit cards from our toll free service at 1-800-782-7424 (Orders Only).

  • Cardiovascular Technologists & Technicians
  • Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
  • Nuclear Medicine Technologists
  • Surgical Technologists