Students of radiologic technology learn to create images of the inside
of the body.
X-rays are used to make the images. This allows medical professionals to
study body systems -- to help diagnose and treat patients.
For many, the cutting-edge technology is truly the best part of the field.
"We can see a fetus's face before it is even born. That is truly amazing,"
says Donna Shehane. She is the chair of the department of imaging sciences
at South College in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Besides taking the X-rays, radiologic technologists prepare patients for
radiologic examinations, position them correctly and operate the equipment.
They also develop the X-ray film. Most technologists work in hospitals, though
some work in doctors' offices and diagnostic imaging centers.
"The radiologic technology field is a nice mixture of human interactions
and use of high tech equipment," says Irene Chaudhary. She is the program
coordinator for a medical radiologic technology program. "The program curriculum
covers a wide range of topics -- from people skills to application in science
and technology. Classroom theory is reinforced through labs conducted at the
college and clinical experiences in hospital settings."
Students of radiologic technology can expect to study examination techniques,
patient care and positioning, physics, biology, anatomy and physiology. Students
also study pathology (the study of the origin, nature and course of diseases),
and tomography (techniques for making X-rays of selected areas of the body).
Learning equipment protocols and radiation safety are also important.
Through the program, students get a mix of theory classes and on-the-job
training. Clinical education usually makes up about half of a two-year program.
Many colleges and hospitals partner with universities. In these programs,
students complete two years of university courses, and two years at the college
or hospital training facility.
In the U.S., students can earn two-year certificates, two-year associate
degrees or four-year bachelor's degrees in radiologic technology. There are
also postgraduate certificates and master's degrees. The Joint Review Committee
on Education in Radiologic Technology accredited over 600 radiography programs
A state license gives a person permission to practice radiologic technology.
Licensing laws differ from state to state. In 2007, 40 states required licensing
in this field. That's according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And 35
states use American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) exams for
Also, many employers want their technologists to be certified. To become
certified, you must complete at least two years in an accredited program,
and write an exam. Also, because the technology changes so quickly, continuing
education is required to stay certified.
Shehane recommends high school students take courses in math, chemistry,
biology and physics. In fact, many of these courses are prerequisites for
radiologic technology programs.
Some non-academic requirements may also be necessary, such as CPR certification,
a criminal records check and immunizations. Check the specific requirements
carefully because they differ from school to school.
Occupational Outlook HandbookFor more information related to this field of study, see Radiologic
Technologists and Technicians
X-Ray for KidsLearn how X-rays work
How Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) WorksLearn about MRIs from the people at How Stuff Works
Want a quick overview of what this program is about? Check out Just the Facts for
a simple description.