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Radiologic Technology Career

Career Description

A Radiologic Technologist takes x rays and administers non-radioactive materials into patients’ bloodstreams for diagnostic purposes.

Common Work Tasks

  • Produce x-ray films (radiographs) of parts of the human body for use in diagnosing medical problems
  • Prepare patients for radiologic examinations by explaining the procedure, removing jewelry and other articles through which x rays cannot pass, and positioning patients so that the parts of the body can be appropriately radiographed
  • Surround the exposed area with radiation protection devices, such as lead shields, or limit the size of the x-ray beam
  • Position radiographic equipment at the correct angle and height over the appropriate area of a patient’s body
  • 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
  • Follow physicians’ orders precisely and conform to regulations concerning the use of radiation to protect themselves, their patients, and their coworkers from unnecessary exposure
  • Keep patient records and adjust and maintain equipment
  • Prepare work schedules, evaluate purchases of equipment, or manage a radiology department
  • Place the x-ray film under the part of the patient’s body to be examined and make the exposure
  • Remove the film and develop it

Other Job Titles

Radiologic Technologists are also known by other titles,  including:

  • Radiographers
  • CT Technologists
  • Mammographers
  • MR Technologists

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
Formal training programs in radiography range in length from 1 to 4 years and lead to a certificate, an associate degree, or a bachelor’s degree. Two-year associate degree programs are most prevalent.

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. A bachelor’s or master’s degree in one of the radiologic technologies is desirable for supervisory, administrative, or teaching positions.

Certification and Licensure
Federal legislation protects the public from the hazards of unnecessary 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 licensing individuals who engage in medical or dental radiography. In 2007,  40 states required licensure for practicing radiologic technologists and technicians.

  Radiologic technologists 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.


The median annual salary for a Radiologic Technologist is $50,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $72,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $34,000.  Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of radiologic technologists are:

  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals - $51,730
  • Offices of Physicians- $48,450
  • Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories - $54,300
  • Outpatient Care Centers - $48,730
  • Federal Executive Branch  - $51,960

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  15%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 30,000
  • Employment 2006 : 196,000
  • Employment 2016:  226,000
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