Looking for a career field with a lot of employment opportunities? The health care industry is a rapidly growing field, with certain occupations gaining exponentially in their demand for more trained workers. Radiologic technicians can anticipate a much faster than average increase in their job outlook than other fields, with 28% more jobs opening up over the next decade (Bureau of Labor Statistics.)
Commonly referred to as an x-ray technician, a radiology technician is an individual who utilizes diagnostic imaging equipment to obtain radiologic scans and images of patients as instructed by a physician. In other words, an x-ray tech takes x-rays of specified portions of the patient’s body and provides them to the ordering physician as well as to the radiologist for diagnosis.
Radiology Technician Salary Expectations
Although there are a wide range of specialties in this field, the average salary earned by a radiology technician as of August, 2013, ranges between $26,000 – $37,000 annually. The city that pays the highest average salary for an x-ray technician is San Diego, California, according to jobs.aol.com. These are national averages in US dollars, and numbers can range from $30,000 for a medical x-ray assistant in an emergency clinic, to $93,000 annually for a radiology x-ray technician. We’ll list some of the various specialty opportunities for radiology technicians and the average salaries for these jobs.
Mammography Technician: $63,000
Certified Radiology X-Ray Technician: $93,000
Computer Tomography Technologist: $72,000
Metallurgical Technician: $42,000
Radiological Special Procedure Technician: $78,000
Cardiac Catheterization Radiologic Technician: $48,000
In addition to the respectable take-home pay you can earn as a radiology technician, the job also usually comes with a handsome compensation package that includes medical benefits, paid holidays and vacation time, as well as retirement benefits.
Training for a Career as a Radiology Technician
Learning to operate X-ray equipment takes one to two years of trade school radiology training, where you’ll learn about different types of x-ray machines and study how to position your patients in order to capture the clearest scan or image. You can earn an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science in Radiologic Technology from your local community college and qualify for a position as an x-ray technician in a hospital, diagnostic clinic or physician’s office. You can also train for specialized areas of x-ray technology and learn how to give mammograms, ultrasounds, CT scans, procedures under fluoroscopy, etc…
Keep going to school a little longer, take more intensive courses in anatomy, physics and biology for a Bachelor’s in Radiology and you can step a little higher on the hospital x-ray tech ladder and become a Licensed Radiology Technologist, and supervise your own team of x-ray techs. The wages get a boost too, with average salaries ranging from $37,000 – $52,000.
Of course, you can keep going with your education, take it to the top- go to medical school and become a radiologist. Be prepared for the long haul, because in order to become a radiologist, one must first earn your bachelor’s degree, then attend four years of medical school, then five years of post-graduate residency training. The first year of residency training is in the area of general medicine, while the remaining four years are focused on radiologic medicine. You also have to pass exams and become certified by the American Board of Radiology (or appropriate licensing board in your country of residence.)
After thirteen years of education and training, a Radiologist can typically earn an annual salary ranging between $42,000 to $197,000. Further enhance your earnings with additional education and training to specialize in areas such as diagnostic radiology, with a potential salary of $315,000 (jobs.aol.com.)
Further Tips for Advancement in Radiology Careers
The field of radiologic technology offers a broad range of opportunities depending on your level of ambition. You can be content with two years of school and a good job as an x-ray tech in your local hospital or diagnostic clinic. If you make good grades in school, you enjoy advanced sciences and have good management skills, you can take it further as a technologist, or specialize in your chosen field. And if you really enjoy going to school and you can obtain the funding, you can take it to the top as an MD radiologist.
Within the flexible field of radiology at each level, becoming a member of a professional organization is always beneficial for advancement, providing current industry trends as well as a network of clinical and educational connections. The more specialized your skills the more marketable you are as a candidate for promotion. Additionally, larger and more upscale organizations have more room for advancement and higher pay scales as well. Private clinics and major corporate medical organizations in metropolitan areas offer the best pay at all levels of radiologic technology.