How to Become an X-Ray Technician

X-Ray technicians are in high demand. If you’re interested in a career in the medical field, read this guide to learn how to become an X-Ray Technician.

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Introduction

An X-ray technician is a health care professional who is responsible for performing diagnostic imaging procedures, such as X-rays, on patients. X-ray technicians usually work in hospitals or other healthcare facilities. Some may also work in private medical practices.

Becoming an X-ray technician typically requires completing an accredited radiography program and obtaining a state license. Some states require national certification in addition to licensure. Read on to learn more about how to become an X-ray technician.

What is an X-Ray Technician?

An X-ray technician, also known as a radiologic technologist, is a health care professional who uses imaging technology to produce diagnostic images. X-ray techs work in hospitals, clinics and private practices and are responsible for taking x-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.

Becoming an X-ray technician requires completing an accredited training program and passing a national certification exam. X-ray techs must be licensed in most states.

Duties of an X-Ray Technician

X-ray technicians, also called medical radiographers, take X-rays and computed tomography (CT) scans, which are important diagnostic tools. They must follow the orders of physicians or other health practitioners and maintain a high level of patient care and safety.

Most X-ray technicians work full time. They may work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, or diagnostic imaging centers. Some technicians work evenings or weekends to accommodate their patients’ schedules.

Here are some of the duties of an X-ray technician:

• Prepare patients for procedures by explaining what will happen and answering their questions

• Position patients on operating tables or exam chairs and adjust immobilization devices to obtain desired images

• Select the correct technical factors to produce high quality images

• Operate X-ray equipment to take pictures of structures inside the body

• Develop radiographs (X-rays) using darkroom techniques or computer processing

• Monitor patients during procedures to ensure they remain calm and still

Education and Training

In order to become an X-ray technician, you will need to complete an accredited training program. These programs are typically completed at a community college or technical school and take between one and two years to finish. During your training, you will take classroom and laboratory courses in anatomy, physiology, algebra, and physics. You will also complete a clinical internship, during which you will gain hands-on experience working with patients. Upon completion of your program, you will be eligible to take the national certification exam.

Employment Outlook

The employment outlook for X-Ray Technicians is excellent. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that there will be a 13% increase in jobs for X-Ray Techs between 2016 and 2026, which is much faster than average. This comes out to about 22,600 new jobs being created during that time period. The majority of new jobs will be in hospitals, but there will also be openings in diagnostic imaging centers, physician offices, and mobile imaging units.

Salary

The average salary for an X-Ray Technician is $28.24 per hour.

Certification

There are no certification or licensing requirements to become an X-ray technician in most states; however, most employers prefer to hire technicians who have completed a formal training program and obtained certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). In order to take the ARRT national certification exam, candidates must first complete an accredited educational program and then submit proof of political activity and a criminal background check. Once certified, radiologic technologists must complete 24 hours of continuing education credits every two years in order to maintain their certification.

Advancement Opportunities

As an X-ray technician, you may find opportunities to move into management or education. With experience, you may move into positions such as lead X-ray technician, imaging supervisor, or radiographer manager. Some technicians become instructors in radiography programs.

If you are interested in management or teaching, you will need to complete a bachelor’s degree in radiologic technology or a related field. Some states require licensure for managers of radiologic technology programs. In addition, most community colleges and technical schools require continuing education credits to maintain certification and licensure.

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