- The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification helps individuals stand out as job candidates and recognizes them as having the qualifications to take on a radiographer role(1).
- To become ARRT-certified radiologic technologists, individuals must identify the pathway and discipline in which they need to earn a credential and meet the organization’s education, ethics, and examination requirements(2).
- Candidates pursue a radiology certification to earn the opportunity to have a better chance of finding a job, getting a license, or preparing for further study(3).
What Is ARRT Certification and Registration?
The purpose of the ARRT registration and certification is to acknowledge individuals qualified to perform the roles and responsibilities of a radiographer and allow these individuals to grow professionally as registered technologists (RT)(4).
To be certified and registered by the ARRT, an individual must satisfy certain professional standards in medical imaging, radiation therapy, or interventional procedures.
An ARRT credential allows individuals to show employers, state licensing authorities, and federal regulators that the certificate holder has met rigorous professional standards.
As of 2022, more than 330,000 radiologic technologists hold ARRT credentials(5). Individuals who apply, take the test, and qualify for an ARRT certification and registration are given the opportunity to join the ranks of these professionals.
For individuals to earn an ARRT certification and registration, they need to meet the organization’s three requirements: education, ethics, and examination(6).
Before starting the certification process, the individual must identify the eligibility pathway they will need to take and the discipline in which they need to earn the credential.
Taking a primary pathway is how most radiologic technologists earn their initial ARRT credentials. This pathway includes completing an ARRT-approved educational program.
Some of the disciplines an individual can take to earn primary pathway credentials include radiography, nuclear medicine technology, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and sonography(7).
Some individuals who are currently certified and registered with ARRT may consider pursuing an additional credential through a postprimary pathway.
Individuals holding credentials from the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) or the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB) may also pursue a postprimary pathway.
ARRT’s education requirement provides the knowledge and experience an individual needs to become a registered technologist.
The individual must earn an associate’s degree and complete an ARRT-approved educational program to meet this requirement.
Individuals seeking ARRT certification and registration must earn at least an associate’s degree or higher to become eligible. The degree must come from a school accredited by an ARRT-approved agency.
These accrediting bodies include the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT), Higher Learning Commission, and Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools(8).
When choosing a school and program for radiography, one essential consideration is the accreditation, which serves as a “seal of approval” granted by the accrediting authority for that curriculum.
JRCERT performs the accreditation for the training and educational programs for radiography.
For additional information on JRCERT-accredited schools and programs or the organization’s accrediting requirements, individuals may visit their website at www.jrcert.org.
Candidates for certification who completed professional education on or before January 1, 2015 will only need to complete an academic degree to satisfy ARRT’s educational requirement(9).
The associate’s degree does not have to be in the radiologic sciences strictly. Candidates can earn this degree before or after graduating from a radiologic sciences education program.
However, the candidate must receive the degree before taking the ARRT examination.
ARRT encourages all registered technologists to put the patient at the heart of their profession.
This idea aims to protect and prioritize the patient’s safety and best interests, and lets the patient and their family know that these medical professionals are responsible, qualified, and trustworthy.
Thus, ARRT emphasizes the importance of ethics in the certification and registration process.
The ARRT Standards of Ethics is one of the organization’s governing documents that describes the behavior expected of radiologic technologists and the actions the organization will not tolerate.
The document includes ethics rules, which are mandatory rules the organization enforces, and a code of ethics, a set of guidelines radiologic technologists should follow.
Candidates for the certification must answer ethics-related questions on the application form.
One of these questions is whether the candidate has been charged or convicted of felony or misdemeanor, such as court convictions or military court-martial.
The candidate should answer “yes” if they have:
- Convictions or charges, including ones that were stayed, set aside, deferred, or suspended
- Guilty or no contest plea
- Court conditions on a charge, such as probation or court supervision
- Traffic violations involving alcohol or drugs
- Traffic violations charged as felonies or misdemeanors
On the other hand, the candidate should answer “no” if they have no offense or if they have:
- Convictions or offenses processed in juvenile court before turning 18
- Speeding or parking tickets that do not involve alcohol, drugs, felonies, or misdemeanors
- Charges dismissed without required court conditions
- Sealed or expunged court records
- Offenses reported to the ARRT that it had already communicated to the candidate
The ARRT Standards of Ethics defines the following ethical violations(10):
- Fraud or deceptive practices
- Unprofessional conduct
- Scope-of-practice violations
- Improper management of patient records
- Being unfit to practice
- Violation of regulatory rules, state laws, or federal laws
- Failure to report violations or errors
Another ethics-related question is whether a certification board or regulatory authority has denied, revoked, or suspended the individual’s license, permit, certification, or registration.
This question includes whether that authority placed the candidate on probation, allowed voluntary surrender of the candidate’s license, permit, registration, or certification, or subjected the candidate to disciplinary actions.
The candidate should answer “yes” if any of these conditions apply to them or if the authority imposing the action was not the ARRT.
Candidates with no offenses relative to this question should answer “no.” Additionally, individuals whose only offense is an ARRT continuing education (CE) probation or who had previously reported offenses to the ARRT that the organization had communicated to them should also answer “no.”
Finally, the application form will also ask whether the candidate has been dismissed, suspended, or expelled from an educational program required for ARRT certification and registration.
The candidate should answer “no” if they have no offenses relative to this question or if such offenses were already reported and the ARRT had sent a communication to the candidate. Otherwise, the candidate should answer “yes.”
Regardless of the candidate’s answer, they are required to do the following:
- Agree to a written consent as required by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), allowing ARRT to:
- Communicate freely with the candidate’s educational program director
- Obtain parts of the candidate’s educational records to verify whether they had suspension, dismissal, or expulsion records from an education program required for ARRT certification
- Waive to an extent the confidentiality of the candidate’s educational records under FERPA
- Consent to release any and all education records relating to the candidate’s suspension, dismissal, or expulsion to ARRT as part of the certification and registration application review
- Agree to immediately accomplish any additional written consents under FERPA if the candidate’s educational program has different requirements
Individuals who are unsure whether a possible violation is relevant to the application can contact ARRT’s ethics requirements department at 651-687-0048 or visit ARRT’s official website.
As the examination day approaches, candidates should prepare beforehand to gain the needed confidence. Preparations include performing the following:
- Understanding the exam format
- Knowing the number of questions and time allotted for the exam
- Reviewing the exam’s content specific to the candidate’s discipline
- Making accommodation arrangements in advance, especially regarding Americans With Disabilities (ADA) accommodations, if needed
The test duration depends on the examinee’s specific discipline in which they are attempting to get an ARRT certification from and corresponds to the number of scored questions and non-scored items.
Before the exam, the test center gives the candidates additional time to complete the tutorial and nondisclosure agreement (NDA).
On the exam day, examinees as expected to adhere to the following actions(11):
- Examinees should arrive at the test venue at least 30 minutes before their scheduled appointment.
- Upon arrival, examinees should check-in by showing two identification forms (IDs), providing a digital signature, being photographed, and having palms scanned for authentication.
The examinee’s IDs should match the ARRT records.
- Examinees should adhere to exam security by not bringing personal belongings into the exam room.
These items include calculators, study guides, cellphones, pocket contents, and other electronic gadgets and personal items.
- Examinees needing ADA accommodations should submit a request during the application for certification and registration, not upon arrival at the test center.
Additionally, the ARRT has to approve such a request before the test center can grant the accommodation to the examinee.
- Temperatures inside the test center can vary, and candidates should dress accordingly.
However, the test center prohibits examinees from bringing outerwear such as hooded sweatshirts or jackets.
Additionally, examinees may hear noises in the test center, such as coughing, typing, or individuals entering and leaving the room. Examinees who get distracted by these noises may request noise-canceling headphones or earplugs.
- Examinees have two minutes to respond to the NDA. Failure to do so within the allotted time will cause the examinee to forfeit the exam.
- The exam is computer-based, and most questions are in multiple-choice format.
- Examinees can flag difficult questions and guess an answer before moving to the next question. If there is time remaining after completing the exam, the examinee can review these questions.
- Examinees are prohibited from standing or leaving the room unless the test center staff authorizes them.
If the examinee does not return within 10 minutes, the staff will file an incident report.
- After completing the exam, examinees will receive a preliminary score. However, this is not the final score.
ARRT will mail the final exam results three weeks from the exam date.
Programs, Application, and Tuition Details
Various educational institutions, especially ones connected to hospitals with radiographic or medical imaging services, may provide radiography or radiologic technology programs.
For example, in the Kaiser Permanente School of Allied Health Sciences’ (KPSAHS) 2022 academic catalog, radiologic technology is listed as a bachelor of science program(12).
According to the catalog, the radiologic technology program provides students with clinical and didactic (moral instruction) learning experiences to enable them to become entry-level radiologic technologists in the workforce.
To enroll in the program, an individual must satisfy the following academic requirements:
- Must have an arts or science associate’s degree (or higher) in any discipline.
- Earned a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 3.0 or higher from all higher education institutions attended, regardless of degree.
- Successfully completed college coursework and received a grade of “C” or higher in the following subjects:
- College algebra or higher mathematics
- Introduction to computers
- Oral communication
- Written communication
- Human anatomy and physiology (with lab)
Program graduates should demonstrate their capacity to accomplish tasks expected of their role as radiologic technologists, such as:
- Positioning patients accurately
- Applying proper radiation protection practices
- Performing non-routine procedures
- Evaluating and analyzing radiographs
- Demonstrating effective oral and written skills
Successful completion of all major courses allows the graduate to participate in the California state licensing and American Registry of Radiologic Technologists or the ARRT certification examinations.
The KPSAHS program has a day track and weekend or evening track scheduling and requires 24 months of study within eight academic quarters for day-enrolled students (or 27 months for weekend or evening track students).
Students will perform their clinical education in partner hospitals and medical offices across Northern California.
Regarding tuition fees, the KPSAHS 2022 academic catalog provides the following schedule breakdown for the bachelor’s degree in radiologic technology program(13):
|Application and registration||$340|
|Spring – Quarter 1||18.5||$3,865|
|Summer – Quarter 2||14.5||$3,725|
|Fall – Quarter 3||16||$3,725|
|Winter – Quarter 4||18.5||$3,725|
|Spring – Quarter 5||18||$3,725|
|Summer – Quarter 6||20||$3,725|
|Fall – Quarter 7||22||$3,725|
|Winter – Quarter 8||18.5||$3,950|
|Total charges to KPSAHS||146||$30,505|
|Costs paid to other vendors (books, scrubs)||$2,650|
Certain fees such as application fees, insurance fees, educational materials and access fees, and matriculation fees are non-refundable. However, tuition may be refunded on a pro rata basis.
Benefits of Certification
Many employers require their radiology technologists to hold an ARRT certification and registration. Even when doing so is not always a job prerequisite, having such credentials can show employers of the individual’s commitment to providing high-quality patient care.
Certification can provide an opportunity for the individual to gain more knowledge, skills, and confidence.
There are three primary advantages individuals often pursue a radiology certification(14):
- Getting a job: The market for radiologic technologists can get competitive, and employers will look for candidates with the qualifications to operate a radiologic machine at the minimum.
A certificate can demonstrate to potential employers that the applicant has the necessary knowledge and skills to work in an imaging job safely and efficiently.
- Acquiring a license: A certificate can show the state that the applicant has the potential to qualify for state licensure or certification. Some states require radiologic technologists to have a license to work in that state.
Although each state issues its own guidelines for radiologic technology licensure, many of these states adopt the ARRT’s educational guidelines and exams.
- Preparing for further study: Some individuals consider a certificate program a stepping stone for continuing education and pursuing advanced degrees.
For example, an individual who initially did not pursue a radiologic technology degree may consider getting an X-ray technology certificate first.
That individual may start working as an X-ray technologist before pursuing an associate’s degree in radiologic technology.
Some radiologic technology or radiography programs will accept transfer credits from a certificate, provided the individual completed it from an accredited school.
Licensing, Certification, and Permits
In California, ARRT administers the following radiologic licenses, permits, and certificates(15):
Radiologic Technology Certificates and Permits
- Radiologic technology certificate
- Radiation therapy
- Mammographic radiologic technology certificate
- Radiologic technologist fluoroscopy permit
California Limited Permit X-ray Technician
- Radiation protection (core) permit
- Dental laboratory radiography permit
- Skull radiography permit
- Torso-skeletal radiography permit
- Chest radiography permit
- Extremities radiography permit
- Leg-podiatric radiography permit
- Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) permit
- Physician assistant fluoroscopy permit
- Supervisor and operator permits
Types of Certificates
Applicants interested in entering the radiologic technology field should consider earning a certificate in radiologic technology or radiography.
Meanwhile, individuals who are already working in this field and is looking for an opportunity to improve their skills and qualifications may also consider taking this path.
There are two types of radiologic technology certificates:
- Primary pathway certificates: These certificates are programs that lead to a first-time license to practice in the radiologic technology field.
An associate’s degree is typically a minimum requirement to work as a radiologic technologist.
However, some states may only require a certificate program for radiologic technologists to be licensed or certified.
A survey conducted by the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) showed that 18.8% of radiologic technology professionals held a certificate as their highest education level(16).
- Postprimary pathway certificates: Individuals who have earned an initial certification or associate’s degree may add a specialization or modality to their qualifications by completing another certification or a degree.
The ARRT refers to this secondary certificate as a postprimary pathway.
For example, licensed radiographers may want to add another credential for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The MRI certification is considered a postprimary pathway.
An ASRT survey stated that only 39.7% of radiologic technologists have a secondary discipline in their current positions(17).
The survey also indicated that some of the popular disciplines taken up as secondary pathways include radiography (33%), computed tomography (24%), bone densitometry (15.3%), and mammography (10.1%).
An individual’s postprimary pathway may depend on their initial or primary certification or degree.
ARRT supports 15 credentials or competencies that individuals may acquire through the primary or postprimary pathways. Although these disciplines have the same ethics and certification exam requirements, these pathways differ in their education requirements.
Individuals have the option to pursue the following credentials(18):
- Radiography (R)
- Radiation therapy (RT)
- Registered radiologist assistant (R.R.A.)
- Mammography (M)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Bone densitometry (BD)
- Breast sonography (BS)
- Cardiac interventional radiography (CI)
- Cardiovascular interventional radiography (CV)
- Computed tomography (CT)
- Nuclear medicine technology (N)
- Quality management (QM)
- Sonography (S)
- Vascular interventional radiography (VI)
- Vascular sonography (VS)
As of 2022, ARRT no longer issues new credentials for QM and CVI. However, individuals who already hold these credentials can maintain them indefinitely.
Still, these individuals must continue to meet ARRT’s ethical standards and other requirements to maintain these credentials.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, radiologic technologists and technicians held around 212,100 jobs in 2020(19). Among the employers of these professions, the largest ones were as follows:
- State, local, and private hospitals: 60%
- Physician offices: 19%
- Outpatient care centers: 7%
- Medical and diagnostic laboratories: 7%
- The federal government, excluding postal service: 3%
MRI and radiologic technologists are usually expected to be on their feet for extended periods. They may also need to turn or lift patients, especially those injured and with movement difficulties.
Thus, individuals in these professions may be exposed to injuries or illnesses. Radiologic technologists should also wear badges that measure radiation levels and protective gear like gloves and lead aprons to maintain radiation safety and minimize exposure.
In most work environments, radiologic and MRI technologists are expected to work full time. There are situations when imaging is needed urgently, such as in emergencies.
Thus, these types of personnel can be required to work in the evening, during weekends, or even overnight.
1. How much does a radiologic technologist typically make?
As of May 2021, the mean hourly wage for radiologic technologists and technicians is $31.97, and the mean annual wage is $66,490(20).
The general medical and surgical hospitals industry has the highest number of radiologic technologists and technicians, with around 127,100 employed. Their mean annual wage in this industry is $67,410.
Other industries employing these jobs, together with the number employed and the mean annual wage, are as follows:
- Physician offices: 42,300 ($59,310)
- Medical and diagnostic laboratories: 15,660 ($66,370)
- Outpatient care centers: 15,260 ($77,580)
- Federal executive branch: 5,930 ($73,990)
There is no official data on the wage difference between certified and non-certified radiologic technologists and technicians.
However, the ARRT mentions that some states require individuals to be ARRT-certified before obtaining a state license to work as radiologic technologists(21).
Additionally, wages may vary among employers and states.
2. How long does it take for a radiology technician to get a certification?
A radiology technician must undergo a radiologic technology program and take an ARRT certification exam to become certified.
For example, KPSAHS’s bachelor’s degree in radiologic technology takes two years to complete.
Radiology technicians typically work with radiologists to help prepare patients and equipment for radiology procedures such as CT, MRI, or X-ray scans(22).
Radiologists are medical doctors who use radiology or medical imaging tools to diagnose and treat patients.
Similarly, radiologic technologists assist physicians in diagnosing illnesses and injuries through radiology procedures, including mammography(23).
These similarities suggest that radiology technicians may have the same certification opportunities as radiologic technologists.
3. Can individuals acquire a radiologic technology certificate online?
Most radiologic technology programs require students to complete an internship or clinical placement provided by the school.
Additionally, many of these schools only offer on-campus or hybrid certificate programs. Thus, only a few educational institutions may offer fully online certificate courses.
However, there may be online specialization certificates available for radiologic technologists who are already licensed.
Individuals may inquire about the availability of online certification with the ARRT or any higher education institution offering radiologic technology programs.
- What Is ARRT Certification & Registration
- Radiologic Technology Certificate
- What Is ARRT Certification & Registration
- Primary Eligibility Requirements
- ARRT-Recognized Accreditation Agencies
- Types of Ethics Violations
- What to Expect on Exam Day
- 2022 Academic Catalog
- Radiologic Technology Certificate
- California Radiologic Licenses, Certificates, and Permits
- Radiologic Technologist Wage and Salary Survey 2016
- Credential Options
- Radiologic and MRI Technologists
- Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2021: 29-2034 Radiologic Technologists and Technicians
- State Licensing
- Radiology Technician Job Description
- Radiologic Technologist Job Description