Best Radiology Schools in AlabamaNumerous Alabama schools offer a radiology degree program, including certificate, associate’s degree, and bachelor’s degree programs. However, it is best to seek education from accredited radiologic technology schools. The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) is a recognized accreditation agency for traditional and distance learning programs in radiography, radiation therapy, magnetic resonance, and medical dosimetry. JRCERT measures a program’s effectiveness through its exam completion rate, pass rate, and job placement rate. The program completion rate pertains to the number of students who accomplished the program within 150% of the stated program duration(1). The exam pass rate measures the number of students who pass the National Registry Examination (NRE) on their first try(2). The NRE is managed by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). The job placement rate compares the number of students currently employed in the discipline versus the number of students actively seeking employment(3). JRCERT releases the results of each school’s program effectiveness annually, and all figures below are derived from data provided by the said agency at www.jrcert.org.
|Colleges||Program Name||Degree Level||Duration||Program Effectiveness(4)*||Tuition and Fees per Year(5)**|
|Program Completion Rate||Exam Pass Rate||Job Placement Rate|
|Crestwood Medical Center in Huntsville||Radiography||Certificate||24 months||80%||87%||100%||$2,500|
|DCH Medical Center in Tuscaloosa||Radiography||Associate of Applied Science||24 months||82%||99%||99%||$5,200|
|Gadsden State Community College in Gadsden||Radiography||Associate of Applied Science||21 months||82%||93%||98%||Resident: $5,888 Non-Resident: $10,902|
|George C. Wallace Community College in Dothan||Radiography||Associate of Applied Science||21 months||48.30%||77%||100%||Resident: $5,005 Non-Resident: $9,278.50|
|Huntsville Hospital in Huntsville||Radiography||Associate of Occupational Technology||24 months||100%||97%||100%||$2,200.00|
|Jefferson State Community College in Birmingham||Radiography||Associate of Applied Science||21 months||79%||93%||100%||Resident: $10,650 Non-Resident: $18,975|
|Southern Union State Community College in Opelika||Radiography||Associate of Applied Science||21 months||66%||87%||92%||Resident: $5,150 Non-Resident: $12,236|
|University of South Alabama in Mobile||Radiation Therapy||Certificate (Post-Baccalaureate) Bachelor of Science||12 months||85.70%||96%||100%||Resident: $12,936 Non-Resident: $25,872|
|University of South Alabama in Mobile||Radiography||Bachelor of Science||24 months||80%||87.60%||94.60%||Resident: $10,336 Non-Resident: $22,000|
|C. Wallace State Community College–Hanceville||Radiography||Associate of Applied Science||17 months||100%||99%||96%||Resident: $3,616 Non-Resident: $14,560|
*Data retrieved on Sept. 3, 2020. Changes may occur when new information comes in.
**Data retrieved on Sept. 3, 2020. Changes may occur when new information comes in.
Crestwood Medical CenterThe Crestwood Medical Center (CMC) School of Radiology provides a radiologic technology certificate program that requires 40 hours of combined didactic and clinical rotation training. The medical center and the CMC Outpatient Imaging Center serve as the student’s primary clinical sites. The Orthopedic Center (TOC) is also an accredited site.
DCH Regional Medical CenterThe DCH Regional Medical Center (DCH-RMC) offers an Associate in Applied Science degree in radiologic technology. The program equips students with a working knowledge of radiology and expects them to produce high-quality digital and computed radiographic images to diagnose patients’ medical conditions accurately. However, the program does not admit transfer students from other radiography schools.
Gadsden State Community CollegeThe Gadsden State Community College (GSCC) requires prospective students to submit a copy of their American College Testing (ACT) results and grades from their general education (GED) coursework. The minimum general point average (GPA) for required rad tech general education courses is 2.5. Prospective students must also pass a criminal background check and drug test upon admission. Aspiring graduates from the GSCC must complete 76 credit hours of academic coursework to be eligible for an associate in applied science degree in radiologic technology. Afterward, students may take the national licensure exam and become a licensed radiographer.
Wallace Community College/George C. Wallace Community CollegeThe Wallace Community College (WCC), formally known as the George C. Wallace Community College, offers a radiologic technology program designed to train future radiology technologists to process and produce medical diagnostic images through various imaging systems. The college combines didactic and clinical training settings to better prepare students for the real-life challenges of being radiologic technologists. Clinical training begins during the students’ first semester, in which students must go to different accredited clinical sites to gain firsthand medical imaging experience. All academic requirements must be accomplished by the students’ third year for an undergraduate to qualify for graduation.
Huntsville HospitalHuntsville Hospital pursues excellence in the radiologic technology field by providing students with a structured yet diverse and dynamic didactic and clinical experience. Students applying for the program must have accomplished at least 20 hours of post-secondary GED prerequisites and pass the Health Occupation Aptitude Examination (HOAE). Applicants should also submit a radiology course essay and official copies of all previous transcripts.
Jefferson State Community CollegeAccording to Jefferson State Community College’s (JSCC) website, the college’s radiologic technology program is one of the pioneers among Alabama two-year colleges. Since then, the college has produced numerous radiologic technologists for the Alabama healthcare community. JSCC offers a full-time, 40-hour per week program, which combines in-person classroom activities and some online classes. Students may participate in courseworks through a computer or a similar device.
Southern Union State Community CollegeSouthern Union State Community College’s (SUCC) radiology program trains students to become productive and highly reliable Alabama healthcare community members. The program combines in-classroom coursework and clinical rotations to prepare students for the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists‘ (ARRT) National Registry Exam or NRE. SUCC also offers 26-credit hour certification programs on computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These programs are designed for professional, licensed radiologic technologists who want to pursue further education.
University of South AlabamaThe University of South Alabama is currently the only JRCERT-accredited university in Alabama that offers a bachelor’s degree in radiologic sciences and radiation therapy. The university combines didactic, clinical, and laboratory training for its students. Aside from accredited clinical sites, the University of South Alabama has five laboratories equipped with traditional X-ray equipment, phantoms, and imaging accessories. One of the five laboratories offers students an opportunity to practice radiographic image manipulation. Graduate students and professional radiologic technologists may take advantage of the university’s post-baccalaureate certificate program on ultrasound and other modalities. The university offers a total of six financial aid programs. Interested students may contact the school for more information.
Wallace State Community CollegeThe Wallace State Community College (WSCC) provides future radiographers with vital education on the basics of radiologic science fields, such as anatomy and physiology, physics, equipment protocols, safety procedures, and patient care courses. Students must also undergo clinical training starting from their first semester. The first two semesters only include day shifts, then students are eventually assigned to night shifts beginning their third semester.
Radiology Program vs Radiography ProgramRadiology and radiography are distinct yet interconnected academic programs, with radiographers and radiologists working together in providing patients with accurate medical diagnoses. Radiologic technology programs focus on training professionals in producing radiographic and digital images, using various diagnostic imaging technologies. This degree program may take two to four years to accomplish. Radiology programs are for medical doctors (MD) looking to specialize in diagnosing and treating medical illnesses through radiation and related modalities. The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) offers a medical radiology program through its school of medicine. Radiologists may specialize in diagnostic or interventional radiology and spend around 15 years in academic and clinical training.
AccreditationIn seeking higher education, it is best to avoid “diploma mills” or institutions that grant numerous educational degrees despite inferior education practices and standards(6). Instead, it is best to seek education from certified colleges that follow a standardized radiography curriculum. Three prominent organizations grant accreditation to colleges all over the country are:
- Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT)
- Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
- Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology (JRCNMT)
Career Opportunities and SalaryRadiologic technologists, also known as radiology technicians or X-ray technologists, often hold job titles such as X-ray technicians. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected a positive job outlook for radiologic and MRI technologists with a promising 7% rate from 2019 to 2029(8). The BLS attributes this agile growth to the country’s fast-aging population, which may inevitably increase the number of individuals with chronic illness. These individuals are likely to rely on imaging technology to diagnose diseases. The American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) reported that the 2019 average annual salary for radiologic technologists across the United States is $69,266(9). The average radiology tech income in the state of Alabama is $54,122 across all disciplines – the lowest mean annual salary among all states(10). Income also varies depending on a technologist’s position. According to ASRT’s report, an entry-level technologist may receive $51,763 annually(11). Technologists and technicians in senior positions may expect a significantly higher income. A full-time senior technologist’s average salary is $75,361, while a manager or supervisor may earn around $85,539(12). Educational attainment also plays a role in radiologic technologists’ salary. Based on ASRT’s 2019 report, individuals with an associate degree receive annual compensation of $65,207, while those with a bachelor’s degree earn $71,432(13). Meanwhile, technologists who pursue a master’s degree have an annual income of $84,981(14). ASRT computes the average hourly salary rate for radiologic technologists by dividing the annual compensation by the average number of hours worked per year. According to ASRT, the annual average number of hours rendered for radiologic technologists is 2,080. Dividing technologists’ annual average income of $69,266 by 2,080 makes their average hourly wage at $33.30(15). An estimated 87.5% of technologists work full-time while 12.5% work part-time(16). Other radiologic technology fields covered in the report include magnetic resonance (MR), sonography, computed tomography (CT), and mammography. The BLS reported that more than 50% of the country’s radiologic technicians work in hospitals. The other half work in different healthcare facilities, such as imaging centers, medical centers, mobile clinic units, private clinics, or corporate settings(17).
ConclusionRadiologic technology programs may last from 15 to 24 months. Graduates may then apply for a radiography license from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). After accomplishing an associate’s degree, a radiologic technologist may apply for a bachelor’s degree or certification on one or more radiologic modalities. However, it is best to seek a degree from an accredited educational institution to ensure quality radiography education. One can refer to different accreditation organizations, such as JRCERT, CAAHEP, or JRCNMT, for a list of accredited schools in one’s area.
- “Program Effectiveness Data.” Joint Review on Education in Radiologic Technology. Accessed September 3, 2020. https://www.jrcert.org/resources/program-effectiveness-data/.
- “Accredited Educational Programs.” Program Effectiveness Data. Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology. Accessed September 3, 2020. https://portal.jrcertaccreditation.org/accredited-educational-programs/search.
- “Degree Mills: An Old Problem and a New Threat.” Joint Review on Education in Radiologic Technology. Accessed September 03, 2020. https://www.jrcert.org/news/degree-mills/.
- Esmet. “Commission on Accreditation.” CAAHEP. Accessed September 3, 2020. https://www.caahep.org/Students/Find-a-Program.aspx.
- “Radiologic and MRI Technologists : Occupational Outlook Handbook.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Accessed September 3, 2020. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/radiologic-technologists.htm.
- “Radiologic Technologist Wage and Salary Survey 2019.” American Society of Radiologic Technologists, 2019. Accessed September 3, 2020. http://members.issrt.org/resources/SiteUploads/20190808/radiologic-technologist-wage-and-salary-survey-2019.pdf.