Radiologic technologists and X-ray technicians are healthcare professionals who perform diagnostic imaging techniques to produce medical images to diagnose a patient’s illness.
X-ray technicians may be analogous to radiologic technologists. However, there are distinct characteristics that separate them from each other.
Radiologic technology is a broad medical term that covers individuals who work with different imaging technologies, such as sonography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scan, positron emission tomography (PET), and X-rays.
X-ray technicians are under the umbrella of radiologic technologists and may require a separate certification or accreditation process.
Radiologic technologists may pursue an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree, while aspiring X-ray technicians may complete a certificate program instead.
Upon acquiring a license, technologists and technicians may start applying for employment or pursue continuing education.
Technologists who completed advanced training may assist radiologists in more complex procedures, such as nuclear medicine, fluoroscopy, and radiation therapy.
Best Radiology Schools in Virginia
To ensure quality education programs, the United States Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation appointed an agency to oversee the traditional and distance learning programs in radiography, radiation therapy, magnetic resonance, and medical dosimetry.
This agency is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT).
The JRCERT measures a learning program’s effectiveness through its exam completion rate, pass rate, and job placement rate.
The program completion rate is the number of students who completed 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 or NRE on their first attempt(2).
The NRE is administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).
The job placement rate analyzes the number of students currently employed in radiography or other related disciplines against the number of students actively seeking employment(3).
The complete list of JRCERT accredited programs across the country is available at www.jrcert.org.
|Colleges||Program Name||Degree Level||Duration||Program Effectiveness(4)*||Tuition and Fees(5)**|
|Program Completion Rate||Exam Pass Rate||Job Placement Rate|
|Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond||Medical Imaging||Certificate||18 months||81.25%||89.3%||100%||$9,800|
|Central Virginia Community College in Lynchburg||Radiography||Associate of Applied Science||23 months||79%||94%||100%||Resident: $5,149Non-resident: $12,543.80|
|ECPI University in Newport News||Radiography||Associate of Applied Science||18 months||83%||84.60%||82%||$16,900|
|ECPI University - Northern Virginia in Manassas||Radiography||Associate of Applied Science||18 months||88%||91%||96%||$28,166|
|Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg||Radiologic Technology||Certificate||21 months||100%||94.44||100%||$5,000|
|Piedmont Virginia Community College in Charlottesville||Radiography||Associate of Applied Science||21 months||100%||96.20%||98.60%||Resident: $4,758Non-resident: $10,570|
|Riverside College of Health Careers in Newport News||Radiologic Technology||Associate of Applied Science||18 months||96.43%||95.79%||91.51%||$25,247|
|Sentara RMH Medical Center in Harrisonburg||Radiologic Technology||Certificate||21 months||100%||100%||100%||$4,500|
|Southside Medical Center or Bon Secours Petersburg, LLC in Colonial Heights||Radiation Sciences||Associate of Applied Science||20 months||94%||97%||95%||$5,500|
|Southwest Virginia Community College in Cedar Bluff||Radiography||Associate of Applied Science||22 months||65.20%||84.21%||100%||Resident: $4,734Non-resident: $11,739|
|SOVAH Health-Danville||Radiologic Technology||Associate of Applied Science||24 months||92%||86%||100%||$4,750|
|Tidewater Community College in Virginia Beach||Radiography||Associate of Applied Science||24 months||81.50%||97.40%||97.10%||Resident: $6,519.60 Non-resident: $13,633.20|
|Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond||Radiation Therapy||Bachelor of Science||33 months||100%||100%||98%||Resident: $11,967.23 Non-resident: $29,056.73|
|Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond||Radiography||Bachelor of Science||33 months||92%||97%||97%||Resident: $11,967.23 Non-resident: $29,056.73|
|Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke||Radiography||Associate of Applied Science||22 months||85.70%||89.40%||100%||Resident: $5,516.33Non-resident: $12,716.53|
|Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke||Radiation Therapy||Associate of Applied Science||22 months||90%||97%||91.20%||Resident: $11,372.58Non-resident: $24,544.78|
|Winchester Medical Center, Inc in Winchester||Medical Radiography||Certificate||24 months||90.90%||98.30%||100%||$6,000.00|
*Data retrieved on Sept. 4, 2020. Changes may occur when new information comes in.
**Data retrieved on Sept. 4, 2020. Changes may occur when new information comes in.
Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital
Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital School of Medical Imaging (SOMI) offers a full-time residential program that prepares students to be competent workforce members as entry-level diagnostic radiologic technologists or x-ray technicians.
The program is composed of both on-ground, in-school activities, including lectures and laboratory activities, and clinical training sessions. The school holds these sessions in JRCERT-approved healthcare facilities.
Central Virginia Community College
The Central Virginia Community College (CVCC) prepares its students to become qualified diagnostic imaging professionals.
The school emphasizes imparting technical skills, medical knowledge, patient care consideration, critical thinking, and appropriate work habits.
The two-year associate degree program is split into six semesters. Students must complete 30 to 40 hours of academic workload per week.
The East Coast Polytechnic Institute (ECPI) University aims to equip its students with the technical and intrapersonal skills required to become a successful radiologic technologist or x-ray technician.
All students must complete 76 credit hours to earn a degree. Online and on-campus learning formats are available.
Prospective students must have a General Education Diploma (GED) or a high school diploma with a grade point average (GPA) not lower than 2.5. Aspiring students must also pass CVCC’s admission test and interview.
The ECPI offers its radiography course in its Newport News and Northern Virginia branches.
Mary Washington Hospital
The Mary Washington Hospital (MWH) School of Radiologic Technology began in 1991 to provide the healthcare community with excellent diagnostic imaging services by producing highly skilled radiographers.
The MWH’s curriculum combines theoretical and practical coursework through classroom, laboratory, and clinical training settings.
The school also offers employment assistance after graduation by introducing them to available local job opportunities.
Piedmont Virginia Community College
Aside from its associate degree program on radiography, the Piedmont Virginia Community College also offers certifications on CT, diagnostic medical sonography, MRI, and mammography.
These certification programs may be taken by technologists who want to further their studies and specialize in one or more of the disciplines mentioned above.
Riverside College of Health Careers
In 2017, Forbes ranked the Riverside College of Health Careers among the top ten trade schools in the country, where it ranked seventh. It is the only school from Virginia to be ranked in the top 30.
Sentara RMH Medical Center
The Sentara RMH Medical Center positions itself as one of the most technologically advanced schools that offer health science courses.
It offers its students clinical training opportunities at local health facilities, including the Sentara RMH East Market Street Health Center.
However, Sentara notes that the School of Radiologic Technology does not have a federal ID number, which means the school cannot accept Pell Grants or federal student loans.
Southside Regional Medical Center/Bon Secours Petersburg, LLC
Located in Colonial Heights, Virginia, the Southside Regional Medical Center offers an associate degree program on radiation science and diagnostic medical sonography.
Coursework for radiation science includes anatomy and physiology, pathology, radiobiology, radiographic procedures and exposures, and radiation exposure.
Meanwhile, the diagnostic medical sonography program includes human anatomy, pathology, physics, physiology, patient care.
Southwest Virginia Community College
Through its Health and Technologies program, Southwest Virginia Community College offers courses on radiologic technology, advanced mammography, and computed tomography.
SOVAH Health’s School of Health Professions offers a residential, full-time associate degree program for radiologic technology.
Owned and operated by Danville Regional Medical Center, the school is accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and JCERT. It is also certified by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).
Tidewater Community College
Tidewater Community College aims to produce highly competent and professional radiologic technologists and x-ray technicians, who will provide excellent service and compassionate patient care to the local healthcare community.
Aside from its associate degree program on radiography, Tidewater also offers certification on CT and MRI.
Virginia Commonwealth University
The Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) positions itself as the forefront of academic radiologic science in the country.
The university offers a Bachelor of Science degree in radiography, nuclear medicine, radiation therapy, and diagnostic medical sonography. It also provides academic opportunities to registered technologists or technicians to continue their education through second modalities or degree completion.
The VCU also has an extensive radiology program, such as CT, MRI, ultrasound, diagnostic and interventional radiology, nuclear medicine, and nuclear radiology.
Students may take advantage of the school’s available financial aid resources to reduce tuition and other expenses.
Virginia Western Community College
The Virginia Western Community College recognizes the rapidly changing landscape of medical imaging and aims to equip its students academically, clinically, and professionally to meet these looming challenges.
Prospective students must attain the minimum grade requirements for high school and college level courses. A college-level GPA of 2.5 or higher is also required.
Winchester Medical Center, Inc.
The Winchester Medical Center offers a two-year certificate program on medical radiography for aspiring radiographers, MRI technicians, or X-ray technicians.
The medical radiography program is a 40-hour-per-week course divided into didactic and clinical learning. Students are expected to gain competence in patient care, anatomy and physiology, radiobiology, radiographic exposure, radiation protection, physics, and positioning.
Radiology Program vs Radiography Program
Radiology and radiography are distinct medical degree programs, with interrelated but different job responsibilities.
The radiologic technology program focuses on producing medical images of a patient’s internal organs, using diagnostic imaging equipment. This degree program is specifically for aspiring radiographers and may take two to four years to accomplish.
Technologists with more advanced training and experience may also assist in providing patients with radiation treatment.
On the other hand, a radiology program is for licensed physicians looking to specialize in diagnosing and treating patients’ medical conditions through radiation and its technologies.
Radiologists may specialize in diagnostic or interventional radiology and spend around 15 years in academic and clinical training.
Accreditation is an integral part of ensuring the quality of academic institutions, faculty, and curriculum.
Studying in an accredited school for radiography might equip students better in taking the National Registry Exam or NRE.
Three organizations are in charge of accreditations of radiology and health education programs in the country:
- Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
- Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology (JRCNMT)
CAAHEP-accredited schools include the Northern Virginia Community College, Piedmont Virginia Community College, and the Tidewater Community College(6).
Meanwhile, the JRCNMT has accredited the Virginia Commonwealth University and the Old Dominion University in Norfolk for their nuclear medicine program(7).
Radiology Requirements in Virginia
An aspiring technologist’s education and career path is similar to that of an X-ray technician. Both careers require coursework in health sciences, such as anatomy, radiation safety and protection, equipment protocols, and patient care.
Quick and critical thinking is essential for both health professions as techs must always heed proper examination techniques and patient positioning to avoid radiation exposure to themselves and the patients.
After finishing the designated degree program, aspiring techs undergo an accreditation or licensure process.
Virginia law requires anyone practicing radiologic technology to have a full license. The state does not issue temporary licenses.
However, graduates of ARRT-approved programs may be employed as trainees, provided they are under the supervision of a licensed technologist or radiologist(8).
Career Opportunities and Salary
Radiologic technologists, also known as X-ray technologists, often hold job titles such as X-ray technician.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that radiologic and MRI technologists’ job outlook is positive, with a 9% increase from 2018 to 2028(9).
Radiologic technology is a broad medical term that covers individuals who work with different imaging technologies. Among its subcategories is “radiography,” which includes x-ray technicians.
In a 2019 survey, the American Society of RadiologicTechnologists (ASRT) noted that the average annual salary for radiologic technologists is $69,266, while X-ray technicians may earn an average of $57,865 across all states(10).
The survey results are arranged per discipline and can be sorted by state. The values for X-ray technicians below were derived from the report’s “Radiography” column.
According to ASRT’s report, the average radiology tech income in the state of Virginia is $65,362(11).
X-ray technicians may receive an average of $56,511 per year in Virginia(12).
Income also varies depending on a technologist’s position. According to ASRT’s report, an entry-level technologist may receive $51,763 annually while an entry-level x-ray technician may expect $48,175 in a year(13).
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(14).
A full-time senior x-ray technician may earn $62,152, while individuals in managerial or supervisory positions may earn an average of $73,565(15).
The salary for other radiology technology fields were also covered in the report, including magnetic resonance (MR), sonography, computed tomography (CT), and mammography.
Radiologic science programs typically take 22 to 24 months to finish. Afterward, graduates may apply for a full license from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists or ARRT.
A radiologic technologist may seek employment or opt to further their education by applying for a bachelor’s degree.
Prospective students are encouraged to obtain their diploma and certification from accredited academic institutions.