X-ray Certification

  • An X-ray certification allows technicians to operate X-ray equipment and perform other radiographic procedures legally.
  • Before a person can obtain a certification, they must first complete a training program accredited by the JRCERT.
  • Likewise, dental assistants cannot operate an X-ray machine without first obtaining a dental X-ray certificate. Applicants are required to have passed the GED or have a high school diploma before they can sign up for a dental X-ray certification course.
  • These dental X-ray certificate programs typically take between six and fifteen months to complete. Besides X-ray training, the courses cover various dental office and sterilization procedures.

Schools With X-ray Certificate Programs

School Program Duration Requirements
State Technical College of Missouri Two years General education coursework in algebra, history, and English
Hunter Business School Two years High school diploma or GED
Community College of Baltimore County Two years Minimum high school grade of C and overall GPA of 2.5
Gannon University Four years General education requirements
Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health Four years Eighty credit hours are needed to graduate

State Technical College of Missouri

An Associate of Applied Science degree accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) can be obtained at the State Technical College of Missouri. The school prepares students to perform diagnostic X-ray exams in the healthcare industry. The typical coursework of the program involves subjects on radiation exposure, medical terminology, human anatomy, clinical education, and radiographic procedures. Graduates of the college are ready to take the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) exam to become registered radiologic technologists and X-ray technicians.

Hunter Business School

The Radiologic Technology program at Hunter Business School provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to work as a radiologic technologist. Their X-ray technician training program is approximately 2,080 hours in length and is built across four semesters.

Community College of Baltimore Country

The Radiography Program of the college is a selective admission program, which means that enrollment is competitive and limited by the availability of their patient care facilities. Furthermore, only one class is chosen each year. Aspiring radiographers are required to have minimum grades of C or better in high school.

Gannon University

Gannon University is a private Catholic institution located in Erie, Pennsylvania. Their radiologic sciences program is a twenty-four-month associate degree program accredited by the JRCERT. First-year students are required to take on a series of introductory radiology classes and also participate in clinical rotations to learn about the various departments in hospitals requiring rad techs.  Upon successful completion of the program, graduates can take the ARRT exam and begin careers in the field of radiologic technology.

Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health

The college offers an Associate of Science in Radiologic Technology program that students can accomplish in twenty-four months.  Eighty credit hours are required to graduate from the program. Students also have to meet specific technical standards before they can take the ARRT certification exam.  

X-ray Certification Requirements

The following are the required steps to become a certified X-ray technician.

Step 1: Complete X-ray Technician Training

People planning to obtain an X-ray certification should first complete training as an X-ray technician through a JRCERT-accredited program.  Alternatively, accomplishing a course through an agency approved by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) would suffice.

Step 2: Acquire the X-ray Certification

After the successful completion of an X-ray technician program, individuals may then pursue certification through an ARRT exam.  The ARRT certification requirements ensure that an X-ray technician is updated on radiological technology and is committed to being an expert. Applicants need to have graduated from an accredited X-ray technician program and have passed a written exam. The test is approximately four hours long and contains more than two-hundred multiple-choice questions.

Step 3: Recertify Every Two Years

Certified X-ray technicians are required by the ARRT to complete twenty-four continuing education credits every two years. This certification requirement offers assurance that an X-ray technician is updated on radiological technology and is committed to being an expert. They may also pass an exam for them to maintain their certification.

Radiation Safety

Radiation safety aims to limit the exposure to ionizing radiation for patients and operators(1). Its purpose is to promote the best practices in radiation protection and infection control during radiographic procedures. Individuals involved in diagnostic radiology are the ones responsible for clinical radiation safety and infection control. The radiation safety policy operates under the As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) concept concerning radiation. The DANB offers the Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) test to allow candidates to demonstrate their knowledge on the proper safety procedures when taking X-rays. RHS certification is required in many states. The RHS test has no eligibility requirements. Candidates can apply to take the exam during the application acceptance window, which is typically one calendar year. The aim of the RHS exam is to ensure that a candidate is knowledgeable about the national radiographic imaging practices. It also guarantees that dental assistants follow the proper safety protocols in utilizing radiographic machines. Dental assistants who already possess the certificate have a distinct advantage over other applicants, and may even qualify for a higher salary.

How to Register for the RHS Exam

Interested applicants can register online, by email, or by fax. It is possible to select the most convenient time, date, and location for the test since it is offered continuously throughout the year. Applicants are given a total of seventy-five minutes to answer all of the questions in the RHS exam. Five minutes are allocated at the start for the tutorial and another five minutes for comments after the test. The RHS exam is based on an adaptive computer-delivered assessment that consists of approximately a hundred multiple-choice questions. The very first question begins at the minimum pass point. If answered correctly, the next question becomes more challenging, while an incorrect answer makes the following question less difficult.

RHS Exam Scoring and Results

The Radiation Health and Safety certification tests are adaptive, which means that the difficulty increases with every correct answer. The scoring scale is one-hundred up to nine-hundred, with four-hundred being the passing point. Before candidates leave the testing facility, they are given an unofficial score report that indicates whether they passed or failed. Approximately two to three weeks after, applicants are sent an official score report by mail.

Dental X-ray Certification

Dental X-ray certification is a permit allowing dental assistants to operate X-ray equipment. It is the primary entry-level job requirement in dental assisting. Dental X-ray certificate programs require applicants to have a high school diploma or pass the General Educational Development (GED) exam. Possessing a CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) certification is also necessary. Dental X-ray courses are often part of a larger diploma program in the field of dental assisting. A dental assisting program often takes between six and fifteen months to accomplish. Apart from X-ray training, it also covers various dental office and sterilization procedures. Some areas require students to take a program that has been approved by the American Dental Association before they can qualify for state licensing exams.  Several aspects of the dental assisting industry are covered in these programs. They include courses in mathematics, communication, and general sciences. Besides learning about dental X-rays, other aspects concerning dentistry-specific topics are covered, which include:
  • Dental assisting
  • Dental radiology
  • Head and neck anatomy
  • Oral pathology
  • Preventive dentistry
Although there are no jobs based solely on dental X-rays, the procedure is a significant aspect in the field of dental assisting. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that, between 2018 and 2028, dental assistant jobs will grow by eleven percent(2) According to the same report, the median annual salary of dental assistants was $40,080 as of 2019.

Continuing Education for Dental Assistants

In most states, dental assistants are required to pass the Radiation Health and Safety test offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). They also need to maintain as many as a hundred continuing education hours each year. Some states may require dental hygienists and assistants to renew their X-ray license periodically. A certified dental assistant can become a full-fledged dental hygienist by accomplishing a few requirements. However, assistants who wish to take on the role must have graduated from associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree programs in dental hygiene. Dental assistants may prepare for their X-ray certification renewal by taking certificate programs in a dental assisting school beforehand.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Does One Get a Dental X-ray License in California?

A dental assistant in California must meet a set of requirements before they are allowed to operate a dental X-ray machine and perform other procedures in dental radiography.
  • Accomplished a Californian radiation safety course approved by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). The course should include theory and clinical application in radiographic techniques.
  • Alternatively, they may opt to pass a radiation exam conducted by the California Board before January 1, 1985.
  • Dental assistants must submit a copy of their certification to the Dental Board of California(3).

How Does One Get a Dental X-ray License in Maryland?

Dental assistants in Maryland are only allowed to operate dental X-ray equipment and carry out other dental radiographic procedures after meeting the following requirements:
  • At least 18 years of age
  • Of good moral character
  • Has a high school diploma or its equivalent
  • Has completed a board-approved course of at least twenty-four hours relevant to Maryland dental radiology
  • Has passed the national DANB Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) exam or Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) test
  • Has applied for state certification to the Maryland State Board of Dental Examiners(4)

What Is the Difference Between X-ray Technician and Radiation Therapist Programs?

Radiotherapy often uses ionizing radiation physics to treat cancer. On the other hand, X-ray technology utilizes electromagnetic radiation to generate images for diagnosing diseases. Since more sophisticated applications and technologies are involved in radiation therapy, its programs are generally available as bachelor degrees.  Programs for X-ray technicians are usually at the associate’s degree level.

What Careers Are Available for X-ray Technician School Graduates?

Depending on the completed program, an X-ray technician school graduate may be eligible for licensure or certification as a radiologic technologist that uses X-ray imaging, fluoroscopy, and contrast imaging. An associate’s degree in radiologic technology or radiography is often required. There are also health sciences centers that offer undergraduate certificate programs that can lead to a career as a limited scope X-ray technician. These technicians are only qualified to use X-ray machines in specific areas of the body. They may not perform other imaging or assistive duties unless they have been licensed in these areas of practice.

Is It Possible to Have Online Classes in an X-ray Technician School?

Those who already possess a limited scope X-ray technician license may attend online classes called “bridge” programs. These programs are designed to supply technicians with the education they need to qualify for full-scope X-ray technologist careers. Bridge programs allow transfer credits from the initial certificate program, leading to an associate of science degree in radiologic technology or radiography.  Although most courses are online, at least some clinical experiences or in-person lab work would still be necessary.

What is a Radiologic Technologist?

A radiologic technologist (rad tech) is a person who has undergone education and training by way of an accredited radiologic technologist program. The primary job of most radiology technicians is to generate images of patients’ bodies to help physicians diagnose and treat various conditions. Registered technologists work full-time in diagnostic imaging centers. These radiologist assistants are proficient in using medical imaging equipment, depending on their specialty. They can specialize in utilizing X-ray, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), sonography, and fluoroscopy machines. Depending on their chosen career, a technologist may rarely see individual patients. One example is when conducting mammography. A person looking for a career path as a radiologic technologist needs to meet the education requirements first. An associate’s degree, preferably in applied science, is one of the prerequisite courses. Having a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Sciences degree is ideal for people who wish to advance their careers as a radiologic technologist. Many community colleges offer tech programs in radiologic science for those aspiring to become a radiologic technologist. Some schools even provide financial aid for specific radiologic technology programs.

Conclusion

To work as a registered X-ray technician, one must have obtained a certification by completing a training program accredited by the JRCERT or ARRT. Typically, coursework on all levels involves classroom and laboratory instruction. An X-ray certification guarantees that an X-ray technician is up-to-date on radiological technology and is committed to their role. This type of accreditation is the primary requirement before an assistant can use an X-ray machine with a licensed dentist. Possessing a high school diploma or passing the GED exam is required before applicants can sign up for a dental X-ray certification program. These programs often take between six and fifteen months to complete. In most states, dental assistants need to pass the Radiation Health and Safety test provided by the DANB. They also have to maintain as many as one-hundred continuing education hours every year. Some areas may even require dental assistants to renew their X-ray license periodically.
  1. School of Dentistry University of Washington. Radiation Safety Policy. Retrieved from: https://dental.washington.edu/policies/clinic-policy-manual/radiation-safety/
  2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Dental Assistants. Retrieved from: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dental-assistants.htm
  3. Dental Assisting National Board. California State Requirements. Retrieved from: https://www.danb.org/Meet-State-Requirements/State-Specific-Information/California.aspx
  4. Dental Assisting National Board. Maryland State Requirements. Retrieved from: https://www.danb.org/Meet-State-Requirements/State-Specific-Information/Maryland.aspx

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