- X-ray technicians may pursue a certificate program, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree in radiologic technology.
- Limited scope X-ray programs are available at the certificate level. This program is the minimum education requirement to work in the radiology field.
- X-ray technicians may also take a two-year associate’s degree or a four-year bachelor’s degree in radiologic technology. These degree programs usually offer a major or specialization.
- To become an X-ray technician, one must complete a program accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT).
- Passing the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification exam helps X-ray technicians obtain a license and find better career prospects. These careers include becoming a radiologic technologist or radiology technician.
Radiology Tech Programs
X-ray technicians may pursue a certificate program, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree in radiology.
Limited scope X-ray programs are available at the certificate level. Meanwhile, the associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs include radiologic technology or radiography.
Radiologic technology degrees usually offer a major or specialization. The most common specializations include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scan, sonography or ultrasound, radiation therapy, and nuclear medicine technology.
X-ray technicians may choose to specialize in one or more radiology areas and pursue further training and education.
|Degree Level||Program Offered||Duration|
|Certificate program||Limited scope X-ray||One to two years|
|Associate’s degree||Radiologic technology||Two years|
|Bachelor’s degree||Radiologic technology or radiography||Four years|
A certificate in radiologic technology, or radiology certificate, is the minimum education requirement to work in the field of radiologic technology.
Certificate programs for X-ray technicians usually take one to two years to complete. These programs are ideal for people interested in completing a post-secondary education but do not have enough time to commit to a full degree program.
For entry-level work, radiology certificates include limited scope X-ray programs. These programs are also known as limited medical radiography or basic X-ray machine operator programs.
Limited scope X-ray programs prepare individuals to work with X-ray machines safely in a limited range of practice.
Students learn to follow proper safety standards in preparing and explaining the procedure to patients, positioning the equipment, and conducting X-ray exams.
The courses also include medical laboratory procedures, radiation biology and protection, image production and evaluation, and basic imaging physics.
Admission to limited scope X-ray programs requires a high school diploma or passing the GED (general education development) test. Having a background in math, chemistry, biology, and physics is also helpful.
Additionally, radiologic technology certificates may also be an alternative for professionals seeking advanced imaging expertise and earning a second degree.
Certificate programs are commonly offered at vocational schools, allied health schools, and community colleges. However, online programs may also be available in select modalities for those who are already certified.
An associate’s degree for X-ray technicians is the minimum requirement to work in most hospitals or healthcare facilities, as a member of a diagnostic imaging team.
The required coursework may vary depending on the major, but classes generally involve math, human anatomy, and medical terminology.
Students also learn about radiologic advanced imaging modalities, physics, and pathology, and gain hands-on clinical experience in equipment operation and patient care.
An associate degree program in radiology technology with full-time study takes approximately two years to complete. Programs are offered at many technical schools and community colleges.
Due to the need for hands-on training in medical imaging equipment, most of the studying takes place on campus. However, select courses may be offered online.
The degree titles include the Associate of Science (AS) in Radiography, Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Radiologic Technology, and AS in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (Ultrasound). There are also associate’s degrees in MRI and nuclear medicine technology.
An X-ray technician may choose to pursue further education through a bachelor’s degree. This degree leads to greater opportunities in assuming leadership roles and earning a higher salary.
A bachelor’s degree program takes four years to complete. Some institutions also offer two-year bachelor’s degrees, but an associate’s degree or certificate may be required.
Bachelor’s degree programs focus on radiographic procedures, including full scope X-ray use and fluoroscopy. CAT (computerized axial tomography) or CT scans, and MRI are sometimes included.
The coursework for a radiography program also covers patient positioning, patient care, ethics, radiation protection and safety, radiation physics, pathology, anatomy, and advanced radiology topics.
Numerous schools offer transfer programs or online degree programs for those who already completed an associate’s degree in radiology.
Common degree titles include Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Technology (BSRT), Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Sciences (BSRS), and Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) in Radiologic Technology.
Other titles also include Bachelor of Radiography, BS in Diagnostic Medical Sonography, BS in Nuclear Medicine Technology, and Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHS) in Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences.
Bachelor’s degree graduates may be employed at clinics, physicians’ offices, medical institutions, and urgent care facilities.
Becoming an X-ray Technician
To become an X-ray technician, one must accomplish the following requirements:
X-ray technicians must first complete an accredited X-ray tech program. This program also qualifies students for the ARRT exam.
For one to two-year certificate programs, some institutions may require applicants to submit all relevant transcripts from high school or post-secondary education. A GED certificate may also be accepted.
Students pursuing an associate’s degree may choose from an Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science degree. These are entry-level degrees offered to high school graduates without prior training in radiologic technology.
Associate degree programs typically require applicants to submit a high school diploma or a graduate equivalency degree and a transcript of record.
Some institutions may also have a minimum grade point average (GPA) requirement for applicants.
For two to four-year bachelor’s programs, applicants must submit a high school or college transcript. Significant background in math and science courses may be required(1).
Some schools may require applicants to have a 2.5 GPA or higher to qualify for the bachelor’s degree programs. A letter of recommendation that outlines the applicant’s experience in radiology may also be required.
Certification and Licensure
After graduation, X-ray technicians may pursue an ARRT certification, as most employers may prefer to hire certified technicians(2).
Licensed X-ray technicians perform diagnostic imaging examinations and work in imaging centers, rehabilitation centers, physicians’ offices, and hospitals.
Obtaining an ARRT certification and state licensure helps X-ray technicians pursue advanced careers in radiology. These careers include becoming a radiologic technologist or radiology technician.
How to Become a Radiologic Technologist
Radiologic technologists, sometimes called radiographers, may begin their career after completing a two-year associate degree program in radiologic technology(3).
According to All Allied Health Schools, most radiologic technologists hold four-year bachelor’s degrees and are eligible for supervisory positions(4).
Some states may also require completion of a radiologic technology program accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT).
According to the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, one must first go through a certification process and obtain a state license before seeking employment(5).
Radiological technologists conduct tests and operate equipment for radiographic imaging, such as X-ray, CT, MRI, or mammography technologies.
How to Become a Radiologic Technician
Aspiring radiology technicians first need a high school diploma and must pass the GED test. They also need to earn a certificate or an associate degree.
However, it was reported that most employers now require a bachelor’s degree in biomedical equipment technology or engineering(6).
Obtaining an ARRT certification establishes rad techs in the field and provides them with better career prospects.
Like radiologic technologists, radiology technicians also work in medical imaging centers and perform diagnostic imaging procedures under the radiologist’s supervision.
Different colleges across the United States offer accredited radiology programs. They may be traditional or online degree programs.
The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology is the organization responsible for the accreditation of programs in medical radiography, sonography, radiation therapy, and medical imaging.
A traditional accredited program is recommended for students seeking initial certification.
This program provides students with a broad range of skills, including critical thinking, theory, lab work, healthcare management, and clinical rotations experience.
Online courses serve as a degree completion program for ARRT-registered individuals. These courses usually require at least 120 credit hours.
X-ray technicians may pursue further studies and training in radiology. The program effectiveness data, including completion rate, credential exam pass rate, and job placement rate, may help one choose a school.
Below are some radiology schools that offer JRCERT–accredited programs(7):
|Bunker Hill Community College||Medical Radiography|
|California State University Northridge||Radiologic Sciences|
|Columbus State Community College||Medical Imaging|
|Cypress College||Radiologic Technology|
|Foothill College (Los Altos Hills)||Radiologic Technology|
|Holyoke Community College||Radiologic Technology|
|Loma Linda University||Medical Radiography|
|Los Angeles City College||Radiologic Technology|
|Malcolm X College (Chicago)||Radiography|
|Massasoit Community College (Brockton)||Radiologic Technology|
|Middlesex Community College (Bedford)||Radiologic Technology|
|Mitchell Technical Institute||Radiation Therapy|
|Mt. San Antonio College||Radiologic Technology|
|North Shore Community College (Danvers)||Radiologic Technology|
|Northern Essex Community College||Radiologic Technology|
|Quinsigamond Community College (Worcester)||Radiologic Technology|
|Springfield Technical Community College||Radiologic Technology|
|University of North Carolina Hospitals||Radiation Therapy|
Career and Salary
There are different career opportunities for X-ray tech graduates. According to the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT), limited scope X-ray technicians typically work in physician’s clinics, hospitals, and diagnostic imaging centers.
X-ray technicians may act as assistants to certified radiologic technicians who perform more complex procedures.
Limited scope X-ray technicians may also obtain certification to specialize in other diagnostic equipment types, such as ultrasound, CT, or MRI machines.
X-ray technicians are generally paid by the hour since their job mostly entails laboratory work(8).
According to PayScale.com, X-ray technicians earn an average hourly rate of $20.51. Yearly, their average salary is $47,073(9).
However, X-ray technicians may increase their salaries with more years of experience and areas of specialization.
Upon passing the ARRT certification exam, X-ray technicians may work as CT or MRI technicians. As of May 2019, an MRI technician has a median annual salary of $73,410(10).
The ASRT also reported that the average annual salary for radiology professionals across the United States is $69,266 in 2019(11). However, salaries may vary by state and modality.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the highest mean salaries were recorded in California, Hawaii, and Washington DC(12). The amount can be attributed to the low number of medical professionals in the said states.
The 2019 annual salary for radiologic technologists is $101,699 in California, $89,497 in Hawaii, and $83,707 in Washington DC(13).
Meanwhile, the 2019 annual salary for radiology technicians is $66,201 in Washington, DC(14)., $62,801 in Hawaii(15), and $63,901 in California(16).
X-ray technicians may pursue different X-ray tech programs. They include certificate programs and associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree programs in radiologic technology.
The certificate level includes limited scope X-ray programs. This one-year program is the minimum education requirement to work in the radiology field.
X-ray technicians may also get a two-year associate’s degree or a four-year bachelor’s degree in radiologic technology.
These degree programs often have an area of specialization, including MRI, CT, ultrasound, radiation therapy, and nuclear medicine technology.
Becoming an X-ray technician may be achievable once the individual has met the appropriate educational and licensing requirements.
These requirements involve submitting a high school diploma, completing a JRCERT–accredited program, and passing the ARRT certification exam.
Once certified by the ARRT, the X-ray technician may obtain state licensure to improve one’s career prospects. These careers include becoming a radiologic technologist or radiology technician.
Different US colleges offer traditional degrees for students seeking initial certification. Online schools are also available as a degree completion program for ARRT-registered individuals.
Prospective students should choose an accredited program that meets their educational requirements. Schools that offer financial aid to its students is another important factor to consider.
Lastly, students should also research the school’s program effectiveness, including the completion rate, pass rate, and job placement rate.
- Study.com. (April 23, 2020). X-Ray Tech Certification and Certificate Program Information. Retrieved from: https://study.com/x-ray_tech_certification.html
- Herzing University. (Accessed 2020). Radiologist vs. Radiology Tech: What’s the Difference?. Retrieved from: https://www.herzing.edu/healthcare/radiologic-technology-degree
- All Allied Health Schools. (Accessed 2020). Radiology Technology Career Options. Retrieved from: https://www.allalliedhealthschools.com/medical-imaging/how-to-become-radiology-tech/
- American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (AART.org). (2019). ARRT Certification and Registration. Retrieved from: https://www.arrt.org/about-the-profession/arrt-certification-and-registration
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (April 10, 2020). Radiologic and MRI Technologists: Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved from: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/radiologic-technologists.htm
- Joint Review on Education in Radiologic Technology. (Accessed 2020). Find A JRCERT Accredited Program. https://www.jrcert.org/find-a-program/.
- Study.com. (September 16, 2019). Limited Scope X-Ray Technician Career Information and Requirements. Retrieved from: https://study.com/articles/Limited_Scope_X-Ray_Technician_Career_Information_and_Requirements.html
- Average X-Ray Technician Hourly Pay. Retrieved from https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=X-Ray_Technician/Hourly_Rate
- US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). (Accessed 2020). Radiologic and MRI Technologists. Retrieved from: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/radiologic-technologists.html
- American Society of Radiologic Technologists. (2019). Radiologic Technologist Wage and Salary Survey 2019. http://members.issrt.org/resources/SiteUploads/20190808/radiologic-technologist-wage-and-salary-survey-2019.pdf?token=c51b593f8d35f0ba718d1b8d0364d0d
- Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). (May 2019). Occupational Employment and Wages, Radiologic Technologists. Retrieved from: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292034.htm
- American Society of Radiologic Technologists. (2019). op. Cit.
- Salary.com. (Accessed 2020). Radiology Tech Salary in Washington, District of Columbia. Retrieved from: https://www.salary.com/research/salary/alternate/radiology-tech-salary/washington-dc
- Salary.com. (Accessed 2020). Radiology Tech Salary in Hawaii. Retrieved from: https://www.salary.com/research/salary/alternate/radiology-tech-salary/hi
- Salary.com. (Accessed 2020). Radiology Tech Salary in California City, California. Retrieved from: https://www.salary.com/research/salary/alternate/radiology-tech-salary/california-city-ca