An X-ray technician is in charge of producing the patient’s diagnostic visualization under the instructions and supervision of a radiologist.
A technician is responsible for patients’ needs, as the procedures performed on pediatric to geriatric patients(1).
How Much Does an X-Ray Technician Make?
In 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected the number of available radiologic and MRI technologist jobs to be 250,000, with an outlook of 9% from 2018 to 2028(2).
The BLS attributes this faster-than-average growth to the country’s fast-aging population, which rely heavily on imaging technology to diagnose illnesses.
The American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) estimated that the national average wage for radiographers or X-ray technologists as of 2019 is $57,865, only exhibiting a 3.2% change from 2007 lowest among the disciplines. The highest mean change value is in nuclear medicine, with 10%(3).
In comparison, the US radiologic technologist salary in 2019 is $69,266. Further analysis shows that the mean yearly tech salary is 16.46% lower than the mean wage for all radiologic technology modalities(4).
The same report states that 89.8% of technicians receive hourly wages with full-time X-ray techs earning around $27.82 per hour. Around 87.5% of technicians work full-time, and 36.4% work part-time, rendering between 25 to 31 hours per week.
Diving deeper into the ASRT 2019 report, X-ray tech salaries may vary depending on a technician’s position.
A staff therapist may earn an average salary of $54,423, while an individual with an administrator job title may earn an average of $115,130. That puts a nearly 53% wage gap between the two job positions(5).
An entry-level X-ray technologist with two years of professional experience or less may expect to earn $48,175 in a year, which amounts to 17% less than the average income(6).
Technicians in senior positions may expect a slightly higher income. The United States’ average salary for a full-time senior technician with more than 30 years of experience is $70,639, which amounts to 18% more than the average radiography salary(7).
The BLS noted that more than 50% of the country’s radiologic staff works in hospitals. The rest of the healthcare workforce is in imaging centers, mobile clinic units, government projects, education, or corporate settings(8).
Those who work in the industrial setting earn the most with annual compensation of $74,551, while those working in clinics or outpatient care centers earn the lowest at $51,639(9).
There is also a slight income difference in those working in a hospital setting. X-ray techs working in a non-profit hospital may earn $83,282 annually, while techs in a for-profit hospital make 6% less with $78,239(10).
Technicians working as temporary staff receive a 19% higher salary than those in mobile clinic units with $66,064, while educators get a $73,781 annual income(11).
Based on the 2019 survey, educational attainment does not merit much increase in X-ray tech salaries. Individuals with a bachelor’s degree earn only 5.9% higher than those with an associate’s degree(12).
A master’s degree increases one’s wage by approximately 21% compared to a bachelor’s degree, while earning a doctorate or a medical degree increases one’s salary by 32%(13).
Earning certifications only slightly impacts a technician’s salary, providing a 6.66% increase(14).
Looking closely at these broad-scope data on a tech’s salary, one could infer that there is very little income dynamic between categories, such as years of experience, level of education, or nature of the workplace.
Benefits and Personal Development
No data is available on the benefits and personal development funds received by X-ray techs on top or as part of their annual income. However, ASRT provides a report on the benefits received along with radiology technologists’ salaries.
In 2016, 71.9% of radiology techs stated that they receive health insurance benefits, and 63.9% report having dental insurance(15).
Around 73.5% of employees also reported that they receive retirement or pension funds from the companies they work for(16).
However, this trend does not apply to personal development, with 79.9% of employers not covering association dues, and more than 50% do not provide tuition assistance for continued education(17).
Course materials are also not widely covered, with less than 30% of employers covering the expense(18).
The year 2019 saw a decline in some of these figures.
According to ASRT, the number of rad techs who receive pension funds remained consistent at 73.1%, while those receiving health insurance benefits dropped to 68.4%. Technicians with dental insurance also slightly declined to 61.3%(19).
Employer support for personal development funds increased, with 22.4% of employees receiving association dues funding(20).
Support for tuition fee assistance has also increased, while course materials continue to have limited coverage.
X-Ray Technician Salary By State
Workplace location also plays a significant role in an employee’s base salary. Economic factors, such as supply and demand, state and federal laws, government support, and healthcare infrastructure, interweaves in determining how much a state should pay its workers.
According to ASRT, the states with the highest salaries for radiology technicians as of 2019 are California, Hawaii, and Alaska. The lowest paying states are Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas(21).
However, it is worth noting that radiography has the lowest-paying average among all radiology disciplines.
Job growth, as depicted by a 10-year trend on X-ray techs’ salaries, proves to be slow and static.
The field saw a dip on its mean wage in 2013. The yearly trend did not seem to yield more than 1.5% of its growth since 2007(22).
In 2016, California was the highest-paying state for X-ray techs, with an annual wage of $81,276.
The District of Columbia (DC) followed it with $70,019, and Hawaii with $69,962. Massachusetts and Washington are also high-paying states with $69,209 and $66,792(23).
Low-paying states include Alabama, with a salary of $42,433 and Mississippi with $45,464. Arkansas tails Mississippi with $46,936, while Kentucky and Tennessee finish the bottom five states with $47,017 and $47,780(24).
With these data, there is a significant disparity in income between states, with a 47.79% difference between California and Alabama(25).
Data collated by an online job site provides a summary of the tech salary for 2018. In the article, New York tops the list with an annual salary of $52,195, followed by Massachusetts with $51,701 and Washington with $51,341(26).
Rounding up the list is New Hampshire and Hawaii with $50,318 and $49,655 yearly income, respectively(27).
The least-paying states include Arizona with $44,214 and Colorado with $44,706(28).
The list also includes North Carolina with $38,280, Florida with $40,201, and Missouri with $41,201. Mississippi and Alabama closes off the list with a $41,233 and $41,655 average income(29).
The gap between the high and bottom states decreases to 26.66%, which may signify some industry growth(30).
ASRT’s 2019 report once again puts California as the top-paying state with $87,323, while Alabama is consistently one of the lowest-paying states with $46,388(31).
Compared with the data from low-paying states, like Kentucky and South Carolina, the figures give us a 46.88% wage gap(32).
It should be noted that the discussion on salaries per state should also include the cost of living index or CLI.
The CLI compares the cost of living in leading cities to a metropolitan area. Workforce members may use the CLI to determine whether a state’s average salary is livable and beneficial.
According to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC), the states with the lowest cost of living in the first quarter of 2020 include Mississippi, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, Alabama, Illinois, and Georgia(33).
States with a higher cost of living include Hawaii, DC, New York, California, Oregon, Massachusetts, Alaska, Maryland, Connecticut, and New Jersey.
Based on this data, the states with higher pay also have higher costs of living, which may affect employees’ purchasing power and financial capabilities.
How to Become an X-ray Technician
An aspiring radiographer’s educational path is similar to that of a radiology technician. Both careers require coursework in anatomy, patient positioning, equipment protocols, examination techniques, radiation safety and protection, and primary patient care.
The path diverges in the length of the degree program. While technologists are required to finish a two-year associate’s degree with extensive hospital-based hands-on training, X-ray techs may complete their program in as little as nine months.
After finishing the designated degree program, aspiring technicians undergo an accreditation process.
According to the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), the accreditation process and requirements may differ per state, with more than 75% of US states having established licensure laws(34).
For instance, California requires future X-ray techs to undergo state licensing procedures on Limited X-ray Technology in three categories: chest, torso-skeletal, and extremities(35).
While some states require state-mandated procedures, some have deferred to private medical groups or accreditation institutions, such as ARRT, for licensing requirements.
Depending on the state, an ARRT membership and accreditation may be enough to work as an X-ray tech(36).
X-ray Tech’s Job Description
A tech’s job requires producing medical imaging of internal organs, which may be used to effectively form a diagnosis and treatment plan for a patient’s condition.
X-ray techs must work closely with physicians and operate the imaging equipment whenever and however necessary.
Patient interaction is also essential, as it often falls to technicians to explain medical imaging procedures.
Technicians are in charge of guiding patients into proper positions, which may be vital for patients with limited mobility.
Technicians must also follow strict protocols to prevent unnecessary exposure to radiation on themselves and the patients.
Techs also manage equipment maintenance and ensure it is in excellent working condition. They are in charge of maintaining an accurate record of all completed X-ray procedures.
Radiologic Technologists or X-ray Technicians?
The term X-ray technicians may be interchangeable with radiologic technologists. However, there are important distinctions between them.
Radiologic technology is an umbrella term that covers individuals who may work with several different imaging modalities. These modalities include sonography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or positron emission tomography (PET), and X-rays.
X-ray technicians belong under the umbrella of radiologic technicians and may require a separate certification or accreditation process.
Medical radiography is a technique that uses x-rays, gamma rays, and ionizing radiation to form a diagnostic imaging of a patient’s internal body parts.
The image is achieved by passing an X-ray beam through the patient’s body and capturing the resulting X-ray pattern in a static image.
The resulting static images are vital in conducting a proper diagnosis and treatment on a medical condition or injury.
Radiography differs from other diagnostic imaging techniques, such as mammography, fluoroscopy, and computed tomography, via the equipment and procedures used. Doctors use radiography to plan radiation therapy treatment.
A radiologist interprets the imaging results and decides on the proper diagnosis and treatment.
X-ray technicians are essential members of the healthcare workforce. Through their efforts and expertise, doctors can diagnose and treat patients, saving millions of lives.
Coming off of high school, aspiring technicians may take a degree program to begin their careers and receive further training to pursue a specialization.
The 2019 mean annual salary for tech jobs was $57,865. In contrast, radiologic technologists receive a mean wage of $69,266(37).
The top three highest-paying states are California, Hawaii, and DC. Meanwhile, the top three low-paying states are Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas(38).
Technicians working at an industrial setting earn the highest salary at $74,551, followed by educators with an average of 73,781(39).
The lowest-earning X-ray technicians are working at outpatient care centers with a $51,639 average yearly wage(40).
Further analysis salaries for X-ray technician jobs reveal that educational attainment does not significantly increase one’s average wage.
Having a doctoral degree increases one’s salary by 36.10% from having an associate’s degree and 32% from a bachelor’s degree. Acquiring further certifications also increases one’s salary by 6.66% to 12.24%(41).
Still, radiology has the least dynamic and lowest average annual income among other radiologic technology disciplines. The top-paying discipline is medical dosimetry, with an average of $114,891(42).
Medical dosimetry is the science of creating customized radiation treatment programs for cancer patients.
- “ETSU Homepage.” What is Radiography? East Tennessee State University. Accessed August 21, 2020. https://www.etsu.edu/crhs/allied-health/radiologic/whatis.php.
- “Radiologic and MRI Technologists : Occupational Outlook Handbook.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 10, 2020. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/radiologic-technologists.htm.
- “Radiologic Technologist Wage and Salary Survey 2019.” American Society of Radiologic Technologists, 2019. https://www.asrt.org/.
- “Radiologic Technologist Wage and Salary Survey 2016.” American Society of Radiologic Technologists. American Society of Radiologic Technologists, 2016. https://www.asrt.org/docs/default-source/research/radiologic-technologist-wage-and-salary-survey-2016.pdf?sfvrsn=2.
- Radiologic Technologist Wage and Salary Survey 2019. Op. Cit.
- Radiologic Technologist Wage and Salary Survey 2019. Op. Cit.
- Radiologic Technologist Wage and Salary Survey 2016. Op. Cit.
- “Q: What Is the Average X Ray Technician Salary by State in 2020?” ZipRecruiter. ZipRecruiter. Accessed August 21, 2020. https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/What-Is-the-Average-X-Ray-Technician-Salary-by-State.
- “Cost of Living Data Series.” Missouri Department of Agency. Missouri Department of Agency, 2020. https://meric.mo.gov/data/cost-living-data-series.
- “State Licensing.” American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. Accessed August 20, 2020. https://www.arrt.org/about-the-profession/state-licensing.
- Burton, Jennifer. “Differences Between Radiologic Technicians and X-Ray Techs.” Work, November 21, 2017. https://work.chron.com/differences-between-radiologic-technicians-xray\-techs-25424.html.
- Radiologic Technologist Wage and Salary Survey 2019. Op. Cit.