Does your job make you want to tear out your hair? Do you feel like you’re stuck in a rut of low-paying, boring jobs?
If you’re thinking about making a career change, you might want to check out the health care field. It’s the fastest-growing industry in the United States, leaving the retail and manufacturing sectors in the dust.
If you want to start working in the health care field, you might want to study radiology and become a technician. It’s an in-demand skill set that will open the door to increased pay and long-term career growth.
How long does it take to become a radiologist technician? In general, it’ll take between one and four years. You may also put in some time job shadowing, which is like an in-person apprenticeship.
If you need more info about becoming a radiology tech, this article’s for you. We’ll give you the inside scoop on this medical specialty and help you figure out what type of program would be perfect for you.
Core Skills You’ll Need to Succeed in Health Care
Before you start applying to colleges or certificate programs, it’s important to make sure you’ve got what it takes to work in health care.
Don’t worry if you don’t know anything about x-ray technology. That’s the type of thing you’ll study in your program, along with anatomy and patient care.
If you have an interest in math and science, you could do well as a radiology technician. Try to prepare while you’re still in high school by taking biology, chemistry, and physics classes.
In addition to taking science and math classes, you will need interpersonal skills to succeed as a radiology technician. Whether you’re working at a hospital or at a small private practice, you’ll be talking to nurses and doctors every day.
If you’re still in high school, try to take at least one class about public speaking. It’ll enhance your ability to make yourself heard and understood.
Having positive, confident body language can also help you get hired more quickly. Employers look for people who make strong eye contact during an interview.
You might also want to take classes on medical coding and billing, resume preparation, and effective written communication.
What Does a Radiology Tech Do at Work?
So you’ve got what it takes to work in health care, but you might be wondering what radiology technicians, also known as x-ray techs or radiologic technologists, do all day.
Most radiology techs work a 40-hour week that might include some nights and weekends. They operate x-ray machinery, CT scanning devices, MRI machines, and sometimes mammogram machines.
They also make sure that their patients aren’t being overexposed to x-rays and that the images they create have the right degree of contrast.
Radiology techs are also trained to detect conditions that require emergency medical care, like tumors and heart diseases.
In general, a radiology tech is a skilled machine operator who is responsible for accurate images and exceptional customer care.
They may work in a nursing home, hospital, or laboratory. About half of all radiology technicians make more than $59,000 per year.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Radiologist Technician?
If you think that becoming a radiologist technician is the right career move for you, the next thing is to find a program.
You may not have to quit your job to go back to school, either. Many schools offer part-time programs to working adults.
They may also allow you to borrow enough money to cover your living expenses while you study.
But how long does it take to become a radiologist technician? In the next part of this article, we’ll cover the different programs you have to choose from.
Types of Degree and Certificate Options
There are three options for your radiology study. You can get a certificate, which takes about one year.
Or you can get an Associate’s degree in two years or a Bachelor’s degree in four years.
How long does it take to become a radiology technician if you’re going part-time?: Talk to your school about your timeline, but know that it’ll probably take you two to three times longer.
If you’re going part-time, you may be able to take classes during the winter and summer recesses to catch up.
You should also know that once you’re a licensed technician, you’ll need to take a certain number of CEUs, or continuing education units, per year.
You can find out more about CEUs here. Once you’ve graduated, your employer will let you know how many you need to do each year.
Specialize for Better Job Opportunities
There are several options for specialties, especially when you go to a four-year program. You can study oncology, which is the study of cancer.
You can also specialize in heart disease, mammography, and taking x-rays of the brain. Each specialty requires experience on a different kind of machine, and choosing a specialty will make you even more employable.
If you study the heart, for example, you will use an ECG, or electrocardiogram machine. You can study the arteries and veins of the heart and help doctors figure out the patient’s risk for heart disease.
If you specialize in mammography, you will use x-rays and MRI machines to screen your patients for cancerous lesions in their breasts. You may also train to use x-rays on cancer patients to track their recovery.
MRI specialists can also help doctors get accurate images of brain tumors in preparation for surgery.
Is Online Study an Option?
Although online studying is an option, you may want to take your classes in person. You’ll need hands-on experience in operating scanning machines, and most hospitals won’t have the time to train you.
If you need to study online, you may still be able to take your practical courses in person. Talk to your school and see what options they have for distance learning.
If you can’t study online, you might want to enroll in a two- or four-year degree program where you live on campus and study. While you’re in college, you don’t have to repay any previous student loans.
Two years might seem like a lot, but you’re investing in your future. If you make $10 per hour now, that’s about $20,000 per year. You’d be close to tripling that if you can take a few years and get your radiology degree.
To find the right school, start with your local hospital. Ask the radiology techs there where they went to school and for how long.
Do they feel like they got their money’s worth? Did they leave school with all the skills they needed to make it in the real world?
What You’ll Need to Enroll in Classes
Once you’ve found the right program, you’ll need to fill out some paperwork in order to enroll. A good rule of thumb is to start applying three to six months before you’d like to start classes.
First, you’ll need your high school or college transcripts. In general, schools want to see grades of B+ or higher.
If your grades were lower than that but your SATs or ACTs were great, just talk to your admissions specialist. They may be able to make an exception.
If you’re applying for financial aid, you will need your tax return from last year. Depending on your age, you may need to provide your parents’ tax returns as well.
Gather these documents together and fill out the application online. You may wait as long as two months to hear back from your school.
Remember, you’ll probably have to pay for books each semester. You may also have to pay for your own housing and food or take out student loans that will cover those expenses.
If possible, try to tour each college before enrolling there. You want to make sure that you like the campus and feel comfortable with the students before you make a drastic life change.
Long-Term Career Outlook for Health Care Professionals
Overall, the outlook for the health care industry is positive. As the Baby Boomer generation ages, more nursing homes and hospitals will have to open in order to meet demand.
If you can take the time to study now, you could increase your earnings by more than $30,000 each year. If you feel like you’re wasting your time in low-paying jobs, it might be time to focus on your long-term career goals.
How long does it take to become a radiologist technician? You could say that it’s a lifelong process of learning and growth, no matter what job you hold in the health care industry.
Go to school, become licensed as a radiology tech, and take your CEUs. It’s a simple three-step plan that will revolutionize your earning potential and help you succeed in the competitive world of health care.
Need more information about finding a new career? Check out our post about the benefits of going to a local job fair for more tips.