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The personnel are either called x ray technicians or technologists depending on their level of education and the complexity of imaging that they perform, with technologists being more educated and highly skilled than technicians. They work with a broad range of medical equipment, including:
- Traditional x-ray machines
- Film and digital mammography equipment
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) devices
- Fluoroscopy machines
- Computerized axial tomography (CT) machines
When they work with patients, the techs must explain the requisite preparations and procedures to the patients. Positioning the patients correctly on the working tables, the technicians apply protective lead coverings on the bodies of their patients and select the most appropriate angles for taking the most accurate pictures. During imaging, the technicians must usually adhere to the requests made by physicians through the radiography request forms.
For highly specialized x-ray technologists, however, they can work together with radiologists during image interpretation and help to establish whether further tests should be conducted. While the primary responsibility of the this career is to produce accurate and reliable images, the technicians are also core players in radiological safety in hospitals and clinics. They are also responsible for basic equipment maintenance, upkeep of machines and detailed filing of records of all procedures.
PBN Expert Tip: Watch the short video below to get an idea of every day life for a tech.
Practicing radiology technicians are expected to be highly skilled and competent in their work. Therefore, they should have impeccable understanding of medical terminology, conditions and the operation of high-tech imaging machines. Regardless of whether they work in X-ray diagnostic centers, physician offices or hospitals, the radiographers should constantly refresh their skills and procedural mastery in order to be more helpful to both patients and physicians.
Besides, the radiology techs should be proficient in both spoken and written communication in order to answer questions, follow instructions and comment on reports flawlessly. Indeed, technicians must be dexterous, analytical, knowledgeable, cordial and proactive in order to be useful to the diagnostic and treatment process.
Commonly, technicians begin their careers as associate degree holders in radiography. However, there are also certificate, diploma and bachelor’s degree courses that can allow students to enter the field according to their order of merit. The training programs include extensive study of:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Hands-on training
- Clinical procedures
- Patient positioning
- Radiation pathology
- Infection control
- Radiation protection
- Radiation physics
After the completion of training, the trainees must take licensure or registration examinations. The technicians should also take voluntary professional certifications with accredited organizations in order to boost their employment chances. While the most crucial skills are scientific, mathematics and interpersonal communications skills, successful radiologic technicians usually have adequate computer skills (such as patient database software and medical software).
Licensed techs usually work for at least 40 hours per week in imaging centers, rehabilitation centers, hospitals and physician offices. There are also employment opportunities in various agencies that receive X-ray requests from different medical facilities. Experienced, certified radiographers should obtain additional certification in order to upgrade into radiology assistants and to specialize in diagnostic equipment such as the MRI machine or the CT scanner. Additional studies can also enable you to take up a teaching position, a sales representative post for a radiology equipment manufacturer, or to become a departmental director.
X-ray technician: Lower-cadre professionals in the medical imaging and radiology field. In terms of education, they simply have certificate, diploma or associate degree qualifications, with limited training time (6 months-2 years) and a limited number of courses.
Radiologic technicians: Can perform a broad range of simple imaging tasks using x-rays, CT scanners and MRI machines.
Radiologic technologist: When radiologic technicians (above) develop their careers through continued education or bachelor’s degree in radiology, the technicians become technologists. A radiologic technologist is therefore a highly trained professional who can undertake specific and highly complex diagnostic tests, such as mammography and tomography.
Radiologic scientists: Holders of bachelor’s degree or higher qualifications in radiology are generally called radiologic scientists (or technologists). Technologists are highly trained professionals in x-ray imaging techniques, calibration, reporting and interpretation. Hence, they can work with radiologists (physicians) during interpretation of the images. In the normal working environment, technologists supervise and direct the work of the technicians because they are more competent and highly skilled in radiologic techniques.
Ultrasound technicians (also sonographers): Skilled professionals in the use of sound waves to create images of the patient’s internal body. Sonographers use sound waves instead of X-rays and can specialize in gynecological (obstetric), cardiovascular, abdominal and brain imaging sub-specialties.
EKG technicians: Specialize in preparing and giving electrocardiographic tests. The tests use electrodes to monitor the electrical activities of the heart. They also have corresponding higher-cadre professionals called technologists, there are ultrasound technologists and EKG technologists respectively.
X-Ray Tech Salary & Pay
The lowest paying job is the tech salary. Being the least specialized professional who takes 6 months to 1 year of training before joining the job market, they are paid a salary ranging from $40,000 to $60,000 per year. In fact, the x ray technician salary is usually the lowest level pay for professionals in this field. Above the xray tech is the radiologic technician. Radiologic technicians perform more complex tasks than x ray techs, as they cover X-ray Imaging, Mammography, Echocardiography, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Vascular Technology and Computed Tomography. Besides, radiologic technicians usually hold at least an Associate Degree in Applied Science and earn more than $60,000 per year.
The third x ray tech salary bracket in this field is the technologist (Radiologic technologist). Technologists have at least a Bachelor’s Degree of Science or Radiology, with specialization in X-rays, sonography, nuclear medicine, magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography, diagnostic radiography and fluoroscopy. Therefore, the technologists earn more than $100,000 per year, though the salary will vary with the institution of employment. The most high-paying jobs are available in outpatient care centers, surgical and general medical hospitals, the Federal Executive Branch, private physician offices and diagnostic labs.