Radiology is the use of radioactive waves or materials for the diagnosis and treatment of medical problems. X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), and computed tomography (CT) are among the methods used by radiologists, radiographers, and radiologic technicians to take images of bone and tissue for diagnostic purposes. Radiology technicians and technologists operate complex and expensive machinery, usually in collaboration with a physician, to help patients.
Becoming a radiologist or radiologic technician/technologist doesn’t take as long as becoming a doctor, but it still requires rigorous training. The following schools can provide partially or fully online accredited degrees that can lead to a career as a radiology tech.
Pima Medical Institute — Pima Medical Institute offers an AOS in radiography which can smoothly transition into the BS in radiologic sciences program. Students learn to perform diagnostic imaging examinations like X-rays, for which they need to know what to look for, as well as medical terminology, and anatomy. Students can specialize in bone densitometry, cardiovascular-interventional radiography, computed tomography, mammography, and sonography among others.
Adventist University of Health Sciences — The Adventist University of Health Sciences' BS in radiological science degree covers everything the professional radiologist needs to know about mammography, computed tomography, MRI, advanced patient care issues, and medical imaging. Coursework also covers issues and trends in health care and case studies, with a focus on providing the tools and insights students need to become marketable job applicants.
Online radiology degrees are growing in popularity because of the job opportunities and career improvement options they offer. Becoming a radiology technician takes less time than getting a bachelor’s degree in the liberal arts, but there are less elective courses and generally a tighter focus on one subject. If you are looking to explore various topics and are not sure what career you want to pursue, then perhaps a more general associate’s or bachelor’s degree is a more appropriate choice. If you know that radiology tech is the job for you though, and you want to be prepared to excel in that career, getting a degree is a must.
It is important to understand the difference between radiologists and radiology technicians or technologists. Becoming a radiologist requires attending medical school and earning an MD so that you can diagnose illness and prescribe radiologic treatments like chemotherapy. Radiology technicians/technologists use x-ray machines and other imaging equipment to take pictures of patients’ bones and tissues for a doctor to use to make a diagnosis. Radiologists may be able to obtain a bachelor’s of general science or biology online before applying to medical school, whereas radiology technologists are able to complete one to two year programs online before sitting for their licensing exam. For technologists, a licensing exam must be passed by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (AART). To qualify to take this exam you must first pass a certification or associates degree program. Upon entering the work force, you must attend continuing education courses at the rate of 24 hours every other year you’re practicing. A radiology technologist can also be referred to as a medical imaging technician or technologist. All of these names encompass the position of aiding doctors with x-ray, ultrasound, and other medical imaging techniques.
Certification and associate’s degree programs in radiology usually prepare students for jobs in hospitals. As of 2008, a little over 60% of technologist and radiologist jobs were in hospitals. These jobs are slated to rise in the coming decade, especially for those who are trained on multiple types of imaging equipment such as MRI, CT scans and mammography. Hospitals are looking to cut costs and having an employee on board who is able to conduct several types of radiology as opposed to one proves to be the most cost effective for limited budgets. Through 2018, we’re looking at a 17% job growth rate for radiology technologists and radiologists. Radiology technologists and technicians may work for a few years in this position and then pursue a bachelor’s degree in radiology to become a radiology nurse. Before practicing as a radiology nurse, you’re requires to pass an exam administered by the Association for Radiologic and Image Nursing (ARIN).
There are very few schools that offer online programs for radiology and radiologic studies. In many cases, students start off with associate of bachelor degrees in the healthcare field and then seek specialized training for the equipment they will be operating. Below are common degrees used to start a career as a radiologist.
Licensure and certification exams are not necessarily taken care of by schools offering radiology technician training. You will likely have to set up your appointments to sit for the respective exams, as well as pay for them. Some exams have late fees if you sign up to take the exam but do not pay by a certain date. When choosing an online radiology degree or certificate, take into account the places where the exams are administered to ensure you take the test(s) in a timely manner after finishing your courses.
There are many different career options in the field of radiology. Depending on your education level and work experience, a host of professional opportunities await graduates in major medical centers, private practices, community agencies, and other healthcare settings. Some subspecialties within radiology are as follows.
This career specializes in breast imagining, capturing the correct images for doctors to diagnose patients. Those trained in this field are also able to conduct breast MRIs, ultrasounds, CT scans and biopsies. Breast imagine radiologists often conduct research on cancer and possible cures when participating in trials with infected patients. This is a field that is high in demand and in both urban and suburban areas. Breast imaging radiologists may be employed by clinics, doctors’ offices, or universities.
A nuclear radiologist specializes in using nuclear radiology to treat patients. Classes for obtaining your nuclear radiology degree typically involve biology, physical sciences, radiation procedures, imaging and computer programs that aid nuclear radiologists while working in the lab. There are several degrees that fall under this umbrella of a nuclear radiology degree, including associate’s and bachelor’s degrees. In addition to your nuclear radiology degree you will have to take at least one licensing exam to become certified to work in your field. In some states, two certificates are required so it’s important to do your research to find out what’s needed before beginning a program. The AART is required by the majority of states, although several require passing a licensing exam administered by the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB).
Neuroradiology focuses on the spine, head, neck and peripheral and central nervous systems. Students learn to diagnose problems via CT scans and MRIs. All radiology students are required to study at least four months of neuroradiology. Those specializing in the area will go on to study interventional neuroradiology. This allows radiologists to diagnose strokes, tumors and aneurysms. Currently neuroradiology students learn how to diagnose patients and problems with the help of technology.
A veterinary radiologist is high in demand for exotic and equestrian animals. If you’re being trained for veterinarian radiology, it’s important to gain experience working with and diagnosing large animals. These are usually contract jobs, but can command a high salary since you are working for private sanctuaries or large zoos with exotic animals.
A cardiovascular radiologist focuses on blood vessels, the heart and the flow of blood through the body. In this instance, radiologists are working with MRIs and CT scans that revolve around the veins and arteries. There are also technologists that work exclusively with the cardiovascular system, but that job requires a two year associate’s degree versus a four year bachelor’s degree.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that “employment of radiologic technologists is expected to increase by about 17 percent from 2008 to 2018, faster than the average for all occupations.” This growth is largely driven by the growing medical imaging needs of an aging populous. Although x-ray is the technique most commonly associated with radiologic technicians’ duties, there are several other imaging techniques that are on the rise in both initial diagnostic and continued monitoring uses. computerized tomography (CT) scans, positron emission tomography (PET), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are all commonly used for soft tissue and brain imaging, and a radiologic technician with skills and licensure in all of these techniques will be highly employable in hospitals and other medical facilities.
The median annual wage of radiologic technologists was $52,210 as of May, 2008, and rising demand for their services will likely drive wages up in the coming decade.
Radiology tech licensing and certification is conducted on a state-by-state basis, so a license that you earn in one state won’t necessarily transfer to a new location. The state health board in any state should be able to provide detailed licensure requirements for radiologic technicians on request.
Continuing education is another consideration for anyone considering a career as a radiology technician. Every two years, radiology techs need to complete 24 hours of classes to keep their knowledge of the rapidly innovating field of medical imaging up-to-date.
The two primary ways for radiology techs to grow their careers are by learning additional skills and mastering the most needed imaging techniques, and by gaining managerial skills and moving up the chain of command. A radiology tech who shows leadership potential can be promoted to supervisor and continue to get positions with more administrative responsibility from there. A radiology tech with mastery of several imaging equipment types may not earn new job titles frequently, but should be able to negotiate for higher pay if their skills are diverse and in high demand.
To find out the costs, graduation timeline, and curriculum details of various radiology tech programs, you’ll have to get in touch with the specific schools you’re looking at and applying to. The links below can help you do just that. Once you’ve found out the details of a few programs and applied for the financial aid you want, getting into good study habits will be the only obstacle between you and a respectable degree that can get you a good career as a radiology tech.
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