X ray technicians, also known as radiologic technologists or radiographers, are responsible for helping patients through the x ray process and operating the machinery. They may have to help the patient position themselves for an x ray procedure, remove any jewelry that would inhibit the procedure, and work with the patients’ physicians to communicate the results and to ensure that the patients receive the proper x ray examinations.
Most x ray technicians work in medical offices such as private practices, hospitals, nursing homes, or dentist offices. For those who work in private practice facilities, a typical schedule is usually forty hours per week during business hours. However, many other x ray technicians, especially those who work in hospitals or emergency health centers, work irregular hours and may work overnight shifts or on weekends. Some x ray technicians also work part-time and may be responsible for transporting equipment to and from a patient’s home if they are unable to visit a health facility.
Due to the nature of the work, x ray technicians must be comfortable with heavy lifting and operating heavy machinery. Disabled patients may require extra care when receiving an x ray, including manual positioning of their bodies in order to get an effective reading. X ray technicians must also be able to strictly adhere to guidelines for operating the machines, as improper use may result in overexposure to radiation for both the technician and the patient.
Most educational programs for x ray technicians take anywhere from 21-24 months, usually culminating in an associates degree. Acceptable programs must be accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology, which has programs available different levels, including bachelors degree programs. These training programs include coursework related to radiobiology, pathology, patient care practices, safety, medical terminology, and medical ethics. This coursework, in addition to hands-on training, is an excellent way to learn about x ray technology and safety practices. The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists also offers voluntary certifications for x ray technicians that could be useful in searching for jobs in the future.
Prospective x ray technicians are entering a job market with increasing openings for trained professionals. Those who have several years of job experience or extra technical skills, such as CT, MR, or mammography, will have better luck in the job market. Typical salaries for x ray technicians range anywhere from $48,000 to $55,000 per year, depending on experience, skills, and training. In addition, medical and diagnostic laboratories are more likely to offer higher salaries than are private practice physicians.