Prospective students interested in pursuing a career as an X-ray Technician should be prepared for rigorous coursework and clinical experience. There are various programs in the career field leading to a certificate, Associates or Bachelor’s degree. Programs typically take two to four years to complete. Upon completion, students will have the necessary knowledge and skills to provide diagnostic imaging services in a wide variety of situations and care settings.
General education requirements will be part of the curriculum, especially for degree-seeking students. College-level math and English, anatomy and physiology, communication, social science, history, humanities and computer courses are standard requirements before beginning x-ray technician classes. Since there is less focus on general education requirements for certificate programs, these courses may need to be completed before applying.
Learning in the classroom occurs by the use of textbooks and lectures, and the use of case studies. Students become skilled at the identification of anatomical structures on X-ray films and other imaging devices. The use of case studies helps students apply their knowledge of normal versus abnormal imaging results, while inside the classroom.
Procedures and techniques require in-depth study. Students learn how to position patients for clear images of the targeted region, how to use various imaging devices and the use of contrast in diagnostic imaging. Since each type of imaging equipment has unique benefits and drawbacks, students will learn which organs and systems are better visualized by using specific devices and under which conditions. Courses that emphasize procedure usually cover multiple semesters, with each semester dedicated to specific organ systems.
Students are required to learn quality control and medical ethics. This information may be offered as individual classes or integrated into other courses. Related coursework may include physics, pathology, quantitative and experimental methods, community health and special populations. These additional courses help prepare students to effectively deal with unique situations and expand their capabilities beyond the role of Technician to include research capabilities.
In addition to x-ray technician classes, students will need to complete clinical experience. Programs typically have designated sites where students gain the necessary experience to complete the program, and be eligible for licensure or certification. Students engage in multiple semesters of supervised experience, usually in a hospital or outpatient care setting.
Many programs give students the opportunity to specialize in the use of specific diagnostic imaging such as mammography, Computed tomography (CT) or Magnetic resonance imagery (MRI). These opportunities are commonly found at the Bachelor’s level, and may be incorporated into the program by allowing students elective courses. Otherwise, specialization may require additional study.