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How Do I Become an X-Ray Technician?

An x-ray technician preparing to take x-rays of a patient.
An X-ray machine.
An x-ray tech must work well with others and be detail-oriented.
X-ray technicians use equipment such as X-ray machines to take images of bones or other internal parts of a patient's body.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2014
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X-ray technicians are given the job of performing x-rays for use in diagnosing medical conditions and injuries. They work in a wide variety of settings, including hospitals, doctor's offices, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, and radiology clinics. Diagnostics centers may also hire x-ray technicians. If you want to become an x-ray technician, it is a good idea to take both science and math classes in high school, which can provide a good foundation for future training.

There are formal radiological training programs designed to prepare people to become x-ray technicians. You should get a high school diploma or GED before applying to one of these programs. Most programs last for one to four years, depending on the type of training provided and how often classes are held. You may graduate from a radiologic program with an associate's degree, which requires about two years of training. While this is a common choice for many who pursue this career, it is not the only path to the job; there are also training programs that grant certificates of completion and bachelor's degrees.

In some cases, people who are already working in the medical field decide to pursue x-ray technician careers. In such a case, a person may choose an accelerated program that allows him to become an x-ray technician in about a year. Often, those who chose bachelor-level programs do so because they have a desire to qualify for management or administrative-related jobs.

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After completing you course of study, you will typically pursue certification, such as through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. You must complete an accredited training program and pass an exam before certification is granted, but it is fully voluntary. To maintain your certification in the US, you must complete 24 credits of continuing education every two years.

Besides formal training, you should consider whether you are well-suited to the job. Generally, a person in this field should be able to work well with others — both other medical professionals and patients — and pay close attention to detail. You should have a good deal of physical stamina, as you may have to stand for a long portion of the work day. Physical strength is another requirement, as you may be required to help move and turn patients who need assistance.

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anon322330
Post 4

I am a student and I am interested in radiography. I need help on finding more information on how to become a radiographer, and where I can study.

anon239174
Post 3

@letshearit: It is a fairly safe job (about as safe as any other job in the health care field).

As far as chemicals for developing the film, I have not heard all that much about actually. In North America at least the vast majority of clinics/hospitals, etc. have moved onto digital and no longer develop film.

As for radiation exposure, without going into too much detail related to distance dose etc, MRTs if they are doing their job right, should not be exposed much at all. The room is heavily leaded to avoid any scatter radiation from leaving the room the machine is in.

For some procedures such as fluoroscopy, the MRT must be in the room to perform the procedure and yes, they will receive a minor dose at that point, but they are required to wear heavy lead shielding to keep vital areas protected.

All members of the radiography team are required to wear badges with their specific information on it that is monitored frequently to ensure no one has been exposed. If an individual did happen to be exposed, they would be unable to work for a certain period of time.

The dose received even by the patient due to modern X-ray technology is actually quite low these days. For example, if you went in for a full on chest X-ray, the dose you receive would be roughly equivalent to being alive for three days on this planet at sea level (due to background radiation given off by the various elements in the ground).

The most common health problem I've noticed seems to be injuring one's back (same for most of the hands on health care professions such as nurse, porter, etc.).

I have yet to encounter any glowing MRTs but if I do I will be sure to get back to you.

letshearit
Post 2

Does anyone know if being an x-ray technician is a safe job?

I know that have to work around developing chemicals all day, and of course the x-ray machine itself gives off radiation. I would worry that being around that equipment all day would be terrible for your health.

Do the people doing this work have guidelines about how much radiation exposure they are allowed to have? Does anyone monitor it?

In the case of the x-ray developing chemicals, are they responsible for disposal and mixing of any ingredients?

MrSmirnov
Post 1

X-ray technicians actually make a decent amount of money, usually between $40,000-$65,000USD a year. Though, like anything else, it depends on your schooling and experience.

I read through some forums that featured students when I was thinking about pursuing this career, as well as x-ray technicians talking about this job and they agreed that while the pay was pretty good, they were concerned that there is a lot more competition these days. It seems that many have started to pursue this career in recent years.

If you are considering being an x-ray technician I would recommend interning at a local hospital to get a feel for it. Also, looking at job positions would give you a good idea of how many spots were available.

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