An x-ray technician takes radiographs of the human body in order to aid in medical diagnosis. He/she also helps patients prepare for x-ray procedures, maintains x-ray equipment, and keeps and maintains examination and equipment usage records. In order to become an x-ray technician, an individual must complete an approved course of academic study, pass a certification exam, and register in the state that he/she intends to practice his/her new trade in. Once someone becomes an x-ray technician, the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists requires 24 hours of continuing medical education to re-certify in the field.
How to Become an X-Ray Technician
Step 1 – Apply for an approved academic program. X-ray technicians must first complete an accredited and approved radiography program at one of more than 600 academic institutions in the United States. The length of training ranges from the radiography certificate to an associates or bachelors degree in radiography. These programs combine coursework with laboratory and clinical practice under a licensed specialist. Classwork focuses on radiation safety, physiology, medical terminology, anatomy, and pathology.
Step 2 – Pass a certifying exam. The certifying exam cannot be taken until an approved course of study has been completed. The certifying exam is a test provided to ensure that the prospective technician meets the minimum standards of practice as an x-ray technician. Many certificate and associates degree programs help students prepare for the exam. However, each program is slightly different.
Step 3 – Obtain an x-ray technician license. Most states require annual registration or licensing renewal. The licensing requirements vary by state and normally require a technician licensed in one state to apply in another. Continuing education requirements are normally verified when technicians renew their license.
Step 4 – Specialize in a field. X-ray technicians who want to have more employment opportunities can specialize in branches of radiography. These areas include magnetic resonance, CT scanning, and mammography. In order to specialize, the prospective technician must do additional coursework and gain practical experience in addition to the basic education program requirements for an x-ray technician.
Step 5 – Plan for career advancement. X-ray technicians advance in their fields through job experience and advancing their education by taking online or night classes outside of work. Positions as radiologist assistants or radiology practitioner assistants can be obtained in this manner.