Detailed Guide forRadiologic Technologists and Technicians* in California
May also be called: Radiographers; Diagnostic Radiologic Technologists; Therapeutic Radiologic Technologists; Fluoroscopy Radiologic Technologists; Radiation Therapists; CAT Scan Operators; and X-ray Technicians
Specialties within this occupation include: Mammographic Radiologic Technologists; Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technologists; and Computer Tomography (CT) Technologists
What Would I Do?
Radiologic Technologists and Technicians work with physicians, particularly radiologists, and other health care professionals preparing patients for examinations and performing X-rays. They also operate, adjust, and maintain equipment used to show portions of the human body on X-ray film or fluoroscopic screens. Technologists are generally qualified to x-ray any part of the body; whereas, Technicians may be permitted to x-ray a very limited range of body parts.
Diagnostic Radiologic Technologists prepare chemical mixtures and help administer them to patients to make the internal organs more visible. They may use a hypodermic needle to administer nonradioactive materials into a patient's bloodstream for diagnostic purposes. Therapeutic Radiologic Technologists typically work with cancer patients and perform a wide variety of technical therapeutic procedures by the application of ionizing radiation from radioactive materials or generators to treat benign or malignant diseases of the body. They use methods such as surgery, drugs, and radiation therapy, with emphasis on radiation-therapy techniques.
Technologists and Technicians explain procedures and position patients so that the parts of the body can be appropriately x-rayed. They may ask patients to remove their clothing and jewelry then make sure the areas not being x-rayed are covered with protective lead shields. They position the X-ray equipment, set controls on the equipment, and take the X-ray. After this process is complete, they remove the film, develop it, and then send it to the doctor with their observations. In some cases, X-ray data is entered into a computer system.
Experienced Technologists can perform more complex imaging procedures. Some may perform fluoroscopies by creating a solution of contrast medium for the patient to drink while a radiologist interprets the resulting images of soft tissues in the body. They also may work with other members of the medical team to conduct intricate diagnostic studies of arteries and veins known as "angiography" or vascular procedures. While doctors and nurses perform delicate, surgical-type procedures, Technologists use specialized equipment and techniques to take a series of rapid-sequence films. The images produced must be exactly right the first time because after the exam begins, there is no opportunity to correct or readjust the equipment.
Technologists may specialize in three major areas: mammography, computed tomography technology, and magnetic resonance technology.
Mammographic Radiologic Technologists are Therapeutic Radiologic Technologists who specialize in using X-rays to make images of the chest for cancer screening.
Computed Tomography (CT) Technologists are Diagnostic Radiologic Technologists who use Computed Axial Tomography (CAT) scanning machines to produce three-dimensional X-rays that generate cross-sectional images on a viewing screen.
Magnetic Resonance Technologists are Diagnostic Radiologic Technologists who operate Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines that use strong magnets and radio waves, rather than radiation, to create an image.
Furthermore, Radiologic Technologists and Technicians keep patient records, prepare work schedules, evaluate purchases of equipment, and may manage a radiology department. They use CT or CAT scanners or tubes, medical radiological positioning aids such as compression bands and patient immobilizing devices, and X-ray dark room equipment and supplies. They also use computer software such as electronic medical record software and diagnostic image review software.
Important Tasks and Related Skills
Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.
|View the skill definitions|
|Task||Skill Used in this Task|
|Perform procedures such as linear tomography, mammography, sonograms, joint and cyst aspirations, routine contrast studies, routine fluoroscopy and examinations of the head, trunk, and extremities under supervision of physician.||Medicine and Dentistry|
|Provide assistance in dressing or changing seriously ill, injured, or disabled patients.||Customer and Personal Service|
|Take thorough and accurate patient medical histories.||Active Listening|
|Explain procedures and observe patients to ensure safety and comfort during scan.||Speaking|
|Determine patients' x-ray needs by reading requests or instructions from physicians.||Reading Comprehension|
|Monitor patients' conditions and reactions, reporting abnormal signs to physician.||Problem Sensitivity|
|Review and evaluate developed x-rays, video tape, or computer generated information to determine if images are satisfactory for diagnostic purposes.||Critical Thinking|
|Position x-ray equipment and adjust controls to set exposure factors, such as time and distance.||Control Precision|
Below is a definition for each skill.
|View the tasks to skills list|
|Medicine and Dentistry||Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.|
|Customer and Personal Service||Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.|
|Active Listening||Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.|
|Speaking||Talking to others to convey information effectively.|
|Reading Comprehension||Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.|
|Problem Sensitivity||The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.|
|Critical Thinking||Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.|
|Control Precision||The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.|
Radiologic Technologists and Technicians generally work in hospitals, clinics, free-standing imaging centers, mobile units, doctors’ offices, and medical groups. They typically work a 40-hour week; but because hospitals provide X-ray services around the clock, they may work evening, night, weekend, or on-call hours. Opportunities for part-time and shift work are also available. Technologists and Technicians may deal with stressful, heavy workloads.
Physical stamina is important, because Technologists and Technicians are on their feet for long periods of time during their work day. They may be required to lift or turn patients and help them to stand or walk which can make them subject to injuries. The job may also involve a lot of walking, bending, stooping, and reaching. Technologists and Technicians operate diagnostic machines, but also may perform some procedures at patients’ bedsides. Some may travel in large vans equipped with sophisticated diagnostic equipment to provide services off-site. Even though radiation hazards exist in this occupation, they are minimized by the use of lead aprons, gloves, and other shielding devices, as well as by instruments monitoring exposure to radiation. Technologists and Technicians may wear special badges that monitor their exposure to X-rays.
Radiologic Technologists and Technicians can join the California Society of Radiologic Technologists (CSRT) or the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Those that work for the State of California can join the Service Employees International Union.
Will This Job Fit Me?
The job of Radiologic Technologist and Technician will appeal to those who have realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. These occupations also involve working with real-world materials, like tools and machinery, and little paperwork.
What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?
The median wage in 2016 for Radiologic Technologists and Technicians* in California was $0 annually. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.
|Annual Wages for 2016||Low|
|View Wages for All Areas|
|Hourly Wages for 2016||Low|
|View Wages for All Areas|
Benefits usually include medical, dental, life, and vision insurance as well as vacation, sick leave, and retirement plans. Some employers offer sign-on bonuses.
What is the Job Outlook?
The employment growth of Radiologic Technologists and Technicians will occur because of a growing and aging population and the increased demand for diagnostic imaging. Healthcare providers are enthusiastic about the clinical benefits of new technologies, like digital imaging technology. However, these technologies remain expensive and the extent to which they are adopted depends largely on cost and reimbursement considerations.
Projections of Employment
Annual Job Openings
How Do I Qualify?
Education, Training, and Other Requirements
Radiologic Technologists and Technicians must have the appropriate certificate or permit to practice in the State of California. They must complete an educational program approved by the California Department of Public Health, Radiological Health Branch (RHB) and pass a California State examination, or a national examination, for certification.
Radiologic Technologists generally obtain a two-year associate's degree in Radiologic Technology. After obtaining their degree, students are eligible to take the California State examination for a diagnostic or therapeutic radiologic technology certificate. They are also eligible to take the national examination for a therapeutic radiologic technology certificate. Both examinations, State and national, are given by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. Successful passage of either the State or national examination qualifies the Technologist to x-ray any part of the body. Those who obtain California State certification may also apply for additional certificates, such as the Radiologic Technologist Fluoroscopy Permit or the Mammographic Radiologic Technology Certificate, if they meet appropriate educational requirements. Technologists may also become certified in radiation therapy technology through the ARRT.
Technicians typically complete a shorter educational program than a Technologist. The Technician program grants a diploma and prepares students to take one of two California State examinations for an X-ray Technician Limited Permit or an X-ray Technician Bone Densitometry Permit. Both of these exams are administered by the ARRT and upon successful passage, permit the Technician to x-ray a very limited range of body parts. Certain procedures may require the Technician to apply for additional permits.
Formal training programs in radiography provide both classroom and clinical instruction in anatomy and physiology, patient care procedures, radiation physics, radiation protection, principles of imaging, medical terminology, positioning of patients, medical ethics, radiobiology, and pathology. Preparation for this profession is offered in hospitals, colleges and universities, vocational-technical institutes, and the U.S. Armed Forces. Hospitals, which employ most Radiologic Technologists and Technicians, prefer to hire those with formal training.
Early Career Planning
High school preparation courses in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology are recommended.
Work Study Programs
California offers Regional Occupational Programs (ROP) for Radiologic Technologists and Technicians. One such program is titled ROP-Medical Occupations. To find an ROP program near you, go to the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs Web site.
In the two years immediately preceding the expiration date of the certificate or permit, Certified Radiologic Technologists and Limited Permit X-ray Technicians are required to earn 24 approved continuing education credits to renew a certificate or permit. Certified Radiologic Technologists with authorization to perform mammography are required to earn at least 10 of those 24 approved continuing education credits in mammography and to perform at least 200 mammographic examinations.
Licensing and Certification
This occupation requires certificates or permits that are issued by the California Department of Public Health, Radiological Health Branch.
In California, Radiologic Technologists and Technicians are required to have valid, current certificates or permits to perform X-rays and use diagnostic and therapeutic machinery. Some certificates for Technologists include the Diagnostic Radiologic Technology Certificate and the Therapeutic Radiologic Technology Certificate. Technicians can obtain certificates such as the X-ray Technician Limited Permit or the X-ray Technician Bone Densitometry Permit. Additional certificates may include the California Fluoroscopy Permit, the California Venipuncture Certificate, and the California Mammography Certificate. Basic Life Support (BLS) or Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certificates may be required by employers as well. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.
Where Can I Find Training?
There are two ways to search for training information:
Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.
Where Would I Work?
Finding a Job
Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Radiologic Technologists and Technicians can also register with their school placement center for job leads. The California Society of Radiologic Technologists advertises employment opportunities as well. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.
To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).
Yellow Page Headings
You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Radiologic Technologists and Technicians*.
- Medical Clinics
- Medical Laboratories
- Physicians and Surgeons, Pediatrics-Radiology
- Physicians and Surgeons, Radiology
- X Ray Laboratories Medical Dental
Find Possible Employers
To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:
- Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
- Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
- Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
- Contact the employer for possible employment.
Where Could This Job Lead?
With experience and additional training, Technologists may become specialists who perform CT scanning, angiography, or magnetic resonance imaging. They may also become radiation therapists. Experienced Technologists also may be promoted to supervisor, chief radiologic technologist, and ultimately, department administrator or director. Some Technologists and Technicians become instructors in radiologic technology programs.
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For the Career Professional
The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.