An x ray technician is an important part of the allied health team. Allied health professionals provide specific services in the health care field, supporting the work of physicians. The allied health fields are expected to continue to grow as the demand for health care and diagnostics grows with the aging of the population.
X-ray techs are responsible for working with doctors and patients to create x-ray images for use in diagnosis. This is career path with excellent return on investment for education and also for future employment opportunities.
X Ray Technician Roles and Responsibilities
It is critical that x-ray technicians follow physicians’ orders and directions precisely to get the correct image. They position the patient, load the film and take the x-ray when height and angle are set correctly. An extremely important aspect of the position is the safety considerations. Exposure to radiation can be dangerous and proper precautions to protect patients, the x ray technician, and other health care workers must be taken. The precautions include use of shields.
As with all roles that bring individuals in contact with patients, customer service skills, and the ability to relate to people from various backgrounds. X-ray technicians
X-rays are used by physicians to identify fractured bones, diseases, and other health-related issues. In addition, they can also be used to monitor treatment progress in patients.
X Ray Technician Training and Schools
While many of the skills required to work as an x ray technician are taught in the training program, having an educational background in the sciences, specifically mathematics, biology, anatomy, and chemistry can help prepare students. To begin training as an x ray technician, someone must have completed high school.
Licensure is required in most states and some level of formal training is required in all states, so it is important for prospective x-ray techs to ensure that they will be prepared for licensure in their state at the conclusion of a training program. One of the reasons for licensure is that it is imperative that hospitals and other locations where x-rays may be used meet federal requirements protecting the public from unnecessary exposure to radiation.
Formal training programs in radiography are accredited by The Joint Review Commission on Education in Radiologic Technology. There are a number of different training options depending upon the level of commitment for prospective radiography students. Programs can last from 1 year (certificate programs) to 4 years (bachelor’s program) long. Most often, individuals attend a two-year program and earn an associate’s degree. The one-year program is typically a fast track program for nurses to make a transition into the radiography field. As of 2009, there were 213 accredited certificate programs, 397 associate degree programs, and 35 bachelor’s degree programs.
Training is a combination of classroom and clinical training. The specific skills and knowledge acquired during a training program include: anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, patient positioning, protective measures against radiation, ethics, and radiobiology.
The cost of x ray technician training and education is directly related to the length of the training program. Shorter one year programs will obviously cost less than a full four-year bachelor’s degree. With the longer programs, there are additional general education requirements that can be transferrable to other fields, and better position an individual for a management and supervisory career track.
X Ray Tech Career Outlook and Jobs
As with many careers in health care, stronger than average growth is expected in coming years. With the aging of the U.S. population, access to medical care is important and usage of the health care system is increasing. As individuals age, they are more prone to injury and illness.
From 2008 to 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 17 percent increase in employment of x-ray technicians and similar positions. Technicians who are open to relocation will have the highest probability of employment, as there are some regional demand patterns.
X-Ray Technician Salary
In 2008, the median wage of radiologic technologist was $52,210. The range of pay was from $35,100 to $74,970. Salary range is dependent upon experience, education, and location. X-ray technicians in heavily populated metro areas and those with higher levels of training and experience can expect to earn a higher salary than those in other areas. It is possible to negotiate salary within a certain range.
X Ray Technician Work Environment
X-ray technicians are typically employed on a full-time basis. Radiologic technicians work at either hospitals or medical clinics in a radiology room. As x-ray technicians are responsible for positioning patients properly for the x-rays, this can be a physically demanding position. Some patients, such as those with disabilities, may need more assistance than others. A good deal of the day is spent on the feet, so stamina and good physical health are important for success. While most x-ray technicians are employed on a full-time basis, they can be expected to be on call for emergencies after hours, as injuries can occur at any time.
One aspect of the work environment is the use of radiation. Shielding and diagnostic technologies, as well as other processes have minimized the potential risk to x-ray technicians.
What is an X-ray?
X-rays are a minimally invasive diagnostic procedure used by physicians and other health care providers to look at internal organs, primarily bones, to determine injury or disease. X-ray equipment is essentially a camera that uses x-rays, rather than light to take a picture. The x-ray technician positions the patient and the equipment to best frame the picture for other medical personnel. When the machine is activated, electromagnetic rays are directed at the body. Different parts of the body absorb the rays in varying degrees, and this is projected on to the film.
Similar fields to X Ray Tech
Other diagnostic-related careers paths include MRI technicians, ultrasound technicians, and phlebotomy. All of the fields have similar training programs, in terms of possible length and cost, as an x ray technician program.
For someone looking to take advantage of the growth in the health care field, without becoming a nurse or physician, becoming an x ray technician or training for a similar position is an excellent, long-term career decision.