Radiologic Technologists (Rad Techs) are an essential part of the Radiology team at any hospital. They support the Radiologists in administering tests to patients on a day-to-day basis. Because they are an integral part of the radiology specialty, they also receive strong compensation for their efforts.
Rad techs employed by Pikeville Medical Center go into the field with an associate’s degree and make a salary of $56,160 + some of the best benefits in the state. That’s half the schooling and higher pay than some healthcare practitioners with a bachelor’s degree! If you’re interested in a job that combines patient care and technology, then becoming a rad tech may be the career path for you.
Here are the six steps you need to know to become a rad tech.
1. Complete the Coursework for an Associate’s Degree
The first step on your path to becoming a rad tech is your formal education.
Before you even get started, you will have to have your high school diploma or GED. Most schools require the completion of specific prerequisites prior to submitting your application to the rad tech program. Other than that, the program you’re interested in usually doesn’t ask for any other experience, which makes it an excellent program for entry-level students interested in going into healthcare.
Most students opt to complete their associate’s degree. This provides faster entry into the field while giving you a comprehensive education. During your degree program, you’ll be provided a solid foundation of science and healthcare-related courses, including but not limited to:
- General Education
- Clinical Skills
During your degree program, you’ll also have the option to complete radiologic specializations. This is not a requirement, but it may be beneficial in the future.
During your two years of the classroom portion of your degree program, you will also be required to complete clinical hours.
2. Complete Your Clinical Hours and Graduate
Accredited rad tech programs will include clinical experience hours. However, how those hours are structured depends on the program you choose to go into and if you complete the program on a full- or part-time schedule.
Some programs build clinical experience credits into each semester, beginning with your first year. Other programs wait to start your clinical credits until year two. While some only build them into the summer terms.
But before you can graduate, you must complete your classwork and clinical competencies. Once you complete both according to your program’s standards, you get to graduate and start on the next part of your journey!
3. Attend a Program That Is Accredited by the Joint Commission on Education in Radiologic Technology (JCERT)
While graduating with your degree is the first step to entering the career field, due to the nature of the career path of the radiologic technologist, this means there is more work to do.
Ideally, the program you just finished is accredited by the Joint Commission on Education for Radiologic Technology. If you complete a JCERT-accredited program, you can then become eligible to sit for the ARRT exam for certification in Radiologic Technology.
To pass the ARRT exam, you have to prove competency in the following:
- Assessing and understanding a diagnosis
- Ability to make decisions, collect info, and interpret data
- Communicating with colleagues and patients
- Completing the physical movements needed to help patients
Everything you learned during your Rad Tech program will have prepared you for this exam. However, make sure you still spend time before the exam studying and preparing.
4. Get State Licensure
Over 75% of states created licensing laws for their radiologic technologists. You’ll need a state license before you can practice at any healthcare facility.
Some states may only require the ARRT exam as a licensure requirement, but the ARRT credential doesn’t mean you’ll be automatically eligible to work there.
However, each state writes its own requirements for rad techs. You may find that you need to take other exams to meet your state’s licensure requirements.
The state of Kentucky not only requires you to be certified with ARRT but also licensed through the Kentucky Board of Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy (KBMIRT). To become licensed with KBMIRT, you must submit an application and be able to provide KMBIRT with all of the documents required, as well as pay the required fee.
If you’re not located in the state of Kentucky, make sure you research what your state requires to be licensed.
5. Find a Job
After completing your rad tech program, passing your exams, and getting licensed, finding a job can be the easiest part.
There are plenty of job boards out there, but don’t forget to check the local hospitals you’ve had your eye on.
When applying for your new position, don’t always assume that your licensure makes you the best fit. Ensure that you read the job description fully to learn precisely what the healthcare provider expects from the position. As you submit your applications, ensure you answer all the questions asked and keep your credentials on hand. You will most likely need the following:
- A copy of your transcripts
- Copies of your certifications
- A copy of your resume
6. Stay Involved in Your Education
You’ve finally done it! You completed your program, you completed your ARRT exam, you’ve been licensed by your state, and you’ve found your dream job! You’ve reached the end of the road, right? Wrong.
Being a rad tech requires you to keep up-to-date with licensure requirements and the latest science.
Your ARRT requires you to keep up with your education with 24 units of continuing education every two years (starting on your birthday). If your state requires you to maintain your ARRT to keep your license, you’ll have to stay up to date with these standards.
So, Are You Ready for Your Career as a Rad Tech?
So, you’ve been looking for a career in healthcare, but you also love tech. Becoming a rad tech sounds like a perfect fit for you. But are you ready to start a career where you’ll not only help people, but you’ll be able to pay your bills?
Being a rad tech isn’t for the faint of heart, but for the right person, it’s the most rewarding career.
Are you interested in learning more about how to find the perfect Rad Tech program for you?
Pikeville Medical Center offers education assistance for students seeking a degree as a Radiologic Technologist, as well as helping you find the program that is the best fit for you!
Interested in Pikeville Medical Center’s available Rad Tech Positions?