How to Become a Radiographer – How long does it take to become a Radiographer?

Radiographer holding x-ray film

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Radiography is a significant medical field that continues to be in high demand worldwide, and deciding to pursue a career in it is a worthwhile and noble decision. Therefore, in this article, I will talk to you about everything you need to know about becoming a radiographer. 

What Is the Educational Path to Becoming a Radiographer?

The first thing you should know here is that there are primarily two paths to becoming a radiographer. They include:

  • An associate degree 
  • A bachelor’s degree

Associate degree

An associate degree is the most common path, and it involves a 2-year degree from a registered and accredited college. This degree usually involves courses in physiology, anatomy, patient care, radiation physics and protection, image evaluation, and pathology. There is also clinical training that gives you a hands-on experience in the field. Many people opt for this path because it takes just two years to complete, and you can begin practising as a radiographer.

Bachelor’s degree 

A bachelor’s degree in radiography or a related course is another way to become a radiographer. A bachelor’s degree takes four years to complete. The coursework for a bachelor’s degree program typically includes biology, anatomy, imaging technology, physics, and radiation safety. There are also practical, hands-on classes. 

Certifications and Licenses Involved with Becoming a Radiographer

In many states, you will be required to have a certificate or license before you can practice as a radiographer. The requirements for certification are that you must have completed your education from a registered institution, and you must pass a certification examination, usually from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).

Therefore, after your bachelor’s or associate’s degree, you will need to take a certification exam with the ARRT. The ARRT offers certification in over 13 specialties, apart from radiography, including but not limited to:

  • Bone Densitometry 
  • Breast Sonography 
  • Radiation Therapy 
  • Cardiac Interventional Radiography (CI) 
  • Vascular Sonography (VS) 

Furthermore, after getting the ARRT’s certification, Continuing Education (CE) is needed for you to maintain the credentials. The ARRT specifies the Continuing Education requirements in detail, and you can access them here 

Essential Tips for Passing the ARRT Certification Exams

The ARRT certification is a critical exam; therefore, it is crucial that you do very well at it. I have compiled some essential tips that will enable you to do well in this exam. They include:

  • Understand the format and specifications of the exam 
  • Create a schedule for studying 
  • Choose a method that works best for you
  • Do a practice test 

You can access a comprehensive guide on how to pass ARRT exams here.

What Does a Radiographer Do?

A radiographer is an allied health professional that uses equipment such as an X-ray machine or MRI scan to create high-quality medical images of internal body parts. These images are used to diagnose an individual with an illness or disease. Therefore, if you have ever gotten an X-ray or a mammogram, the individual who helped you create that image is a radiographer. 

Apart from creating medical images, some other roles and responsibilities of a radiographer include the following:

  • Prepare patients for imaging by explaining what they need to do to be in the appropriate position.
  • Assist a radiologist during the course of a medical procedure. 

You should also note that some radiographers may take on more specific tasks based on the description of the jobs they are taking on. 

What Do Radiographers Earn?

According to Zip Recruiter, the average salary of a radiographer is $79,073 per annum ($38 per hour). However, the majority of radiographers across various states earn between $54,000 and $101,000 every year. 

Furthermore, it is essential to note that you may earn far above or below these ranges based on specialization, skills, and even location. Generally, the highest a radiographer may make is about $131,000 per hour, while the lowest a radiographer may earn is about $27,000.

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Radiographer 

Is It Hard To Become a Radiographer?

Becoming a radiographer requires effort, irrespective of the path that you take. Whether it is 2-years in an associate degree or 4-years in a bachelor’s program, you will be required to study and learn a lot under some pressure. Therefore, we can say that becoming a radiographer is not a leisurely activity. Irrespective of this, several people have gone through this and come out fine. So, if you put in the required work, you will be just fine. 

What Are the Pros and Cons of a Career as a Radiographer?

Every path has its pros and cons, including radiography. Some of the pros of a career include: 

  • It is in high demand 

You will be hard-pressed not to get a job as a radiographer because of the demand for specialists in medical imaging in the United States and worldwide. 

  •  It pays well 

This is another significant benefit of this career path. The pay across the United States and worldwide is pretty decent. Furthermore, you can continually advance and increase your earning power when you specialize. 

  • Flexibility and Options 

As a radiographer, you have so many different roles and institutions that you can work with. You can work with a hospital, imaging clinic, or laboratory. This makes it easy to choose a job that best suits the life that you want to live. 

On the other hand, some of the cons of a career in radiography include the following:

  • A demanding schedule

Irrespective of where you work, the schedule for radiography is usually demanding and filled with long hours of work and effort. Some roles may even require working all night and on weekends. 

  • Physically tasking 

Another fact is that radiographers are usually on their feet for most of their work, either standing or moving around. This typically means a lot of stress on the body. 

  • Not recognized 

Typically, radiography, despite being very important, is in the background. They do not get much applause; sometimes, they are treated as second-class citizens with hospital walls.