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The Essentials to Becoming an X-Ray Technician



The x-ray is one of the most important advances in medical technology. Whenever there is a broken limb, the possibility of a fracture, or children who have swallowed something they shouldn’t, it’s the job of the x-ray technician to take the pictures that reveal the answer. Hospitals are their biggest employers, but more specialized facilities such as urgent-care clinics are hiring qualified x-ray technicians to assist with patients and save many of them a trip to the emergency room.

Prerequisites for X-Ray Technician

X-ray technicians use specialized equipment to create pictures of people’s skeletal structure, helping doctors analyze the problem and recommend proper treatment. There are several prerequisites for x-ray technicians that often begin in high school. Students wishing to pursue this career should have very strong math and science skills. Some school systems offer health care classes are part of their vocational training programs, and if possible future radiographers should take these as well.

After high school, most people wishing to become x-ray technicians attend community college. Most training programs can be finished in two years, though some certificate programs take only one year. Bachelor’s degrees are offered in sonography, but few people go this route. Whichever is chosen, students will find a demanding course of study ahead of them to achieve their goal.

Students who study radiology can expect to take a variety of general education subjects such as English, public speaking, and psychology. Because they will be working with patients who may be upset and frightened, being able to have good communication skills and understand how patients are feeling is almost as vital as the technical skills needed to take the x-rays.

In addition to the general education subjects, students in these programs take a heavy dose of specialized radiology classes. Classes taken can include:

It’s also very important to have a thorough understanding of human anatomy and physiology in this profession. Technicians must know how to properly set up imaging equipment and position patients to take accurate pictures for doctors to use in diagnosing.

Students also go through a semester-long internship in most programs. This is an opportunity to gain invaluable experience while also making contacts that could lead to future employment. It’s also critical to make sure the radiology program at the school is properly accredited. Completing a program that is not properly accredited all but guarantees the student being unable to find employment upon graduation. After completing an accredited program, becoming certified is also important to landing a great job. It’s not required, but many hospitals and other facilities will only hire certified technicians.

Job Requirements for X-Ray Technician

To be a successful x-ray technician there are many job requirements that must be met. One of the most important is being able to provide a sense of security for patients. Because they are in very vulnerable physical states when needing imaging procedures, x-ray technicians need to be very confident in their skills and convey that confidence to patients. Because they will be working with many other health professionals like doctors and nurses, technicians must be good working as part of a team. The ability to pay close attention to detail while managing complicated equipment is also essential.

After some years of experience, radiologic technologists can advance to supervisory positions within an imaging department where they can supervise other technicians. They may also have opportunities to teach radiology at local community colleges and vocational schools. Learning other specialized skills within the imaging department is also a requirement for x-ray technicians. Training programs in CT or MRI technology allow x-ray technicians to upgrade their skills. Every two years, technicians must complete 24 hours of continuing education to stay certified. The certification is done through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.

Job Outlook

X-ray technicians will experience rapid job growth over the next decade. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 28% growth per year through 2020. Salaries are great, with experienced employees who graduated from accredited two-year programs making more than $50,000 per year. With health care offering a variety of careers with good pay and job security, training to become an x-ray technician is a very smart choice for those looking to help others who are facing difficult circumstances.