An x-ray technician is a well-trained member of the medical community. Like nurses, x-ray technicians can be trained to more than one level. Some technicians are bachelor’s degree holders, while others may possess a certificate or associate degree. The level of education you attain can determine what positions you are qualified for and how much money you earn.
The federal government mandates that all people working with radioactive equipment be properly trained to decrease exposure to radioactivity, which has been linked to cancer. The states decide other licensing requirements for x-ray technicians. Each state differs in their requirements.
To earn a certificate, the minimum requirement to become an x-ray technician, students usually take classes for one to two years. An associate degree generally takes about two years, and a bachelor’s degree is usually earned in four years. These programs often offer training on other diagnostic machinery, such as ultrasound machines, MRIs and mammography. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, students trained to use additional diagnostic tools have a better chance of finding employment.
Most of the jobs for x-ray technicians are in hospitals, but other employment opportunities exist in doctor’s offices and diagnostic imaging centers. The responsibilities of the x-ray technician include preparing the patient for the x-rays, keeping patient records, adjusting and maintaining the equipment.
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There are hazards associated with being an x-ray technician. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, exposure to radiation, standing for long periods of time and assisting disabled or unconscious patients by lifting them are the most dangerous or strenuous parts of the job.
X-ray technicians generally work a usual 40-hour week, but these hours are often at night, on the weekends and during holidays. Part time positions are also available, and many technicians work part-time for more than one employer. The greatest downside to having two jobs is the time and cost of traveling to both jobs.
Jobs for doctors, nurses, x-ray technicians and other medical professionals are expected to grow by 20 percent in the coming years. This is good news for medical workers in an economy that isn’t making it easy for workers in some other industries to find and keep good paying jobs. Another benefit to working in the medical field is the ease of relocating. Experienced workers often find it easy to get work in almost any region of the United States.