How to become an X-Ray Technician

What Do X-Ray Technicians Do?

X-ray technicians are health care professionals that use high-level quality technology to visualize inside of the patient’s body. They are essential to help for physicians that want precise insight into the medical condition of a patient and this enables them to provide accurate diagnose of one’s condition and also treatment.  They are not only important help for every physician, but also for every patient that may feel pain because of his injury or illness and often anxiety that follows such situation.

What Does a Job of X-Ray Technician Include?

An x-ray technician is responsible for getting all relevant information from a patient and this includes a medical history and since he is also there to help a patient feel comfortable, he gives answers to his questions and explains all steps of this procedure. He needs to remove patient’s jewelry and any other article x-ray can’t go through.  After that, he helps to place a patient into the needed equipment and he takes into account needed angle and height over the areas of the patient’s body that needs to be radiographed. He also to needs into account preventing too high exposure to x-rays and he achieves this through surrounding radiographed area with devices that will prevent this unnecessary exposure, such as lead shields or he needs to limit x-ray shield. He uses instruments that measure the thickness of the body’s area that needs to be radiographed in order to set appropriate x-ray shield. This protects a patient from ionizing radiation and after that he starts the procedure by following all physician’s orders. They usually specialize in one field, but he can also specialize in two or move fields and such positions are called CT technologist, MR technologist and mammographer.

Needed equipment an x-ray technician has to use is:

  • X-ray machines
  • CT or Computerized tomography –shows a considerable cross section of x rays in a certain area of the body and this makes a three-dimensional image.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-magnetic resonance makes three-dimensional image and unlike CT that uses ionizing x-rays, MRI uses non-ionizing radiation
  • Fluoroscopy –in this procedure, he prepares a contrast medium patient drinks and this enables a radiologist to see body soft tissues.
  • Film and digital mammography -in this process, he uses x-ray of lower amount in order to provide image of the breast

They may also work together with a radiologist. However, it is very important to recognize the difference between x-ray technicians with a radiologist. An x-ray technician has a comprehensive knowledge of a human body and its structure and also possible influences by an injury or disease. However, the one that needs to know how to interpret those images this process provides is a radiologist. One can say that both radiographer (x-ray technician) and a radiologist are an essential part of help a patient needs and these are steps that preceded help a physician provides to a patient.

X-ray technician’s responsibility includes a wide range of task-form preparing a patient for x-ray examination-physically and psychologically to working together with a radiologist and a physician. He also needs to keep records of the patient, maintains the equipment and manages its purchase.

His knowledge of using needed equipment is mandatory and it is essential in getting a proper insight into human body’s condition. It is a proper way to have needed information about injuries or disease and without this process; it is hard to have the whole picture about patient’s medical state and to conduct needed following steps.

Work Environment

X-ray technicians work in health institutions and hospitals.  In this job, physical endurance is very important. Why is this so? Radiographers work on their feet and they also need to be able to lift a patient or turn him in a case when a patient doesn’t have the needed strength to do this on his own. In some cases, they travel to the patient and in such vans, they have needed equipment that enables them to provide the essential part of a patient’s diagnoses. When it comes to instruments a radiographer uses, this includes aprons, gloves, and other shielding equipment, along with the monitoring devices that establish levels of exposure to x rays.

Careers in Radiography

In order to explain x-ray technician position, this article also gives insight into several radiography careers in order to understand their difference.

  • Radiologist MD

Radiologists are physicians that have the skills to interpret given radiographed images and to also diagnose a patient’s condition. They use all mentioned techniques, such as x-rays, CT scans, MRI, mammography and fluoroscopy and based on this, they provide interpretations of injury or disease.

  • Radiology technologist

Radiology technologists or radiographers create medical images based on x-rays, mammography and also MRI. This is interpreted by a radiologist and physicians that as mentioned are those that diagnose and interpret these reports.

It is also important to say that needed education for this position requires much less education and training than for a radiologist. This requires Associate’s degree (2 years) or a Bachelor’s degree (4 years) and in many states, it requires certification and/ or a license.

  • MRI Technician

MRI technician’s duties include managing MR scanner and as a result, 2-3 dimension map of soft tissues is provided. Based on this, physicians can make diagnose and also the following treatments for that condition. MRI technician enter needed patient’s information and operate a magnetic resonance scanner to obtain two- or three-dimensional maps of various tissue types within the patient’s body that are used by physicians in the diagnosis and treatment of pathologies. After entering and monitoring the patient’s data, the MRI tech uses the image from the disk in order to convert it to the film used for analyzing conducted by the physician. Their median salary is 66,547 and this requires a Bachelor’s degree and minimum 2 years of experience, along with the  American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) registration.

  • CT Technician

CT tech’s responsibilities include producing of computerized topographic scans of radiographer parts of a human body. This refers to obstetric, gynecological scans, but also ultrasounds and retroperitoneal scans that result with 3-dimenzional images. Their median average pay is $60,357 and this position requires holding high school diploma, tech training, ARRT registration and also two years of experience.

How to Become an X-Ray Technician

In order to become a radiographer, this preparation has its source in a high school. What does this mean? Those that want to become x-ray technicians, they can focus on taking biology, anatomy and other subjects that can help them to understand the structure of a human body. Besides taking such subjects in high school that can provide them an important basis for a future development in radiography, they have several options. One can focus on taking courses in length of 6, 21-24 months, associate degrees that last for 2 years and a Bachelor’s degree that takes 4 years. Their average salary is 57, 510 and this depends on the experience and location. Although they are usually specialized in one area, for those that are specialized in 2 or more, they always have more opportunities for professional growth.

The training courses are usually the best choice for those that already have expertise in this field and have the needed knowledge and this can help a candidate to achieve a further professional growth in this career. However, although some of these courses do last for 6 months, in order for x-ray technician to hold AART certification (The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists), he needs to have Associate’s Degree that will be explained in the next section.

When it comes to Associate degree, one can take it at a community college, but also at volunteer centers and technical schools. However, it has to be accredited in order for a candidate to be eligible for AART. This is something that can help a person to have needed knowledge and be able to provide the high-level quality work performance. This is definitely one form of education that is the right choice for those that want to be x-ray technicians. Many states also require radiographers to finish the program that will be accredited by JRCERT (Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology)

A Bachelor’s degree may seem like a form of education that brings a great time gap between the beginning of education and starting a job since it takes 4 years to complete. On the other hand, this is the best way to comprehend with essential knowledge regarding handling other radiography technology, such as CT and MRI. This provides a well-rounded knowledge and it gives a strong basis for progressing and getting a promotion at a workplace.


Licensing is obligatory in most all US states. One needs to pass all requirements when it comes to education and also to pass the certification exam.


Certification requires a candidate not to have any criminal history and after this check, he also needs to pass a training that shows his clinical experience. Beside this, he needs to take a test that establishes that he has needed knowledge when it comes to radiography procedures. In a case of state licensing, it is also required for him to take a test that establishes his knowledge shown in practice and this ensures that he has mastered needed skills for operations that have to be conducted on radiography equipment.


After certification with AART, one has to maintain yearly registration. He needs to respects all ARRT ethical guidelines and to continue with education classes. Continuing this education process is not requires in all, but it is required in some states in order to keep the license.

In order to provide the most precise explanation of requirements needed for certification and registration, this article also gives insight into all requirements and regulative by AART.

The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (AART)

The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists establishes qualifications needed for a career in the radiography. ARRT evaluates do candidates meet needed qualifications for certification and registration in order for them to be eligible for a job position in this industry. The candidates that meet such requirements are eligible or AART registration and they can hold this registration as long as they meet initially presented conditions. Therefore, they have to meet AART’s ethical code, needed educational background and also examination. This examination is developed by AART after it has been established that the candidates meet all other requirements for that specific area in the radiography field.

  • Radiography

AARS requirements refer to successful completion of the educational program that provided them essential knowledge and skills for a particular profession in the radiography. Beside the educational program, they also have to complete the ARRT Radiography Didactic and Clinical Competency Requirements. Requirements also depend on the graduate year and for those that haven’t graduated by 1st January in 2015, they need to have Associate’s, and a Bachelor’s or Graduate degree from an institution accredited by AART.  However, this degree doesn’t have to be related to the radiology since one can graduate in some other field prior starting the education program in the radiology or even after graduation from radiology program. It is important to state that it needs to be awarded before one can be eligible for the AART examination. For all of those that completed radiography program before 2013, they can have this AART examination within 5 years from completing the education in radiography. For those that have completed this program after 2012, they have 3 years from completing radiography program in order to be eligible for AART examination.

  • Computerized Tomography (CT)

The candidates need to have certification and to be registered in radiography (or radiation therapy  in the nuclear medicine technology by AART or the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB). They also need to always maintain the certification and registration. Before a candidate can submit the application for certification and registration, he also needs to complete clinical experience requirements in duration of 24 months. It is important to complete needed documentation 16 hours after completed education at the latest.

  • Magnetic Resonace Imaging (MRI)

In order for a candidate to be eligible for a career in MRI radiography, he needs to meet the Professional Education Requirement for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. He can achieve this through receiving certification and registration in radiography or radiation therapy by the ARRT. The other option is to be certified and registered in nuclear medicine technology by ARRT or the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB). The third option is to have certification and registration in sonography by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Zoography (ARDMS). Beside this, it is mandatory to maintain mentioned certification and registration. Before submitting the application for certificate and registration, he must document that he finished the ARRT Clinical Experience Requirements in Magnetic Resonance Imaging during the period of 1 year. He has 16 hours after completion of the mentioned program to document this.

  • Mammography

In order for a candidate to be eligible for certification and registration in mammography, he has to be certified and registered in radiography by the ARRT and he needs to maintain needed criteria for certification and registration in radiography. Before he submits the application for certification and registration, he also needs to document that he finished the ARRT Clinical Experience Requirements in Mammography that lasts for 1 year. He has 16 hours after completion this period of 24 months to document it.

X-Ray Technician Training Programs

Since this article provided a general insight into ways how to become a radiographer, now we can focus on available training programs one can attend in order to achieve this goal.

Some of the accredited training programs are the following:

  • University of North Carolina

Chapel Hill, North Carlina

(919) 966-5147

This university was founded in early 1776 and since then it has only grown. The multi-campus university now has almost 225,000 students in 16 campuses and this is a great way for one to master required knowledge needed to be the radiology technician.

  • Weber University

Ogden, Utah

(801) 626-7156

Weber University provides a comprehensive program that enables every student to gain needed knowledge a medical professional in the radiography needs. In this way, one can see for himself that this program presents a valuable combination of science, clinical experience, professional skills and knowledge that helps him to gain needed skills to be able to provide the best care. Their health care programs are accredited by Clinical Laboratory Sciences (National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science), Dental Hygiene (American Dental Association), Emergency Care & Rescue (Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the EMS Professions), Health Administrative Services (Association of University Programs in Health Administration), Health Information Management, Health Information Technology (Commission on Accreditation of Health Informatics and Information Management) and others.

  • St Luke’s College

Sioux City, Iowa

(712) 279-3734

St Luke’s College is a  non-profit institution that has more than 2,800 alumni employed in the healthcare industry. They were found in 1890 and are accredited by Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JCERT), National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) and several other recognizable agencies. Ideal balance between theoretical knowledge and needed practice is something their students always get and this program is also a valuable basis for a successful career in the radiography.

  • Misericordia University

Dallas, Pennsylvania

(570) 674-6438

Misericordia University was founded in 1924 and with its affiliation with Roman Catholic Church and its 123 acres campus in Dallas, Pennsylvania. Their health care programs are one of the most popular and the fact that in 2013/2014, even 54 % of graduates received degrees in this field speaks enough. Even 99 % or their students receive financial aid and they are fully recognized by respectable agencies, such as Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education, Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education, American Physical Therapy Association, Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, One DuPont Circle and several others.

X-Ray Technician Salary

The median page for x-ray technciians in the US is 55, 870 $. Of course, this pay rate depends on the level of a radiographer (entry, medium or high level experienced) and also from the state. In the following sections are presented pay artes for this position in several states.


Median salary: 66,900
Entry level: 49,700
Top level: 92,400


Median salary: 65,600<
Entry level: 48,500
Top level: 88, 500


Median salary: 72,700
Entry level: 41, 100
Top level: 110,200


Median salary: 50, 400
Entry level: 39,100
Top level: 69, 800


Median salary: 62, 500
Entry level: 43,300
Top level: 93, 700


Median salary: 51, 300
Entry level:  37,000
Top level: 73,200


Median salary: 51,000
Entry level: 39,400
Top level: 70,700


Median salary: 51, 200
Entry level: 39,700
Top level: 74,000


Median salary: 59,900
Entry level:  41,700
Top level: 81, 700


Median salary: 59,000
Entry level:  40,900
Top level: 85, 500

New Mexico

Median salary: 56,800
Entry level: 42,300
Top level: 75,900

North Dakota

Median salary: 47,800
Entry level:  35,000
Top level: 61,200

South Dakota

Median salary: 45,700
Entry level: 32,400
Top level: 61,000


Median salary: 49,300
Entry level: 35,800
Top level: 67,700


Median salary: 48,100
Entry level: 35,800
Top level: 64, 000


Median salary: 49,400
Entry level: 35,300
Top level: 71,200


Median salary: 54,200
Entry level: 35,400
Top level: 74, 700


Median salary: 63,000
Entry level: 45,300
Top level: 79,900


Median salary: 47,600
Entry level: 34,900
Top level: 63,200


Median salary: 50,100
Entry level:  35,300
Top level: 71, 000


Median salary: 45,100
Entry level:  31,900
Top level: 64, 400


Median salary: 47,200
Entry level:  32,500
Top level: 65,100


Median salary: 54,000
Entry level: 40,600
Top level: 72, 100


Median salary: 59,000
Entry level:  36,500
Top level: 84,600


Median salary: 45,900
Entry level:  33,200
Top level: 62, 100


Median salary: 52,400
Entry level:  39,000
Top level: 70, 200


Median salary: 52,400
Entry level:  39,200
Top level: 73, 300

Job Outlook

It is considered that job outlook for x-ray technician position is very high, especially with taking into account that their number in the US will increase 28 % by the end of 2020. With an average salary of 56, 450 $ on a yearly basis and median earnings of 27, 14 per hour, this is one of the most profitable health care professions.


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