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Radiation therapists are responsible for operating the equipment that is used to administer radiation treatments to patients with cancer. If you're interested in learning about how to become a radiation therapist in Montana and radiation therapy programs in Montana, you should first understand the responsibilities involved with this profession. Radiation therapists maintain the equipment that is used for radiation therapy. This usually involves the use of linear accelerators. The therapist must x-ray the area to identify the appropriate location for treatment, explain the procedure to the patient, prepare him or her, and conduct treatment. It is important that the therapist properly monitor and record all treatment sessions.
Though some schools offer specialized programs for radiation therapy, there are no such programs in the state of Montana. Students here can prepare for a bachelor's degree in radiation therapy by obtaining an associate's degree in radiologic technology. This two-year program will provide students with general education and a solid foundation in radiology. Students learn how to operate x-rays, CT scans, and digital radiography. Upon completion of one of these programs, the student will be equipped to become a radiologic technologist. He or she will also have a strong educational foundation for pursuing a radiation therapy program out of state.
The University of Montana offers a radiologic technology program that lasts for 5 semesters. This program includes clinical and didactic instruction and includes a clinical rotation over the summer lasting ten weeks. Flathead Valley Community College also offers a similar 5 semester course which includes a summer rotation. Prerequisites for this program include college writing, human anatomy and physiology I and II, and intermediate algebra. Completing one of these programs in Montana and obtaining an associate of applied science degree before going for a bachelor's will limit the costs for out of school education for students who are interested in becoming a radiation therapist.
Montana has several great employment opportunities for radiation therapists. This state has the fifth-highest concentration of radiation therapists in the United States according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Montana has 0.2 radiation therapists per thousand jobs in the state. Billings, MT has the fourth-highest concentration of radiation therapists in the country with 0.48 of these health professionals per thousand total jobs. The mean annual wage for radiation therapists in Montana is $79,910 as of May 2011. Those with earnings in the top ten percent make more than $90,310 while those with earnings in the bottom ten percent earn less than $29,170.