Radiography is medical imaging using radiologic materials such as X-rays. In a radiography program, students learn how to use radiologic equipment to take diagnostic images. The program prepares the student in how to use the radiography equipment, how to prepare patients for this imaging, how to protect the patient and others from the radiography emissions, how to record the images for interpretation later, and how to keep detailed patient records. These programs generally run about 2 years in most states. Students are advised to choose an accredited program as those will make licensing and certification easier.
To be admitted to a radiography program, students need to meet the particular programs admission criteria. Generally, a student will need a high school diploma or a GED. The student will need to complete certain college classes before entry. These can include algebra, medical terminology, and biology. An appropriate GPA is expected in college work. Some programs require students to pass a background check, be up to date on vaccinations, and be physically fit.
In a radiography program, students take classes in topics such as basic medical principles, radiographic imaging, human structure/function, radiation protection/biology, radiographic positioning, and clinical practicum. Students will need to complete a certain number of clinical hours before graduation. This practical experience is done under the supervision of a registered radiography professional.
Upon graduation, some states require students to become licensed and/or certified. Certification is available by taking a state exam or by taking an exam with the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. In some states, licensing is also required. Once a student has appropriate licensing and certification, they will find jobs in hospitals, doctors' offices, diagnostic labs, outpatient facilities, and with the government. The projected growth for this field is 28% over the next decade, higher than average. Many radiography technicians work normal hours during the week. Those that work for hospitals may have to work nights and weekends as well.
In 2010, the median salary for a radiography technician was $54,000 per year. The range of salaries went from $36,000 to $76,000. The actual salary will depend on location, experience, and employer.
The field of radiography is expanding as technology advances. Those entering this field will need to keep up to date on their training in order to keep up with the technology changes. Certification and licensing usually require ongoing education.