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Working as a Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist

What Does a Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist Do

Radiologic technologists, also known as radiographers, perform diagnostic imaging examinations, such as x rays, on patients. MRI technologists operate magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners to create diagnostic images. 

Duties

Radiologic and MRI technologists typically do the following:

  • Adjust and maintain imaging equipment
  • Precisely follow orders from physicians on what areas of the body to image
  • Prepare patients for procedures, including taking a medical history and answering questions about the procedure
  • Protect the patient by shielding exposed areas that do not need to be imaged
  • Position the patient and the equipment in order to get the correct image
  • Operate the computerized equipment to take the images
  • Work with physicians to evaluate the images and to determine whether additional images need to be taken
  • Keep detailed patient records

Healthcare professionals use many types of equipment to diagnose patients. Radiologic technologists specialize in x-ray and computed tomography (CT) imaging. Some radiologic technologists prepare a mixture for the patient to drink that allows soft tissue to be viewed on the images that the radiologist reviews.

Radiologic technologists might also specialize in mammography. Mammographers use low-dose x-ray systems to produce images of the breast. Technologists may be certified in multiple specialties.

MRI technologists specialize in magnetic resonance imaging scanners. They inject patients with contrast dyes so that the images will show up on the scanner. The scanners use magnetic fields in combination with the contrast agent to produce images that a physician can use to diagnose medical problems.

Healthcare professionals who specialize in other diagnostic equipment include nuclear medicine technologists and diagnostic medical sonographers, and cardiovascular technologists and technicians, including vascular technologists.

How To Become a Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist

Radiologic technologists and MRI technologists typically need an associate’s degree. Many MRI technologists start out as radiologic technologists and specialize later in their career. Radiologic technologists must be licensed or certified in most states. Few states license MRI technologists. Employers typically require or prefer prospective technologists to be certified even if the state does not require it.

Education

An associate’s degree is the most common educational requirement for radiologic and MRI technologists. There also are postsecondary education programs that lead to graduate certificates or bachelor’s degrees. Education programs typically include both classroom study and clinical work. Coursework includes anatomy, pathology, patient care, radiation physics and protection, and image evaluation.

The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) accredits programs in radiography. Completing an accredited program is required for licensure in some states.

High school students who are interested in radiologic or MRI technology should take courses that focus on math and science, such as anatomy, biology, chemistry, physiology, and physics. 

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

MRI technologists typically have less than 5 years of work experience as radiologic technologists.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Radiologic technologists must be licensed or certified in most states. Few states license MRI technologists. Requirements vary by state.

To become licensed, technologists must usually graduate from an accredited program, and pass a certification exam from the state or obtain a certification from a certifying body. Certifications for radiologic technologists are available from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Certifications for MRI technologists are available from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) and from the American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists (ARMRIT). For specific licensure requirements for radiologic technologists and MRI technologists, contact the state’s health board.

Employers typically require or prefer prospective technologists to be certified even if the state does not require it.

Important Qualities

Detail oriented. Radiologic and MRI technologists must follow exact instructions to get the images needed for diagnoses.

Interpersonal skills. Radiologic and MRI technologists work closely with patients who may be in extreme pain or mentally stressed. Technologists must be able to put the patient at ease to get usable images.

Math skills. Radiologic and MRI technologists may need to calculate and mix the right doses of chemicals used in imaging procedures.

Physical stamina. Radiologic and MRI technologists often work on their feet for long periods during their shift and they must be able to lift and move patients who need assistance.

Technical skills. Radiologic and MRI technologists must understand how to operate complex machinery.

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Average Salary$50,264
Job Growth Rate9%

Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist Jobs

Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist Career Paths

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Average Salary for a Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist

Diagnostic Radiologic Technologists in America make an average salary of $50,264 per year or $24 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $69,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $36,000 per year.
Average Salary
$50,264

Best Paying Cities

City
Average Salary
Redding, CA
Salary Range77k - 120k$96k$96,389
Baltimore, MD
Salary Range60k - 94k$76k$75,762
Phoenix, AZ
Salary Range52k - 90k$69k$68,974
Farmington, CT
Salary Range55k - 82k$67k$67,457
Oklahoma City, OK
Salary Range41k - 76k$57k$56,824
Santa Fe, NM
Salary Range41k - 73k$55k$54,911
$33k
$120k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist
Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist
Indian Health Service
Indian Health Service
11/22/2020
11/22/2020
$34,98811/22/2020
$34,988
Diagnostic Radiologic Technician/Technologist
Diagnostic Radiologic Technician/Technologist
Indian Health Service
Indian Health Service
11/22/2020
11/22/2020
$38,14511/22/2020
$38,145
Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist
Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist
Indian Health Service
Indian Health Service
11/22/2020
11/22/2020
$34,91611/22/2020
$34,916
Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist
Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist
Indian Health Service
Indian Health Service
11/22/2020
11/22/2020
$34,98811/22/2020
$34,988
Supervisory Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist
Supervisory Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist
Indian Health Service
Indian Health Service
11/18/2020
11/18/2020
$64,00911/18/2020
$64,009
See More Recent Salaries

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Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist Demographics

Gender

female

57.0 %

male

38.7 %

unknown

4.3 %

Ethnicity

White

69.0 %

Hispanic or Latino

12.7 %

Black or African American

7.9 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

47.4 %

French

10.5 %

Hindi

10.5 %
See More Demographics

Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist Education

Degrees

Associate

50.2 %

Bachelors

22.2 %

Certificate

17.0 %

Top Colleges for Diagnostic Radiologic Technologists

1. Texas A&M University

College Station, TX

In-State Tuition
$11,870
Enrollment
53,194

2. Siena Heights University

Adrian, MI

In-State Tuition
$27,124
Enrollment
2,035

3. Duke University

Durham, NC

In-State Tuition
$55,695
Enrollment
6,596

4. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI

In-State Tuition
$15,262
Enrollment
30,079

5. Yale University

New Haven, CT

In-State Tuition
$53,430
Enrollment
5,963

6. Cornell University

Ithaca, NY

In-State Tuition
$55,188
Enrollment
15,105

7. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC

In-State Tuition
$8,987
Enrollment
18,946

8. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

9. Georgetown University

Washington, DC

In-State Tuition
$54,104
Enrollment
7,089

10. Vanderbilt University

Nashville, TN

In-State Tuition
$49,816
Enrollment
6,840
See More Education Info

Entry Level Jobs For Becoming A Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist

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Top Skills For a Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 12.6% of diagnostic radiologic technologists listed technologist on their resume, but soft skills such as technical skills and math skills are important as well.

Best States For a Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a diagnostic radiologic technologist. The best states for people in this position are California, Alaska, Maryland, and Washington. Diagnostic radiologic technologists make the most in California with an average salary of $93,220. Whereas in Alaska and Maryland, they would average $75,903 and $75,264, respectively. While diagnostic radiologic technologists would only make an average of $74,892 in Washington, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Oregon

Total Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist Jobs:
125
Highest 10% Earn:
$108,000
Location Quotient:
1.21
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Alaska

Total Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist Jobs:
29
Highest 10% Earn:
$90,000
Location Quotient:
1.98
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Arizona

Total Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist Jobs:
239
Highest 10% Earn:
$112,000
Location Quotient:
1.57
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist Employers

1. Indian Health Service
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$55,037
Diagnostic Radiologic Technologists Hired: 
106+
2. United States Army
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$51,026
Diagnostic Radiologic Technologists Hired: 
20+
3. Alderman Library
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$46,320
Diagnostic Radiologic Technologists Hired: 
8+
4. Centura Health
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$45,464
Diagnostic Radiologic Technologists Hired: 
7+
5. Kaiser Permanente
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$48,146
Diagnostic Radiologic Technologists Hired: 
6+
6. Community Medical Centers
4.2
Avg. Salary: 
$44,796
Diagnostic Radiologic Technologists Hired: 
5+

Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist Videos

Recently Added Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist Jobs

Updated October 2, 2020