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Become A Nuclear Medicine Technologist

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Working As A Nuclear Medicine Technologist

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Getting Information
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Stressful

  • Make Decisions

  • $91,458

    Average Salary

What Does A Nuclear Medicine Technologist Do

Nuclear medicine technologists operate equipment that creates images of areas of a patient’s body. They prepare radioactive drugs and administer them to patients. The radioactive drugs cause abnormal areas of the body to appear different from normal areas in the images. 

Duties

Nuclear medicine technologists typically do the following:

  • Explain imaging procedures to the patient and answer questions
  • Follow safety procedures to protect themselves and the patient from unnecessary radiation exposure
  • Examine machines to ensure that they are working properly
  • Prepare radioactive drugs and administer them to the patient
  • Monitor the patient to check for unusual reactions to the drugs
  • Operate equipment that creates images of areas in the body, such as images of organs
  • Keep detailed records of procedures
  • Follow radiation disposal and safety procedures

Radioactive drugs, known as radiopharmaceuticals, give off radiation, allowing special scanners to monitor tissue and organ functions. Abnormal areas show higher-than-expected or lower-than-expected concentrations of radioactivity. Physicians and surgeons then interpret the images to help diagnose the patient’s condition. For example, tumors can be seen in organs during a scan because of their concentration of the radioactive drugs.

After graduation from an accredited program, a technologist can choose to specialize in positron emission tomography (PET) or nuclear cardiology. PET uses a machine that creates a three-dimensional image of a part of the body, such as the brain. Nuclear cardiology uses radioactive drugs to obtain images of the heart. Patients may exercise during the imaging process while the technologist creates images of the heart and blood flow.

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How To Become A Nuclear Medicine Technologist

Nuclear medicine technologists typically need an associate’s degree from an accredited nuclear medicine technology program. Technologists must be licensed in about one half of the states; requirements vary by state.

Education

Nuclear medicine technologists typically need an associate’s degree in nuclear medicine technology. Bachelor’s degrees are also common. Some technologists become qualified by completing an associate’s or a bachelor's degree program in a related health field, such as radiologic technology or nursing, and then completing a 12-month certificate program in nuclear medicine technology.

Nuclear medicine technology programs often include courses in human anatomy and physiology, physics, chemistry, radioactive drugs, and computer science. In addition, these programs include clinical experience—practice under the supervision of a certified nuclear medicine technologist and a physician or surgeon who specializes in nuclear medicine.

The Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology accredits nuclear medicine programs. Graduating from an accredited program may be required for licensure or by an employer.

High school students who are interested in nuclear medicine technology should take courses in math and science, such as biology, chemistry, anatomy, and physics.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

As of 2015, about half of all states required nuclear medicine technologists to be licensed. Requirements vary by state. For specific requirements, contact the state’s health board.

Most nuclear medicine technologists become certified. Although certification is not required for a license, it fulfills most of the requirements for state licensure.

Some employers require certification, regardless of state regulations. Certification usually involves graduating from an accredited nuclear medicine technology program. Certification is available from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) and the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB).

In addition to receiving general certification, technologists can earn specialty certifications that show their proficiency in specific procedures or on certain equipment. A technologist can earn certification in positron emission tomography (PET), nuclear cardiology (NCT), or computed tomography (CT). The NMTCB offers NCT, PET, and CT certification exams.

Important Qualities

Ability to use technology. Nuclear medicine technologists work with computers and large pieces of technological equipment and must be comfortable operating them.

Analytical skills. Nuclear medicine technologists must understand anatomy, physiology, and other sciences and be able to calculate accurate dosages.

Compassion. Nuclear medicine technologists must be able to reassure and calm patients who are under physical and emotional stress.

Detail oriented. Nuclear medicine technologists must follow exact instructions to make sure that the correct dosage is given and that the patient is not overexposed to radiation.

Interpersonal skills. Nuclear medicine technologists interact with patients and often work as part of a team. They must be able to follow instructions from a supervising physician.

Physical stamina. Nuclear medicine technologists must stand for long periods and be able to lift and move patients who need help.

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Do you work as a Nuclear Medicine Technologist?

Nuclear Medicine Technologist Jobs

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Average Length of Employment
Top Employers Before
Internship 3.9%
Volunteer 3.1%
Manager 2.6%
Supervisor 2.1%
Top Employers After
Supervisor 2.8%
Manager 2.7%
Volunteer 1.9%

Do you work as a Nuclear Medicine Technologist?

Nuclear Medicine Technologist Demographics

Gender

Female

53.5%

Male

44.5%

Unknown

2.0%
Ethnicity

White

60.1%

Hispanic or Latino

14.9%

Black or African American

11.5%

Asian

9.4%

Unknown

4.1%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

61.8%

French

6.5%

Russian

4.1%

Hindi

3.3%

Mandarin

3.3%

Chinese

2.4%

German

2.4%

Romanian

1.6%

Ukrainian

1.6%

Tagalog

1.6%

Italian

1.6%

Portuguese

1.6%

Urdu

1.6%

Arabic

1.6%

Swedish

0.8%

Gujarati

0.8%

Korean

0.8%

Lithuanian

0.8%

Malay

0.8%

Norwegian

0.8%
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Nuclear Medicine Technologist Education

Schools

Ferris State University

14.1%

University of Findlay

11.3%

Keiser University

8.5%

Community College of Allegheny County

7.2%

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

4.9%

Hillsborough Community College

4.7%

University of the Incarnate Word

4.6%

University of Phoenix

4.2%

Southeast Technical Institute

3.8%

Broward College

3.8%

Gateway Community College

3.6%

Houston Community College

3.6%

University of Alabama at Birmingham

3.4%

Amarillo College

3.4%

Wheeling Jesuit University

3.3%

Delaware Technical and Community College

3.3%

Naval School of Health Sciences

3.1%

Molloy College

3.1%

Santa Fe College

3.1%

Triton College

3.1%
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Majors

Nuclear And Industrial Radiologic Technologies

38.2%

Medicine

24.7%

Medical Technician

8.6%

Business

7.0%

Health Care Administration

3.6%

Nursing

2.8%

Biology

2.7%

Health Sciences And Services

2.2%

Veterinary Science

1.6%

Physician Assistant

1.0%

Management

0.9%

Health/Medical Preparatory Programs

0.9%

Computer Science

0.8%

Clinical Psychology

0.8%

Chemistry

0.8%

Psychology

0.8%

Education

0.7%

Medical Assisting Services

0.7%

Computer Information Systems

0.6%

Public Health

0.6%
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Degrees

Bachelors

32.7%

Associate

25.4%

Other

16.0%

Certificate

12.5%

Masters

11.3%

Diploma

1.0%

Doctorate

0.9%

License

0.2%
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Real Nuclear Medicine Technologist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Nuclear Medicine Technologist Southern Ocean County Hospital Manahawkin, NJ Feb 02, 2010 $119,000
Nuclear Medicine Technologists Exponential Group Inc. Livingston, NJ Jul 06, 2012 $100,776 -
$120,000
Nuclear Medicine Technologist Meridian Hospitals Corporation Manahawkin, NJ Feb 02, 2013 $100,000
Nuclear Medicine Technologist Vassar Brothers Medical Center Poughkeepsie, NY Jan 11, 2013 $95,752
Nuclear Medicine Technologist Thomas Jefferson University Hospital Philadelphia, PA Jan 02, 2015 $88,545
Nuclear Medicine Technologist Thomas Jefferson University Hospital Philadelphia, PA Feb 01, 2015 $88,545
Nuclear Medicine Technologist Vassar Brothers Medical Center Poughkeepsie, NY Jan 11, 2010 $84,074
Nuclear Medicine Technologist 3M Technology Inc. Morganville, NJ Aug 11, 2010 $83,668 -
$85,567
Nuclear Medicine Technologist Thomas Jefferson University Hospital Philadelphia, PA Feb 01, 2012 $81,606
Nuclear Medicine Technologiest Vassar Brothers Medical Center Poughkeepsie, NY Jan 11, 2010 $80,850 -
$86,000
Nuclear Medicine Technologist Bon Secours Baltimore Health System Baltimore, MD Feb 17, 2010 $80,496 -
$84,670
Nuclear Medicine Technologist Saint Margaret Mercy Healthcare Centers Hammond, IN May 19, 2010 $80,205
Nuclear Medicine Technologist Fresno Community Hospital and Medical Center Fresno, CA Jan 15, 2010 $75,691 -
$87,675
Nuclear Medicine Technologist Sun Radiology Peoria, AZ Oct 01, 2010 $73,045 -
$37
Nuclear Medicine Technologist Norman Regional Health System Norman, OK Nov 15, 2011 $73,045
Nuclear Medicine Technologist Sun Radiology Peoria, AZ Jan 03, 2011 $73,045
Nuclear Medicine Technologist Norman Regional Health System Norman, OK Nov 13, 2009 $73,045
Nuclear Medicine Technologist Community Medical Centers Fresno, CA May 01, 2011 $71,855 -
$93,915
Nuclear Medicine Technologist Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center Baltimore, MD Aug 20, 2012 $69,326
Nuclear Medicine Technologist Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District Brawley, CA Jun 10, 2010 $69,000
Nuclear Medicine Technologist Greyhawk Medical Staffing Phoenix, AZ Jul 01, 2010 $68,871
Nuclear Medicine Technologist Wellspan Health York, PA Apr 26, 2010 $68,000
Nuclear Medicine Technologists Wellspan Health York, PA Apr 26, 2013 $68,000
Nuclear Medicine Technologist Mount Sinai Medical Center New York, NY Feb 01, 2010 $67,972
Nuclear Medicine Technologist Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center Baltimore, MD Aug 20, 2011 $67,577 -
$73,045
Nuclear Medicine Technologist Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center Baltimore, MD Aug 20, 2011 $67,556 -
$73,045
Nuclear Medicine Technologist Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center Baltimore, MD Aug 20, 2011 $67,355 -
$72,355
Nuclear Medicine Technologist Med-Share, Inc. Southfield, MI May 01, 2012 $66,784

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Top Skills for A Nuclear Medicine Technologist

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  1. Nuclear Medicine Procedures
  2. Therapeutic Procedures
  3. Radiation Safety
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Key Accomplishments: Significantly improved nuclear medicine procedures by suggesting more efficient processes and upgrading nuclear medicine examination procedures.
  • Performed diagnostic and therapeutic procedures including routine PET/ CT Oncology, Neurology and Nuclear Medicine procedures.
  • Delivered presentations and facilitated discussions concerning radiation safety with the Allen College Radiography school and area groups.
  • Perform patient imaging procedures using sophisticated radiation-detecting instrumentation.
  • Performed various aspects of quality control of gamma cameras and related equipment

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