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Become A Radiation Therapist

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Working As A Radiation Therapist

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Controlling Machines and Processes
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Repetitive

  • Stressful

  • $81,390

    Average Salary

What Does A Radiation Therapist Do

Radiation therapists treat cancer and other diseases in patients by administering radiation treatments.

Duties

Radiation therapists typically do the following:

  • Explain treatment plans to the patient and answer questions about treatment
  • Follow safety procedures to protect the patient and themselves from overexposure to radiation
  • Examine machines to make sure they are safe and working properly
  • X ray the patient to determine the exact location of the area requiring treatment
  • Check computer programs to make sure the machine will give the correct dose of radiation to the appropriate area of the patient's body
  • Operate the machine to treat the patient with radiation
  • Monitor the patient to check for unusual reactions to the treatment
  • Keep detailed records of treatment

Radiation therapists operate machines called linear accelerators, which are used to deliver radiation therapy. These machines direct high-energy x rays at specific cancer cells in a patient's body, shrinking or removing them. 

Radiation therapists are part of the oncology team that treats patients with cancer. They often work with the following specialists:

  • Radiation oncologists, physicians who specialize in radiation therapy
  • Oncology nurses, registered nurses who specialize in caring for patients with cancer
  • Medical physicists, physicists who help in planning of radiation treatments and help to develop better and safer radiation therapies

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How To Become A Radiation Therapist

Most radiation therapists complete programs that lead to an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in radiation therapy. Radiation therapists must be licensed or certified in most states. Requirements vary by state, but often include passing a national certification exam.

Education

Employers usually prefer to hire applicants who have an associate’s degree or a bachelor's degree in radiation therapy. However, candidates may qualify for some positions by completing a 12-month certificate program.

Radiation therapy programs include courses in radiation therapy procedures and the scientific theories behind them. These programs often include experience in a clinical setting and courses in human anatomy and physiology, physics, algebra, computer science, and research methodology. In 2014, there were about 120 accredited educational programs recognized by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.

Important Qualities

Detail oriented. Radiation therapists must follow exact instructions and input exact measurements to make sure the patient is exposed to the correct amount of radiation.

Interpersonal skills. Radiation therapists work closely with patients. It is important that therapists be comfortable interacting with people who may be going through physical and emotional stress.

Physical stamina. Radiation therapists must be able to be on their feet for long periods and be able to lift and move patients who need assistance.

Technical skills. Radiation therapists work with computers and large pieces of technological equipment, so they must be comfortable operating those devices.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

In most states, radiation therapists must be licensed or certified. Requirements vary by state, but typically include graduation from an accredited radiation therapy program and American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification.

To become ARRT certified, an applicant must complete an accredited radiation therapy program, adhere to ARRT ethical standards, and pass the ARRT certification exam. The exam covers radiation protection and quality assurance, clinical concepts in radiation oncology, treatment planning, treatment delivery, and patient care and education. A list of accredited programs is available from ARRT.

Many jobs also require cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or basic life support (BLS) certification.

Advancement

With additional education and certification, therapists can become medical dosimetrists. Dosimetrists are responsible for calculating the correct dose of radiation that is used in the treatment of cancer patients.

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Radiation Therapist jobs

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Real Radiation Therapist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Radiation Therapist Vassar Brothers Medical Center Poughkeepsie, NY Sep 09, 2010 $143,328
Radiation Therapist Vassar Brothers Medical Center Poughkeepsie, NY Sep 09, 2010 $124,014
Radiation Therapist El Portal Radiaition Oncology Center, Inc. Merced, CA Apr 03, 2012 $101,442
Assistant Clinical Supervisor/Radiation Therapist Mount Sinai Medical Center New York, NY Jul 01, 2011 $95,000
Radiation Therapists Team Net Medical Norfolk, VA Apr 23, 2013 $85,000
Radiation Therapists Northwestern Memorial Hospital Chicago, IL Apr 25, 2011 $80,954 -
$137,009
Radiation Therapist Senior University of Texas Health Science Center at San A San Antonio, TX Jun 01, 2013 $80,038
Radiation Therapist Howard University Washington, DC Jul 01, 2013 $75,982
Radiation Therapist Aptium Oncology Inc. Los Angeles, CA Sep 18, 2009 $75,941 -
$79,532
Radiation Therapists Mount Sinai Medical Center New York, NY Mar 01, 2011 $75,555
Radiation Therapist Howard University Washington, DC Jul 01, 2010 $72,685
Radiation Therapist University of Chicago Medical Center Chicago, IL Jan 18, 2012 $72,648
Radiation Therapist Alta Bates Summit Medical Center Berkeley, CA Mar 05, 2008 $70,582
Radiation Therapists Mount Sinai Medical Center NY Dec 01, 2010 $70,283

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Top Skills for A Radiation Therapist

RadiationTherapyEquipmentImrtVarian21ExRadiationTherapyTreatmentsLinearAcceleratorTreatmentPlanningRadiationOncologistIgrtQAHDRCbctPatientCareImmobilizationDevicesMosaiqImpacRecordTrilogyLinacCancerPatientsPatientTreatmentElektaSynergy

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Top Radiation Therapist Skills

  1. Radiation Therapy Equipment
  2. Imrt
  3. Varian 21Ex
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Administer prescribed doses of radiation to specific body parts, using radiation therapy equipment according to established practices and standards.
  • Provided Radiation Treatment to local patients utilizing Varian Linear Accelerators with IMRT capabilities.
  • Deliver accurate radiation therapy treatments to patients using Varian 21EX and 21IX Linear Accelerators both alone and with team members.
  • Delivered daily radiation therapy treatments to patients utilizing photon external beam radiation.
  • Perform duties of staff therapist on all equipment, as scheduled * Equipment included Electa Linear Accelerator

Top Radiation Therapist Employers

Radiation Therapist Videos

Radiation Therapist Salary | Radiation Therapist Income, Education Requirements, Overview

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