Working as a Radiation Therapist

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

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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Average Salary$83,623
Job Growth Rate9%

Radiation Therapist Jobs

Radiation Therapist Career Paths

Top Careers Before Radiation Therapist
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Average Salary for a Radiation Therapist

Radiation Therapists in America make an average salary of $83,623 per year or $40 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $106,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $65,000 per year.
Average Salary
$83,623

Best Paying Cities

City
Average Salary

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
Radiation Therapist
Radiation Therapist
Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
07/28/2020
07/28/2020
$75,13207/28/2020
$75,132
Radiation Therapist
Radiation Therapist
Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic
07/10/2020
07/10/2020
$65,03107/10/2020
$65,031
Radiation Therapist
Radiation Therapist
Fairfield Medical Center
Fairfield Medical Center
07/03/2020
07/03/2020
$52,96807/03/2020
$52,968
Radiation Therapist
Radiation Therapist
Novant Health
Novant Health
07/03/2020
07/03/2020
$62,61007/03/2020
$62,610
Radiation Therapist
Radiation Therapist
Peace Health
Peace Health
06/30/2020
06/30/2020
$84,89906/30/2020
$84,899
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Radiation Therapist Demographics

Gender

Female

62.3 %

Male

34.7 %

Unknown

2.9 %
Ethnicity

White

62.6 %

Hispanic or Latino

13.9 %

Black or African American

11.6 %
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

63.9 %

French

4.2 %

Portuguese

2.8 %
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Radiation Therapist Education

Schools

Washburn University of Topeka

13.4 %

Loma Linda University

7.0 %

Argosy University-Twin Cities

6.7 %

Hillsborough Community College

6.7 %
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Majors

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

60.9 %

Medical Technician

18.9 %

Business

3.4 %

Health Care Administration

2.6 %
Show More
Degrees

Bachelors

37.3 %

Associate

28.0 %

Certificate

26.4 %

Masters

5.3 %
Show More

Entry Level Jobs For Becoming A Radiation Therapist

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Full Time
Part Time
Internship
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Top Skills For a Radiation Therapist

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, 17.8% of radiation therapists listed radiation oncologist on their resume, but soft skills such as interpersonal skills and technical skills are important as well.

Best States For a Radiation Therapist

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a radiation therapist. The best states for people in this position are Alaska, Washington, Montana, and Oregon. Radiation therapists make the most in Alaska with an average salary of $129,761. Whereas in Washington and Montana, they would average $111,378 and $107,565, respectively. While radiation therapists would only make an average of $107,447 in Oregon, 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. South Dakota

Total Radiation Therapist Jobs:
14
Highest 10% Earn:
$162,000
Location Quotient:
3.2
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. North Dakota

Total Radiation Therapist Jobs:
2
Highest 10% Earn:
$174,000
Location Quotient:
0.37
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. Texas

Total Radiation Therapist Jobs:
196
Highest 10% Earn:
$167,000
Location Quotient:
1.35
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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Radiation Therapist Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a radiation therapist. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

At Zippia, we went through countless radiation therapist resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Write a Radiation Therapist Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless radiation therapist resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

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Top Radiation Therapist Employers

1. Vantage Oncology
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$72,243
Radiation Therapists Hired: 
20+
2. St. Joseph Hospital
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$43,747
Radiation Therapists Hired: 
15+
3. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$52,526
Radiation Therapists Hired: 
15+
4. Texas Oncology
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$45,631
Radiation Therapists Hired: 
14+
5. Mercy Medical Center
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$46,788
Radiation Therapists Hired: 
14+
6. CancerCare
4.2
Avg. Salary: 
$46,862
Radiation Therapists Hired: 
14+

Radiation Therapist Videos

Recently Added Radiation Therapist Jobs

Updated October 2, 2020