A radiologic technologist, also known as a radiology technician or a radiographer, is a health professional that operates medical imaging equipment on the patient’s anatomy. Doctors often used the images generated by the procedure to correctly diagnose and treat their patients. Radiologic technologists on the other hand, have the responsibility to explain the procedure that is to be done on the patient, position them on the examining tables, and implement safety measures that will protect them from unnecessary radiation. They will then operate the equipment and then produce the images necessary for the doctor to make their diagnosis.
The complexity of their job description earns them their pay. The 2012 mean salary for radiologic technologists is at USD 56,760 annually at an hourly rate of USD 27.29, a slight dip compared to what they previously received in 2011. Half of those employed get roughly about USD 55,200 or USD 26.54 an hour. Top earners can get as much as USD 78,440 while low ballers may receive USD 37,570 a year. These figures in the latest Bureau of Labour Statistics data do not represent specialised radiologic technologists such as sonographers, whose mean annual wage is at USD 67,170, and MRI technologists that earn an average yearly income of USD 65,960; and classify them into a separate category. However, a radiologic technologist’s actual salary is variable and is highly dependent on certain factors.
- Geography. For those who want to feel the demand for radiologic technologists, southern states seem to demonstrate the dramatic increase in vacancies for the next couple of years. In a recent survey, salaries offered by the states of Massachusetts (USD 90,080), California (USD 78,590), Alaska (USD 75,980), the District of Columbia (USD 76,500) and New York (USD 75,610) are the higher compared to the national average. Both metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas in California have been offering higher than the average pay for radiologic technologists. Napa, a metropolitan area, can pay their radiologic technologists USD 97,410 a year while the Northern Mountains region, a non-metropolis, can offer USD 85,650 annually on average. However, it has to be taken into consideration that some of these states have higher costs of living which augments the high pay they offer for radiologic technologists.
- Industry. Most of the radiologic technologists who work for hospitals (USD 57,530 annually) get lower pay than those employed by medical and diagnostic laboratories (USD 57,850 a year). However, compared to those working for practitioners (USD 53,210 yearly), those in hospital duty get more. Working in educational establishments (USD 74,810), research facilities (USD 73,570) and specialty hospitals (USD 72,410) will offer better pay checks than any other industry that employs radiologic technologists.
- Credentials. High school students who want to pursue careers as radiologic technologists should be able to qualify them for certificate programs that get them employed for entry-level jobs that pay about USD 37,060 a year or USD 17.82 an hour. For job stability, associate’s degrees offered by community colleges are preferred by most employers although other people prefer bachelor’s degrees from larger institutions. These degrees better be accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) in order for them to qualify for the licensure exam administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).
- Specialisation. Major specialties in radiography are in computed tomography (CT) scanning, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and mammography. Other specialisation includes nuclear medicine (USD 71,000/year on average), fluoroscopy, and sonography (USD 69,000 annually on average) which offer higher than the usual starting salaries. Radiologic technologists who specialise in any or most of these get to earn more than the average radiographer. They eventually take their master’s degree in health administration to qualify them for a supervisory or administrative post, which will get them about USD 77, 160 annually or about USD 37.10 per hour.
A large majority of radiologic technologists have been employed by hospitals and doctor’s offices, with 61 per cent working in hospitals. Some are working in outpatient clinics, federal government and diagnostic laboratories. Work schedules are often full time at rotating shifts, which includes weekends, evenings and holidays. Aside from their pay, medical benefits are often included in the compensation package along with retirement benefits, paid holidays, and vacation leaves. On-call positions enjoy flexible working hours.
According to the US Department of Labour data, there will be a 21 per cent increased demand for radiologic technologists to 2022, which is twice the average growth of similar health professions that require at least an associate degree. This is a bolder forecast than the previous 17 per cent from 2010 to 2018. Compared to other health care professionals, the radiologic technologist gets more than the clinical laboratory technician (about USD 17,200 difference on average) but slightly less than respiratory therapists (approximately USD 800 difference on average).