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X-ray Technician

 

What do you do on this job?

X-ray technicians use special equipment to create images of internal organs, tissues and bones. They use specialized training in the area of manipulating X-rays and other medical imaging equipment so that diseases, conditions or injury can be visualized and diagnosed.

Technicians receive instructions from doctors about which area of the body they need to image and what procedure to use. They might use X-rays, which take pictures of the bones of the body, or fluoroscopes or sonograms, which show the soft tissues of the body using sound, magnetic and radio waves.

 

What tasks does an X-ray technician perform?

Duties include the following:

  • Use information received from a doctor about which procedure to use

  • Make the patient comfortable by explaining what will happen

  • Make sure the patient has removed all jewelry

  • Use a lead apron to protect parts of the patient’s body that are not to be X-rayed

  • Follow safety procedures to protect oneself

  • Use equipment correctly

  • Record results either on film or on the computer

  • Check to see if the image is clear and readable

  • Assist new people in the field

 

What are the working conditions like?

X-ray technicians generally have a high level of interaction with both patients and other medical staff. Sometimes they are put in difficult positions with uncooperative patients. If they are in a supervisory position, they are responsible for the work of the people they supervise.

X-ray technicians always work indoors. They can be exposed to infections and need to wear protection when taking X-rays. They must be very accurate in their work, for mistakes could be detrimental to life. They need to be an accurate and organized record keeper.

It is often necessary to stand for long periods of time and to use muscles to lift, push or pull heavy objects.

 

What skills and abilities must an X-ray technician possess?

X-ray technicians must listen, understand and ask questions about the patient and the procedures. They must then communicate clearly when speaking or writing.

They must problem solve and not be distracted. They need to be able to reason and combine several pieces of information to draw conclusions.

They need to manage their time while working efficiently with both the patient and also the machine.

 

How do I get ready to become an X-ray technician?

X-ray technicians need a high school diploma and additional schooling to earn certification. Most technicians have a minimum of a high school diploma and some training in the methodology of the job and administrative duties. Approximately 45 percent have an associate degree. Many technical schools and two-year colleges and some hospitals offer this degree. Also, some branches of the military train people to perform this job.

In high school, you should take classes that prepare you for college. It is often possible to receive some college credit if you take AP or IB courses, if you have them in your school. Some helpful electives would be anatomy, physiology, health education and introductory courses in health care.

Volunteering in a hospital can be fun and can also give you an idea of what the work will entail.

Most employers prefer applicants who have had formal training in using the X-ray, the sonogram and the fluoroscope.

Most states require X-ray technicians to be licensed. In Ohio, to be registered to take X-rays, you must be at least 18 years old, complete an accredited radiography program and pass an exam. Licenses can be renewed by completed 12 hours of continuing education every two years.

 

How much does this job pay?

In Ohio, the median pay for this job is $24.17 per hour or a yearly salary of up to $50,280. This is somewhat lower than the national average of $26.13 per hour and a yearly salary of $54,340. There is, however, considerable difference around the state.

About half of all X-ray technicians work in hospitals. Doctors’ offices and medical laboratories also hire in this field.

 

How many jobs are there?

Because of the increasing number of elderly people, there is growth in this area. They require more medical testing due to illness and injury.

 

What are similar jobs?

  • Cardiovascular technologists

  • Dental assistants or dental hygienists

  • MRI technologists

  • Nuclear medicine technologists

  • Radiation therapists

  • Respiratory therapists

  • Surgical technologists

 

 
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