A radiologic technologist is someone who works under the supervision of a radiologist and helps them complete their daily tasks. This person will complete tasks like operating MRI machines, taking X-rays and CAT scans, and assisting patients. They will also perform various other duties throughout the work day as needed. A radiologic technologist is not the same thing as a radiologist. While their names may be extremely similar, they have very different jobs. Radiologic technologists require a lot less education and have far less responsibilities than radiologists do. Radiologic technologists, sometimes called radiologic technicians, are directly supervised by radiologists.
A radiologic technologist must complete a wide variety of tasks every day. These tasks include setting up MRI machines, setting up X-ray machines, setting up CAT scan machines, setting up ultrasound machines, and setting up a variety of other radiologic equipment. Radiologic technologists are also required to help patients participate in these exams. The technologists also operate these machines; however, radiologic technologists do not make any judgements based on the images they obtain. They simply report these images to the radiologist. The radiologist, not the radiologic technician, is the one who analyzes the data. Radiologic technicians are required to gather high-quality images and data, though. A radiologic technologist must be trained to recognize what is a clear, high-quality image and what is not. They must also be able to answer simple questions that patients may have about the procedure, and help patients prepare for the procedure. For example, they must make sure that patients remove all of their jewelry prior to a CAT scan. They must also warn patients about potential risks and dangers to their health. They must work to protect patients from any unneccessary risks to their health by providing a lead sheet, when necessary, and taking any other appropriate measures.
Working as a radiologic technologist requires an associate's degree. This means that a person must first earn a high school diploma or GED. Then, they must enroll in a community college or junior college. At the 2-year college, they would major in radiologic technology. Only people with an Associate of Science degree in Radiologic Technology can work as a radiologic technologist. Some people make the mistake of thinking that they are qualified to work as a radiologic technician because they have a bachelor's degree, and a bachelor's degree is higher than an associate's degree. However, this is faulty thinking. The Associate of Science degree program in Radiologic Technology is designed like a vocational program to prepare someone for a career as a radiologic technician. Even if someone has a Bachelor's degree in Biology, Physics, or Chemistry, they are not qualified to be a radiologic technologist. In order to work as a radiologic technician, they must return to school to earn an Associate of Science degree in Radiologic Technology. People with an Associate of Arts degree in General Studies, or an Associate of Science degree in any field except Radiologic Technology are also not qualified to be a radiologic technician. Only people who have an Associate of Science degree in Radiologic Technology can work as radiologic technologists.
All radiologic technologists work in medical offices, hospitals, or community colleges. Radiologic technologists are an important part of the medical support staff that keep hospitals and private medical offices functioning from day to day. Overall, polls show that most radiologic technologists enjoy their jobs and like knowing that they are helping people. At the same time, these same radiologic technologists that were polled claim that their workplace is very stressful, they do not enjoy their coworkers, and they feel as though they are underqualified to be working in the medical field. This may be a foreshadowing of the idea that over the next decade, the minimum education needed to become a radiologic technician will jump from an associate's degree to a bachelor's degree. Despite this, over the next decade it is expected that 61,000 new radiologic technician jobs will be added into the economy due to the rising age of the baby boom population. This is a 28% increase based on the amount of current jobs available, which is a faster growth rather than the national average for all jobs. This is also a higher growth rate than most other jobs, when looked at on an individual basis.