RADIOLOGIC TECHNOLOGIST: Duties, Salary, Programs & Differences

Radiologic Technologist

In modern healthcare, medical imaging is an essential part of giving treatment. It enables doctors to identify and manage a variety of illnesses. The operation of medical imaging equipment and the creation of high-quality images of the human body falls under the purview of the radiologic technologist, who are crucial healthcare team members. 

In this article, we will explore the job description of a radiologic technologist, including their duties, salary, programs, and differences between a radiologist and radiologic tech.

Who is a Radiologic Technologist

Radiologic technologists are medical professionals who carry out diagnostic imaging procedures like X-ray examinations, MRI scans, and computed tomography (CT) scans. They are often experts in procedures like mammography, sonography, or cardiovascular-interventional radiography.

A radiologic technologist collaborates closely with radiologists and medical professionals who analyze medical images and make diagnoses or exclusions of illness or injury. They conduct imaging examinations and ensure that high-quality diagnostic images are produced so the radiologist can interpret them correctly.

Radiologic Technologist Job Description

The job description of a radiologic technologist involves working closely with physicians to evaluate images and determine if more are needed. They ensure the quality of the images captured while maintaining imaging equipment.

Duties of a Radiologic Technologist

The duties of a radiologic technologist include the following:

  • Following instructions from physicians regarding which area of the patient’s body needs imaging
  • Talking the patient through the procedure and answering questions to lower their anxiety
  • Correctly positioning the patient and adjusting the imaging equipment to the specified position 
  • Preventing unnecessary radiation exposure both to themselves and to the patient by following correct techniques and procedures, such as patient shielding 
  • Maintaining radiology supplies inventory by checking stock, anticipating future needs, and placing orders

Qualifications of a Radiologic Technologist

To become a radiologic technologist, one must have the necessary qualifications and certifications. The following are the necessary qualifications for a radiologic technologist:

  • Earn a degree: A radiologic technologist needs to graduate from high school or obtain an equivalency degree. Focus on science and mathematics courses to prepare for future educational opportunities. 
  • Accredited programs: Apply for and attend an accredited undergraduate radiologic technology program. Radiologic technologists may earn either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree to be eligible for certification from the ARRT. 
  • ARRT certification: Apply for certification and registration with ARRT. To maximize potential employability and establish expertise, most radiologic technologists choose to pursue certification with the ARRT. 
  • Pick a speciality: Radiologic technologists may want to pursue speciality certification with the ARRT in areas such as mammography, bone densitometry, or cardiac-interventional radiography. 
  • Maintain ARRT certification: Technologists must renew their certifications every two years, first requiring compliance with all ARRT regulations, adherence to the ARRT standards of ethics, and completion of the required number of continuing education hours.

Skills for a Radiologic Technologist

To work effectively with patients and other healthcare members, radiologic technologists need a combination of soft skills and the technical knowledge. Some of the qualities and skills a radiologic technologist needs include the following:

#1. Technical Skills

Radiologic technologists operate complex machinery and equipment, so it’s important to be tech-savvy and quickly adapt to new technical skills. 

#2. Attention to Detail

Radiologic technologists must be detail-oriented, follow exact procedures, and pay close attention to other medical staff requests to obtain the diagnostic images required to identify patients’ conditions.

#3. Communication Skills

Radiologic technologists interact with physicians, radiologists, radiation oncologists, interventional radiologists, colleagues, patients, and families. Also, radiologic technologists should be able to explain the procedure to the patients and provide comfort.

#4. Stamina and Flexibility

Radiologic technologists spend most of their day on their feet and often have to move heavy machinery and patients with mobility problems. They must also be prepared to work unsociable hours, including evenings, weekends, public holidays, or on-call.

#5. Interpersonal Skills

Radiologic technologists must have good patient communication and care skills as they interact with patients who are often at their worst.

#6. Math Skills and Knowledge of Scientific Concepts

Radiologic technologists must understand various scientific principles, including the power of X-ray photons and the number of X-ray photons used to obtain a great image. Additionally, radiologic technologists must understand the factors that might change these calculations.

#7. Ethical Behavior

Honesty and integrity are necessary qualities of radiologic technologists in the workplace. Omitting or falsifying a patient’s medical history or being lax on medical images completed can cause serious adverse effects for the patient

#8. Empathy

Often, patients are in pain or quite anxious before their examination. Therefore, the radiologic technologist should let them know what to expect before, during, and after the examination. This can assist in putting the patients at ease.

#9. Teamwork

Radiologic technologists often collaborate with a range of healthcare experts, such as doctors, nurses, and administrative staff; hence, knowing how to collaborate effectively is critical because personality differences are almost always present. 

#10. Organizational Skills

The job description of a radiologic technologist includes recording a patient’s medical history before an exam and updating the records afterwards; thus, the technologist must be able to take thorough, orderly notes and comprehend the right filing arrangement.

Salary for Radiologic Technologist

The salary of a radiologic technologist depends on several factors, including the type of work environment, geographic area, the tech’s experience and education, and the modality or modalities in which the tech is trained. 

A radiologic technologist working in bone densitometry can earn an average annual salary of $62,042. A radiologic technologist working in vascular sonography earns an average salary of $69,794, and those working in breast sonography ($73,967), or PET/CT, SPEC/CT ($78,018).

What Are the Challenges of Being a Radiologic Technologist?

As a radiologic technologist, you may encounter patients who have never used imaging technology or want assistance understanding your positioning instructions. Procedures requiring new, sophisticated equipment can cause patients to feel anxious, confused, and perhaps even afraid.

Challenges a radiologic technologist might face include:

  • Working directly with patients can be challenging for radiologic technologists, as patients may be nervous or worried and not like to wait. Therefore, good technologists try to ease patients’ fears and take negative comments in stride.
  • There are potential personal risks from working around radiation. However, numerous studies have found no danger from radiation even when given much higher dosages than typical scans transmit. 
  • Radiologic technologists typically stand for a significant part of the day while administering radiation to patients, which can be tiring.
  • Seeing patients who are ill, sometimes through a recurrence of illness, can take a toll on mental health and outlook.

What are the Pros and Cons of Being a Radiologic Technologist?

Radiologic technologists, or radiographers, play an essential role in the healthcare industry. However, like any other job, some pros and cons come with being a radiologic technologist. They include:


  • Competition: There is a lot of competition for the best jobs. Radiologic technologists may work unfavourable hours or places to get their dream job. 
  • Physical work: The job description of a radiologic technologist requires one to be in the good physical condition as they spend a lot of time on their feet and may have to lift patients
  • Radiation exposure: Radiologic technologists are exposed to radiation, which can lead to serious medical problems in the future 
  • Erratic hours: The hours for a radiologic technologist can be unpredictable, including long hours and overnight shifts. 
  • Emotional trauma and mental health concerns – Radiologic technologists may witness traumatic incidents that can affect their mental health. 


  • Good benefits: Radiologic technologists get health insurance, vacation, and paid leave benefits. 
  • Ideal for those who want to work in a medical setting: Rad techs work in a medical environment and help people get the necessary treatments and information. 
  • Growing field: The demand for radiologic technologists is high, and many job opportunities are available. 
  • Keeps up with the latest medical technology – Rad techs work with advanced equipment and must keep up with the latest medical technology. 
  • Opportunities for higher-level study and qualification: Radiology technologists are required to earn their bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year college and graduate from an accredited medical school to earn an MD or DO

Radiologic Technologist Programs

Radiologic technologist programs prepare students to become qualified imaging practitioners committed to the highest patient care, ethical standards, and technical practices while instilling the importance of professionalism. 

The radiologic technologist programs consist of coursework in principles of patient care, imaging procedures, radiographic physics, advanced imaging, pathology for radiographers, radiation biology, and imaging applications.

There are different types of programs available for an individual to become a radiologic technologist. Some of them are:

#1. Certificate Programs

The certificate programs are designed for individuals who have completed an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a related field and want to specialise in radiologic technology. Certificate programs can take six months to a year to complete and are usually offered through community colleges or vocational schools.

#2. Associate Degree Programs

Associate degree programs in radiologic technology typically take two years to complete and are offered through community colleges or technical schools. Students in these programs will learn the basics of radiologic technology through a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on training.

#3. Bachelor’s Degree Programs

Bachelor’s degree programs in radiologic technology are designed for a radiologic technologist who wants to advance his career in radiologic technology. These programs usually take four years to complete and are offered through universities or colleges.

Radiologic Technologist vs Radiologist

Radiologic technologists and radiologists are both crucial professions in the healthcare industry, but their roles and responsibilities differ. 


Radiologists are medical doctors or doctors of osteopathic medicine who specialise in radiology. They interpret medical images such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans to diagnose and treat various medical conditions. They may also specialise in a subspecialty of radiology, such as pediatric or nuclear radiology.

Radiologic Technologist

Radiologic technologists, sometimes called “rad techs,” are healthcare professionals who capture medical images using specialised equipment. They work under the direction of radiologists and are responsible for positioning the patient, taking the images, and ensuring the quality of the images. Radiology techs may specialize in a specific imaging area, such as mammography or cardiovascular imaging, with additional experience and education. 

Key Differences Between a Radiologist and a Radiology Tech

The differences include the following:

#1. Education Requirements

Radiologic technologists typically earn an associate’s degree in radiologic technology and must be licensed or certified in most states. Radiologists, conversely, must complete a bachelor’s degree, four years of medical school, and a residency program in radiology. The education and training required to become a radiologist can take up to 12 years.

#2. Job Duties

Radiologic technologists work with patients to take medical images. They also analyse photos with physicians to determine if more are needed. Radiologists evaluate medical pictures to diagnose and treat medical diseases. They collaborate with other doctors and report their findings to the ordering doctor.

#3. Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of a radiologic technologist is $61,370. Radiologists, conversely, have a mean yearly salary of $301,720.

Is Being a Radiology Tech Stressful?

A radiology tech is crucial to providing medical care to patients, which can be very stressful. Additionally, changes in technology, multitasking, and workload can affect the stress level of the role. However, the stress level may vary from person to person and can also depend on the work environment.

Is a Radiologist the Same as a Doctor?

A radiologist is a medical specialist who specialises in medical imaging. They are medical doctors (MDs) or doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs) who have finished a four-year radiology residency.  They work in clinical settings, hospitals, and universities. 

What is the Most Difficult Part of Being a Radiologist?

The most difficult part of being a radiologist differs depending on the radiologist you ask, but here are some general difficulties radiologists might face: Interpreting images accurately and dealing with the pressure of making diagnoses, long hours and physical demands, learning and retaining a lot of physics knowledge, working with anxious or complex patients, and being at risk of radiation exposure.


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