A radiographer is an allied health professional that uses ionizing radiation (x-rays) to produce images of the internal structures of the human body. A radiologist (doctor who specializes in the interpretation and diagnosis of disease or injury) views these images. A radiographer assists the radiologist with many procedures including positioning the patient, administering contrast agents, operation of diagnostic imaging equipment, image processing, radiation exposure factors and radiation protection. Computer and digital equipment are utilized. A radiographer must have good interpersonal skills to deal with patients and health care workers. With additional education, a diagnostic imager may perform more specialized imaging procedures further assisting in the diagnosis of disease.
The field of diagnostic imaging has advanced significantly over the past two decades with its introduction of new equipment and imaging modalities. Skilled diagnostic imagers are in demand throughout the United States and the world, with career opportunities in hospitals, private practices, education, product development, technical sales and research. Radiographers with experience and additional education may go on to perform advanced imaging procedures such as CT, MRI, mammography and more.
Advancements: Radiographers may be promoted to supervisor, chief technologist, or department administrator or director. Some radiographers advance by specializing in the occupation to become instructors or directors in radiologic technology educational programs. Others may be employed as sales representatives or instructors with equipment manufacturers.
Job Outlook: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, radiologic technologists held about 214,700 jobs in 2008. About 61% of all jobs were in hospitals. A number of new jobs are found in offices of physicians and diagnostic imaging centers. Employment is projected to grow faster than average. Those with knowledge of more than one diagnostic imaging modality such as CT, MRI and mammography will have the best employment opportunity. Employment is expected to increase by about 17% from 2008 to 2018.
Demand for radiographers tends to be regional with some areas having large demand, while other areas are saturated. Radiographers willing to relocate may have a better job prospect.
Physical stamina is required in this occupation. Radiographers are on their feet for long periods of time, may be required to lift or position their patients and may have to perform radiographic procedures at a patient’s bedside. Although radiation is used in this profession, the use of lead aprons, gloves and other shielding devices minimize this exposure. Radiographers wear radiation-monitoring devices to measure and record levels of occupational radiation exposures.
Radiographers should be sensitive to a patient’s physical and psychological needs. They must pay attention to detail, follow instructions and work as part of a team. Radiographers must also operate complicated imaging equipment, which requires mechanical ability and manual dexterity.
Most full-time radiographers work about 40 hours per week. This may include evening, weekend or on-call hours. Some radiographers work part-time for more than one employer.
A graduate from NMU’s program as an entry-level radiographer averages $18/hour to $23/hour as a starting wage in our geographic area.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the median annual wage of radiographers was $52,210 in May 2008.
Information on careers in radiologic technology, contact:
American Society of Radiologic Technology
15000 Central Ave, SE, Albuquerque, NM 87123.
For the current list of accredited education programs in radiography, contact:
Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology
20 Wacker Drive, Suite 2850, Chicago, IL 60606-3182.
For certification information, contact:
American Registry of Radiologic Technologists
1255 Northland Dr, St. Paul, MN 55120-1155.