Radiographer Job Description
Radiographers, also called radiologic technologists, perform X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and other forms of medical imaging to help diagnose illnesses and conditions. Most work in hospitals, but some work in private doctor’s offices or in outpatient clinics. They need at least an associate’s degree and state licensing or certification. Because healthcare facilities operate 24 hours a day, radiographers may work irregular hours, including nights and weekends. It’s a physically and mentally demanding job that requires extended periods standing and working in sometimes fast-paced and high-stakes situations.
Radiographer Duties and Responsibilities
Whether they work in a busy emergency room or an outpatient clinic, radiographers work closely with physicians to diagnose patient ailments. While their duties may vary slightly based on the type of facility they work in, here are a few core tasks associated with the role:
Interact with Patients
In addition to performing the diagnostic imaging, radiographers usually prepare the patient for their procedure. This includes explaining how the procedure works and addressing any questions or concerns, along with compiling a medical history for the patient and providing them with any necessary protective clothing or gear. They also ensure the patient is positioned to get the clearest and most accurate image possible.
Administer Radiation Treatments
Given their expertise with radiology, radiographers often work alongside oncologists to deliver radiation therapy for various types of cancer.
Perform Specialized Radiography
While they can perform any type of diagnostic imaging, radiographers frequently focus on one specific area. For example, they may only perform mammograms and serve as an expert in medical imaging for that purpose.
Assist During Surgery
Some surgeries, especially those that are particularly invasive, require the assistance of medical imaging to allow the surgeon a better view of the patient’s body. Radiographers are responsible for operating this equipment during these procedures.
Because the radiographer is the person with specialized knowledge of diagnostic imaging equipment, it’s their responsibility to ensure it’s always in proper working order. They also prepare it when it’s time to perform a procedure and position it correctly to capture a clear image of the patient.
Radiographer Skills and Qualifications
The knowledge and experience needed to work as a radiographer may vary slightly among healthcare facilities, but we’ve found a few common qualities shared by successful radiology professionals:
- Medical knowledge – to take the best possible images, radiographers use not only their radiology expertise, but also their in-depth understanding of the human body, as well as how injuries and disease affect the body. This helps them better understand the images produced
- Technical expertise – radiographers work with a wide range of technological equipment, which requires technical savvy
- Mathematical ability – radiographers mix the chemicals used for diagnostic imaging, something that requires strong math skills to get the combinations just right
- Critical thinking – every patient is different and no two medical conditions present themselves in the same way, but a radiographer uses their analytical abilities to look at each patient’s case individually and adjust their procedures to suit the patient
- Patient and calm demeanor – radiographers often work in emergency and high-stress situations and must keep their cool and focus on producing a usable X-ray or other image that enables the doctor to make an accurate diagnosis. It can also take time to position the patient and the equipment correctly, and to get the best possible image, so radiographers need to be calm and unhurried throughout this process
- People skills – patients often turn to the radiographer if they’re worried or unsure about a procedure, and the radiographer eases their fears and helps them understand the process. They also work with a diverse group of people, including physicians and other medical professionals, requiring them to communicate clearly and effectively and work well with the entire team
Tools of the Trade
Much of a radiographer’s job involves using medical equipment, requiring them to be proficient in and comfortable working with the following tools:
- Medical imaging equipment (MRT, CT, mammography machines)
- Computer software (for updating patient records)
- Protective gear (goggles, aprons)
Radiographer Education and Training
Radiographers need at least an associate’s degree that includes both classroom study and hands-on training, along with coursework in medical and healthcare-related areas such as anatomy and pathology. Some technical and vocational colleges offer associate degrees in radiography that prepare students for state and national certification exams. Radiographers can often find employment immediately upon graduating.
Radiographer Salary and Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), radiographers earn a median annual salary of $63,930. Those in the top ten percent earn more than $97,460 and those in the bottom ten percent earn less than $48,600. The BLS anticipates that employment opportunities for radiographers will increase by 12 percent between 2016 and 2026, which is faster than the average growth rate for other professions.
If you’re ready to start your career in radiography, we have several resources to help you on your job search or improve your employment prospects:
American Society of Radiologic Technologists – this professional association helps radiographers enhance their careers through training and education and with grants for professional development. Members can also search their job boards and participate in online forums.
American Registry of Radiologic Technologists – radiographers wishing to specialize in one area can earn credentials in fields such mammography, radiation therapy, bone densitometry, and others through this official credentialing organization.
Clark’s Pocket Handbook for Radiographers – this authoritative reference book is designed to be convenient for radiographers to keep close at hand and to be easy to flip through to quickly find what they need in everyday on-the-job situations.
Photographer Red-Hot Career Guide: 2508 REAL Interview Questions – land your dream radiography job with this comprehensive guide to interviewing for radiology positions.
Radiographer Resume Help
Explore these related job titles from our database of hundreds of thousands of expert-approved resume samples: