A radiographer, also known as a radiologic technologist, takes x-rays or uses other imaging equipment to get a clear image of parts of a patient's body. According to the Maryland Hospital Association on its Maryland Health Careers website, radiology began as a medical field in 1895 and has experienced significant growth since the beginning of the Computer Age in the late 1980s. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2006 to 2016, the number of radiologists in the United States is expected to increase approximately 15 percent. Radiographers work with cutting-edge medical equipment, so it is important for them to keep up with changes in the field as modern technology gets more and more sophisticated.
The Mayo Clinic states that radiographers are responsible for explaining proper imaging procedures to patients, positioning patients correctly, and producing x-rays or other images for a doctor to be able to make an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan for the patient. Various types of radiographers can take images of the body's tissues, bones, organs and blood vessels. According to the Maryland Hospital Association, it is critical to administer radiologic procedures with as much care as possible in order to prevent overexposure to radiation, both for the patient and the radiologist. Radiographers must communicate effectively with both patients and doctors because they are all responsible for good health outcomes.
A website hosted by the UK's Society of Radiographers explains that there are two types of radiographers. A diagnostic radiographer takes x-rays that are used to get a clearer view of an injury or area of disease. Forms of diagnostic imaging include x-rays, fluoroscopy, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound and angiography. Therapy radiographers give cancer patients carefully measured doses of radiation as a part of their treatment regimen. Radiation has been shown to reduce the size of some cancerous tumors and destroy certain cancer cells within the body.
Radiographers must be knowledgeable about human anatomy and maintain a good rapport with patients of all ages, each of whom may present with a different illness and severity of condition. Courses in biology, human anatomy and physiology are required. According to the Maryland Hospital Association, there are various ways to become a radiographer. Most aspiring radiographers complete a two-year or four-year program from a college, university, private school or hospital. Some institutions require the two-year radiography certification in order to take further, more specialized classes. Different places of study have differing prerequisites that must be met; however, licensure laws differ from state to state. Contact your state licensing board or the American Society of Radiologic Technologists for more information.
According to the Mayo Clinic, in 2003 the national average salary for entry-level radiographers was $30,000 to $35,000. This salary can increase substantially based upon the place of employment, years of experience and field specialization in CTs, MRIs and other more advanced technological procedures. According to PayScale.com, as of Sept. 13, 2009, radiologists with less than one year experience make between approximately $38,900 and $99,200 per year. After 10 to 19 years in the field, annual salaries rise to between approximately $124,200 to $314,500.
According to the Mayo Clinic, those just entering the field of radiology should find plenty of job opportunities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that there were 196,000 radiographers working in the United States in 2006. The Maryland Hospital Association states that in the United States the services of a radiographer are sought after by seven out of 10 people every year. According to the Association, the demand for radiographers is growing faster than the ability for hospitals and other medical facilities to employ them.
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