How to Become a Radiographer

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Visual evidence provides doctors with important information that helps determine diagnoses for their patients. When a medical issue requires visualization at a level beyond skin deep, advanced imaging technology helps turn opaque skin transparent, allowing health-care practitioners to peek inside the body. Radiographers specialize in technology such as an X-ray machine that reveals internal medical problems that would otherwise be difficult to detect.

Skills and Proficiencies

  • As a prospective radiographer, you need to develop a range of technical skills to competently manipulate the imaging equipment and computer systems that obtain detailed visual information. This includes rendering of two-dimensional and three-dimensional images according to the demands of a medical situation. Radiologists must also develop communication skills to work as part of a team with other health-care professionals. Tactfully directing patients when imaging a specific angle or part of the body eases the process.

Educational Requirements for Radiography

  • Radiographers choose from a variety of different courses in the process of obtaining the scholastic background that employers seek from applicants. According to the American Society of Radiologic Technologists, the minimum education for prospective radiologists is a two-year associate degree that focuses on radiologic technology. Candidates also have the option of attending a four-year college or university program that results in a bachelor's degree. Course topics include biology, physics, anatomy, radiation safety and imaging technology.

Certification for Radiologists

  • After completing a degree, radiographers obtain certification to prove basic competency in the field. The largest certification organization is the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, or ARRT, which offers a variety of tests for different types of accreditation, including basic radiology certification. The test consists of 200 questions from which candidates must achieve a scaled score of 75 or above to pass. Those seeking certification have three opportunities to pass the test, after which special permission must be sought to retake the exam.

Radiologic Technologist Specializations

  • Some radiographers choose to specialize in specific types of imaging or technology. Diversifying their practice increases the number and quality of opportunities available. Mammography is a type of medical imaging in which radiographers specialize in capturing images of a woman's breast to check for cancer. Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, technologists create medical images through the combination of magnetic fields and radiofrequency pulses, while nuclear medicine technologists apply radiopharmaceuticals -- radioactive agents that are introduced into the body -- and imaging technology to focus on how internal organs function.

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