Radiation therapists treat patients with radiation to eliminate and shrink cancer. The treatment may be used alone or in conjunction with chemotherapy and surgery. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 33 states require licensure of radiation therapists to practice. The salary range of a radiation therapist was between $53,297 and $73,696 as of December 2010, according to PayScale.
A candidate must have an associate or bachelor’s degree in radiography before beginning training in radiation therapy, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Radiography courses include anatomy and physiology, patient care, radiologic procedures, radiologic equipment and radiologic exposure and safety procedures. The prospective therapist may complete a bachelor’s degree program in radiation therapy without the need for a certificate program.
A certificate program trains those with a radiography degree to transition to radiation therapist. The certificate program can take 12 months to complete and instructs the student in radiation therapy procedures and the science of the treatment. Students also study anatomy and physiology, computer courses, physics and mathematics.
A radiation therapist may obtain certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. While certification may not be necessary for all positions as a radiation therapist, some employers may require it. To qualify for certification, the applicant must meet education requirements. Candidates who meet these must pass a certification examination. The exam tests the candidate’s knowledge of radiation therapy procedures, such as treatment plans and delivery, radiation oncology and radiation protection.
Continuing education is a requirement for certification renewal. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, renewal requires the candidate to complete 24 credits in radiation therapy. Continuing education also keeps the therapist up to date on the latest developments in treatment methods. Employers may not require candidates to renew after the initial certification.