If you or a loved one is having a medical crisis, your time spent at the hospital may pass by in a blur. Any tests or procedures that were performed may all blend together, including the results. In a medical crisis, you may not remember your nurse, the kind tech that gave you a warm blanket, or even your Physician’s name.
In healthcare, the primary focus is on the patient and their health. X-ray Techs are part of the dedicated and skilled teams of healthcare workers that provide the diagnostic testing necessary for such care. Also known as Radiographers or Radiologic Techs, X-ray Techs are responsible for taking the x-ray films, or images, as ordered by the patient’s Physician.
This field is expected to increase
By 17% until 2018
How are X-rays taken? Discovered by accident in 1895, X-rays images are an important diagnostic tool for Physicians and Surgeons. To produce an X-ray, the patient’s body is first shielded except for the area of focus (for example, the patient’s leg). Behind the patient’s body is a film detector, similar to camera film.
A concentrated x-ray photon beam is directed at the area of focus on the patient’s body. Because our soft tissue cannot absorb high energy rays, these pass through. Bone and dense areas do absorb the rays. A film detector, behind the patient, is then affected by the rays that pass through. The rays that pass through soft tissues show up as black areas on the film. Those areas were rays were absorbed, such as bone show up as white areas on the film.
The resulting X-ray allows Physicians and Surgeons to see inside of a patient, as if their flesh was invisible. This allows them to diagnose a broken bone, cavities, even see a foreign object that may have been swallowed.
Where do X-ray Technicians work? You can find X-ray Techs employed in hospitals, doctors offices, nursing homes and even dental offices. X-ray Techs are also employed by imaging centers, specialty centers such as cancer hospitals, and diagnostic laboratories. Over half of the X-ray Techs currently work in hospitals.
How does the X-ray Technician know what x-rays to order? Only the patient’s Physician is qualified to order the diagnostic tests that are performed on a patient. The X-ray Tech receives these orders, obtains the x-rays and provides the results to the doctor to interpret. The Physician will speak to the patient about any positive or negative findings on the diagnostic tests.
Are there requirements to become an X-ray Technician? In this field, you will be working with people who are in pain, scared, confused, vulnerable or stressed. You must have solid communication skills, compassion and patience while working with these patients, to convey directions or speak with them and their family.
This career will require you to have physical stamina. As an X-ray Tech you will be in daily contact with patients who may be unable to turn over or stand on their own, requiring you to lift or turn them. You should be able to lift 50 pounds comfortably. Performing the tasks of an X-ray Technician may also require you to be on your feet for long periods of time, as well as kneel at a bedside. The equipment you will be using to obtain the X-rays can oftentimes be heavy, requiring you to have upper body strength.
How can I become an X-ray Technician? You can become an X-ray Technician through a vocational school or certificate program. These typically last from 21-24 months. You may also obtain your Associate’s Degree, a two year degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree, a four-year degree.
It is very important to choose a program that is accredited. The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology provides accreditation on formal training programs and schools in this field. Once you complete your education, most states require you to become licensed and have requirements you must meet before you can become licensed.
Are there many jobs available in this field? Our population continues to increase. In addition, our elderly population is increasing, tripling from three million in the 1900’s to a projected eighty million by the middle of the next century. To care for the ever-increasing population as well as the specific needs of the elderly, the healthcare field is rapidly growing. Healthcare support jobs, such as an X-ray Tech, are projected to increase more than any other occupational group until 2020.
It is estimated that 5.6 million new jobs
Will be available for healthcare workers
and social services.
What is the salary of an X-ray Technician? As with any career, where you live can have an impact on your salary. For instance, you may find states such as Nevada, Maryland and Massachusetts offer the highest salary for this field, averaging around $68,000.00 per year. Rural areas typically pay lower salaries than metropolitan areas, while specialty centers offer some of the highest salaries in this field.
The average salary for an X-ray Tech is around $53,000 in the United States. The top ten percent enjoy a salary of around $75,000 annually, making this career a highly desirable, and lucrative, field to join.
There are many benefits to becoming an X-ray Technician. Those in this field enjoy job security. Because the healthcare field continues to grow, this field is expected to expand by 15% by the year 2016.
Another benefit to becoming an X-ray Tech is the impressive salary range. X-ray Techs are paid in the top 45% of earnings in the country. Some metropolitan districts in Massachusetts and California offer salaries of around $70,000 per year, well above national average. Along with their salary, X-ray Techs typically enjoy dental insurance, medical benefits and vision plans from their employers.
Becoming an X-ray Tech also offers room for advancement and promotion. Within the healthcare system, X-ray Techs can become an administrator, supervisor or specialist, increasing their salary base by around $4000.00 annually.