X-Ray Technician Career Outlook
If you are thinking about becoming an X-ray technician and want to find out if this is a good career choice, then you are thinking ahead. Too many people choose a career based on what it entails or what it pays, but few stop to think whether there is actually going to be a job available for them when they have completed their schooling.
Luckily for those who are training to become X-ray technicians, all studies show that there will be an increase in demand for those who are trained and educated in using X-ray equipment as well as other diagnostic imaging machines. Part of the demand is due to the fact that many current X-ray technicians are expected to retire. The other part contributing to the rise in demand for technicians has to do with the aging population and the need for diagnostic imaging to help treat patients who are suffering from afflictions associated with aging, such as osteoporosis and heart disease.
As an X-ray technician, your duties would include preparing a patient for an X-ray, ensuring that metal items are removed, and explaining the procedure so the patient feels comfortable. You then help to position the patient and equipment so you can get the right image of the anatomy, and then drape the patient with lead sheets to protect areas that aren’t being X-rayed.
After the images are taken, you answer any further questions the patient has, and then you ensure that the X-rays are delivered to the radiologist, physician, or nurse practitioner in charge. They will be responsible for discussing the results with the patient. Overall your days will be busy, but you will always get to work with new people and learn new things.
In 2008, there were approximately 214,700 technicians employed in the United States, and through 2018 that number is expected to increase by an impressive 17%. It is important to note though that in many cases X-rays are being replaced by CT scans and MRIs, which are more accurate and detailed. Those who take the time to enhance their training to include other types of diagnostic imaging technology will be in higher demand than those who work with X-rays alone.
The majority of X-ray technicians work in hospitals, and those who work hard and smart can work their way up to become specialists or department coordinators. You could even become the department head of the entire diagnostic imaging center, if you are willing to take additional management courses to improve your skills.
To become an X-ray technician you would require one to two years of training at a vocational school or college. You may also choose to add another year of training to become an X-ray technologist, which would make you more qualified and you can command a higher salary. Consider learning a few other diagnostic skills, such as CT or mammography at the same time, as this will ensure that you get a great job and are always in demand.
Overall the job outlook for X-ray technicians is very good, and no matter where you live in the US you can likely find a great job in this field at your local hospital or diagnostic imaging center. If you are thinking about moving, then consider major metropolitan areas where there are several large hospitals, as this will ensure that there will be jobs available for you when you finish your training.
If you think that a career as an X-ray technician is right for you then it’s time to find a good school that can give you the training and education you need to land your first great job. Don’t wait too long, as the sooner you get started, the sooner you will have the perfect job.