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Radiologic Technologist vs. Radiologist

If you plan to establish yourself in one of the top careers in the health sector, it is one of the easiest things to do. With the rate of demand in healthcare needs, there is a need for healthcare providers to increase their services. Radiology is an interesting field to build a solid career in this field.

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However, an exciting question usually arises: what is the difference between radiologic technologists and radiologists? While they sound like similar careers, they are different. To give you a better comparison of the topic, we have compiled the information you need.

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Who is a Radiologist?

A radiologist is a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) or medical doctor (MD) who is specialized in radiology. There are diverse sub-specialties under radiology, which include nuclear, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, and pediatric radiology.

Although these sub-specialties are varied, the prominent role of the radiologist is to interpret diagnostic images that would help to make a medical diagnosis.

You must have an in-depth knowledge of the diagnostic tools at your disposal (an X-ray, for instance) and the systems governing body.

Other sub-specialties involving the direct treatment of patients include radiation oncology or interventional radiology. Again, these professionals work together with other physicians and communicate their findings to other doctors handling the patient. They also recommend treatment to patients.

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Who is a radiologic technologist?

A radiologic technologist is also known as rad tech or radiologic tech. They must capture images interpreted by a radiologist for diagnosis. They work closely with patients and have a vast knowledge of operating and maintaining highly technical and specialized equipment.

A radiologic technologist is a trained imaging technologist working in a radiology department to perform imaging tasks. Radiologists typically supervise them while supporting the medical team in carrying out the diagnostic imaging procedure. Note the following points about the two careers:

  • Radiologists must attend medical school, while radiologic technologists can start their journey after undergoing a two-year associate degree program in radiology technology. However, with additional education, a radiologic technologist can specialize in MRI, cardiovascular, or mammography imaging.
  • Anyone who wishes to help others and has a knack for working with technology may become a radiologic technologist. According to the US News and World Report, radiologic technologist is ranked as #24 in Best Healthcare Support Jobs for 2023.

Radiologic Technologist Program 

Obtaining a career as a radiologic technologist does not follow a long process as that of a radiologist. You can complete a radiologic technology associate degree program in two years. However, you can take the step further by obtaining professional certification via the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).

The licensure requirements are different across the United States. According to ARRT, over 75% of American states have laws governing the practice of radiologic technology. For regional licensure, ARRT’s examinations are effective in 35 states, including New York, Texas, and California. Therefore, you may need to research the requirements of the state or region you are to practice.

In addition, programs and curricula can vary by institution or even state. But their schools have a blend of instructive coursework and practical lab work, which culminated in a supervised clinical experience. Obtaining an associate degree and certifications requires precision, time, and effort.

Associate vs. Bachelor’s Degree in Radiology Technology

The American Registry of Radiologic Technology mandates that students complete an accredited educational program, including associate, bachelor’s, or graduate-level, to be eligible for professional certification. The ARRT board acknowledges that a four-year bachelor’s degree needs more extensive coursework and clinical training. The essence is for the individual to enhance their earning potential and career prospects.

With a bachelor’s program, the student may obtain superior training in certain techniques or technologies, such as CT, mammography, or nuclear medicine. Students wishing to enter a med school to become a radiologist would need to go through a bachelor’s degree.

Admission Requirements for Radiologic Technology School

To enter a radiologic technologist school, you must present a secondary school transcript, completed application, personal statement, and fee. Specific prerequisites classes (biology, for instance), a physical examination, background check, or test (TOEFL or IELTS for non-native English speakers)

Radiologic Technologist vs. Radiologist
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Radiologic Technologist Schools and Associate Degrees

Here are schools and their associate degree programs in radiology technology in the US:

Bellevue College

  • Location: Bellevue, WA
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 23 months
  • Estimated Tuition: Resident ($116.05 per credit); non-resident ($299.12 per credit)

Located in Bellevue, WA, this college offers associate in arts (AA) degree in radiologic technology. Students acquire more than 1,800 hours of clinical training and broad experience.

They provide such courses as introduction to radiologic technology, positioning and related anatomy, radiographic physics, advanced radiographic procedures, and patient care in radiology. To earn a degree in the program, students must maintain a minimum of a C in all courses. Upon completion, students should sit for the ARRT exam.

Tarrant County College

  • Location: Fort Worth, TX
  • Accreditation: Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT); Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $4,096

This school is located in Forth Worth, TX, and provides an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in radiologic technology. Students use computerized equipment to produce human anatomy, physiology, and pathology images.

The programs offered comprise 64 credits, including an introduction to radiology, essential medical terminology, radiographic imaging equipment, intermediate radiographic procedure, advanced medical imaging, radiation biology and protection, and many clinical practica.

Chaffey College

  • Location: Rancho Cucamonga, CA
  • Accreditation: Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JCERT); Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $46 per unit

Based in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, Chaffey College provides an associate degree program with 105 training units. It also offers concurrent clinical education at facilities affiliated with it. Classes include radiographic pathology, human anatomy, human physiology, radiologic positioning, patient care for radiologic technologists, radiographic imaging, pharmacology and venipuncture for imaging, and radiologic science and protection.

You must be in good medical condition and complete a health examination to apply. You must also complete two biology courses before qualifying for admission.

Foothill College

  • Location: Los Altos, CA
  • Accreditation: Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT), and the California Department of Public Health, Radiation Health Branch (RHB); ACCJC
  • Expected Time to Completion: 23 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $5,200

Established in Los Altos, CA, Foothill College provides a 23-month associate degree in radiologic technology. Programs start during the summer of the first year, covering eight terms, and finish in the spring of the second year. Students complete three practica at the end of the second year and learn about professional development in radiology.

Courses include introduction to allied health programs, fundamentals of radiologic technology, orientation to radiologic technology, applied radiographic technology, radiographic pathology, and principles of radiologic technology. Together, they are 118.5 units. Lectures, supervised practical experience, and on-campus labs are means of imparting knowledge in Foothill.

Greenville Technical College

  • Location: Greenville, SC
  • Accreditation: Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT); Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: In-county ($277 per credit); out-of-county ($294 per credit); out-of-state ($470 per credit)

Located in Greenville, SC, this college provides an associate program in radiologic technology in two phases. The first phase allows students to complete general education coursework; the second comprises specialized radiologic technology coursework. Admission into the first phase does not guarantee admission into the second phase, but your academic performance does.

The program consists of 82 credits and includes courses such as medical terminology, anatomy & physiology, introduction to radiography, radiographic procedures, radiographic imaging fundamentals, radiation biology, and radiographic pathology.

Metropolitan Community College

  • Location: Kansas City, Missouri
  • Accreditation: Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT); HLC
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: In-district ($116 per credit); out-of-district ($228 per credit); out-of-state ($307 per credit)

Located in Kansas City, Missouri, Metropolitan Community College provides an associate of applied science (AAS) in radiologic technology. This prepares them for entry-level employment in the healthcare community.

The program consists of 78 to 88 credits with courses like anatomy and physiology, fundamentals of radiologic technology, principles of radiographic imaging, digital image acquisition, medical terminology, and cross-sectional anatomy. You must obtain a C in all your coursework to qualify for certification.

Radiologic Technology Schools and Bachelor’s Degrees

To obtain a bachelor’s degree in radiology technology, the following schools are recommended:

University of Southern Indiana

  • Location: Evansville, IN
  • Accreditation: Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months
  • Estimated Tuition: Indiana resident ($274.96 per credit); non-resident ($667.89 per credit)

Established in Evansville, the University of Southern Indiana (USI) offers a bachelor’s in radiologic and imaging sciences. This provides students with advanced knowledge, requisite skills, and innovative technologies to become successful in their careers. They can land entry-level jobs as radiographers upon graduation.

The curriculum covers radiographic exposure, CT-MRI physics and instrumentation, introduction to invasive imaging procedure, radiographic pathology, radiographic biology, digital radiography and imaging informatics, and professional development and literacy in imaging sciences.

University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill

  • Location: Chapel Hill, NC
  • Accreditation: Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months
  • Estimated Tuition: NC resident ($34,932); non-resident ($62,325)

The University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill, provides a bachelor of science (BS) in radiologic science, allowing students to prepare for a career in the health community. They can choose between the diagnostic medical sonography concentration (DMS) and the diagnostic and interventional radiology concentration (DIR).

The curriculum covers cardiac catheterization studies, orthopedics, vascular imaging, and pediatrics units.

Radiologic Technologist Jobs

Although you would spend a shorter time in school, your earning potential as a radiologic technologist is robust. As stated by the BLS, the 2021 median yearly salary for radiologic technologists and technicians was $61,370. Their job outlook is also vital. From 2020 to 2030, the BLS projected a nine percent growth in employment compared to the national average for all jobs.

In addition, the following job specialties can help you pursue a core education and training in rad techs:

  • Nuclear medicine
  • Computed tomography
  • Bone densitometry
  • Mammography
  • Fluoroscopy
  • Sonography
  • MRI technology

Conclusion about Radiologic Technologist vs. Radiologist

Obtaining a certification in radiologic technology is among the decisions you can make today. With the above information and the distinction between a radiologic technologist and a radiologist, choosing your career path in your chosen field is made easy.

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