X-Ray Techs: What They Do and How to Become One

An X-ray technician career is one of the stable and essential roles in the ever-growing field of healthcare. Also known as Radiologic Technologists, X-ray techs play a vital role in the healthcare industry. So if you’re looking to pursue the career, here’s an in-depth guide on how to become a radiologic technologist.

What do X-ray techs do?

X-ray techs or radiologic technologists produce diagnostic images or X-rays by correctly positioning someone’s body and capturing an image. These X-rays are medical images that help doctors detect various health ailments such as bone fractures, tumors, specific injuries, foreign objects, and some abnormalities.

A massive chunk of the job requires X-ray techs to assist patients in taking their X-rays or MRIs in a clinic or hospital. They use and maintain various medical equipment to take the said medical images. In addition, they manage necessary patient records.

Since X-ray techs work closely with patients, they must have the soft skills that go hand in hand with the responsibility. They need the communication and interpersonal skills to set expectations and relay information to both parties clearly.

X-ray tech work environment

Most X-ray techs work in hospitals. Other facilities that require their aid include clinics, diagnostic labs, and urgent care centers.

Typically, X-ray techs may need to work during holidays, weekends, or overnight to tend to patients with immediate needs. They work long hours and spend most of their time on their feet, standing, adjusting machines, and the patient to capture accurate imaging positions.

X-ray tech salary

Depending on location, the salary of an X-ray tech may vary. Another factor to consider is the experience and the type of position they have. But on average, X-ray techs make $20.71 an hour, according to PayScale.

Skills of X-ray technicians

Since X-ray techs work in the medical field, they must have the knowledge and awareness of specialized equipment. They need to undergo some special training and earn certification to start the practice. These will help aspiring X-ray techs to instill the following knowledge and skills:

  • X-ray imaging

This is the very essence of the job—taking X-ray images of the patients. This procedure includes the preparation of equipment, patient, and image processing for later diagnosis.

  • Radiology

This is the branch of medicine concerned with X-ray imaging in the diagnosis and treatment of health concerns. This is the core of your profession, which you will take by heart in your training.

  • Patient care

Patient care refers to the necessary procedure to ensure patients’ safety and comfort during the X-ray examination. This is a primary responsibility of X-ray techs since they deal with patients with underlying health conditions.

  • CPR

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is a necessary life skill that you need, especially as a healthcare professional. CPR refers to the emergency lifesaving procedure that is performed when the heart stops beating. You may learn how to do proper CPR with this online course.

  • Patient preparation

This is a part of the procedure, ensuring the patient undergoes the right protocols before the X-ray or MRI examination.

  • Vital signs measurement

This skill is necessary to have when working in the medical field. It includes the measurement of body temperature, pulse rate, respiration rate, and blood pressure.

  • Radiation protection

Since X-ray produces radiation that can harm your health and the patient’s, you need the right knowledge to protect yourself and the patient.

  • Injections

You won’t necessarily draw blood from the patients. But this is a subject that can be learned through your training.

  • Patient flow

Knowledge of patient flow in the medical facility is vital since most X-ray techs work in multi-faceted clinics and diagnostic centers. You need to know precisely the requirements and internal processes that your patient must undergo.

  • Mathematical skills

Your math skills matter during accurate calculations of the right doses of chemicals needed for imaging procedures.

  • Excellent communication skills

Since you are working closely with patients and supervising doctors, you need excellent written verbal communication skills to communicate and liaise the necessary medical documents.

  • Computer literacy

X-ray techs use advanced computer technologies to assist them with the imaging procedure. So being computer literate is a necessity in this job.

  • Relationship building

X-ray techs directly deal with patients, so they must have effective interpersonal skills to make them feel comfortable during the procedure.

  • Teamwork

X-ray techs work hand in hand with the patient and supervising doctors. This requires them to become a team player for an accurate and efficient procedure.

  • Technical skills

You will manage various medical machinery and equipment in this job, so you have to be comfortable and at ease maintaining them.

  • Attention to detail

You need to ensure correct protocol procedures to obtain clear and usable images. This also applies to the prevention of radiation exposure.

  • Physical stamina

The job requires the physical stamina to move around your feet for long hours. You will also assist patients who might need some help in mobility. 

These hard and soft skills work hand in hand to help you perform the job efficiently. To help you gear up for the career, here is an array of Skill Success online courses to help you brush up on those necessary soft skills.

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How to become a radiologic technologist or X-ray technician

Here’s the complete step-by-step guide on how to become a radiologic technologist:

1. Have a minimum of an associate’s degree and get the right coursework.

Typically, an associate’s degree is enough to become an X-ray tech. However, hiring managers navigate more towards hiring Bachelor’s degree holders. Regardless, you will need the proper coursework that covers biology, physics, imaging, and physiology.

In addition, you will also have to complete your internship related to the coursework. Ensure that you take up a radiologic technologist program to any school that’s accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technologists (JRCERT) or the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). These programs typically last for up to 24 months.

2. Get your certification.

Once you have finished your educational requirements, you should now secure your certification from various governing bodies.

Here’s where you can get your X-ray tech certification:

3. Secure your license.

Before you get to practice, you may need to get licensed first. This may vary according to your state. You may check if your state requires this by visiting the ARRRT’s website.

Those are the information you need to know as you pursue a career as an X-ray tech. To help you more with your application, here’s an online class guaranteed to jumpstart your career, Goal Setting: My Exact Goal Setting Blueprint for Success.

Ready to gear up your qualifications into becoming an x-ray tech? Click here to get started.

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