What Does a Radiologic Technologist Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

A day in the life of a radiologic technologist: Explain procedures to patients; have patience and empathy, science and math skills; keep track of and organize patients' records

The Balance / Maritsa Patrinos

Radiologic technologists use diagnostic imaging equipment to help physicians identify illnesses and injuries. They may use x-ray equipment, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, or mammography to perform X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, or mammograms.

Radiologic Technologist Duties & Responsibilities

Radiological technologists can specialize in one type of diagnostic imaging technology or in several. They're often referred to by a title that reflects the technology in which they specialize. For example, a radiologic technologist who specializes in computed tomography is usually called a CT Technician. Some job duties and responsibilities are common among them:

  • Follow physicians' orders regarding the areas of the body of which images are needed.
  • Operate and adjust imaging equipment.
  • Explain procedures to patients.
  • Position patients and equipment.
  • Follow procedures that prevent unnecessary exposure to radiation to themselves, as well as to the patient.
  • Keep track of and organize patient records.

Radiologic technologists work closely with radiologists and other physicians and play a key role in diagnosing patients' medical conditions. They must be able to position patients and use equipment skillfully to capture useful, high-quality diagnostic images.

Radiologic Technologist Salary

The highest-paid radiologic technologists worked for the federal government in 2018, earning an average median salary in this particular sector of $65,230, about $31.36 an hour. This is more than the median salary for all radiologic technologists in general.

  • Median Annual Salary: $59,520 ($28.62/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $86,350 ($41.51/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $40,630 ($19.53/hour)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018

Education, Training, & Certification

A formal training program in radiography must be completed to work in this profession, and other education can be required as well.

  • Education: Most people entering this occupation have earned an associate degree, but some become a radiologic technologist with a certificate or a bachelor's degree. Earning an associate's degree generally takes about two years. Programs consist of a combination of classroom and clinical training. Radiography students take courses in pathology, anatomy, radiation physics and protection, image evaluation, and patient care. The educational requirements to become a radiologic technologist are comparable to the requirements to become a registered nurse.
  • Licensing: Most states require a license for radiologic technologists. Candidates generally must have graduated from a program that is accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology and may take a written examination.

Radiologic Technologist Skills & Competencies

You'll need soft skills to succeed in this occupation.

  • Communication skills: You must be able to accurately and compassionately explain to patients what they're about to experience. You'll also have to succinctly convey information to physicians and staff.
  • Patience and empathy: Patients are likely to be stressed, uncomfortable, frightened, and not on their best behavior.
  • Physical stamina: You'll spend many hours on your feet, and may have to physically assist patients in a number of circumstances.
  • Mathematical ability: You should be detail-oriented, and should be good at science and math.

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment in this field will grow 12% through 2026, which is faster than the overall employment growth of 7% for all occupations in the country.

Work Environment

The majority of radiological technicians work in hospitals, and others work in doctors' offices, medical and diagnostic laboratories, and outpatient facilities.

Radiologic technologists are at risk for contracting illnesses from their patients, but no more so than other healthcare professionals. Exposure to radiation is another risk, but the protections that are in place, such as lead gloves and aprons, decrease its likelihood. Radiologic technologists are generally monitored for lifetime exposure by wearing registering badges during all working hours.

Work Schedule

Jobs in this field are usually full-time positions, but emergencies can happen around the clock. Those who are responsible for handling these emergencies must sometimes work odd hours, including weekends, evenings, and holidays.

How to Get the Job


Those certified in more than one diagnostic imaging procedure will have the best opportunities. Having multiple certifications can increase job prospects, as can graduating from an accredited program.


Use the Licensed Occupation Tool to learn about your state's licensing requirements. Requirements can vary by state.

Comparing Similar Jobs

Those interested in entering this field might also consider the following careers:

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018