Radiographers work with x-ray equipment and other imaging equipment to take detailed internal pictures of the human body. These images are important because they enable physicians to diagnose health problems and save lives more easily. Becoming a radiographer requires much effort and planning; however, if you have good academic skills, good attention to detail, and the ability to help others feel at ease, radiography could be a good career for you.
Take college preparatory courses in high school such as biology, chemistry and advanced chemistry. Take Advanced Placement (AP) English and foreign language courses also. It is important that you excel so you can convince prospective colleges that you have the necessary skills, dedication and focus to successfully major in radiography.
Decide which speciality you will pursue within the field of radiography. This will enable you to choose a college which focuses on your preferred speciality. For instance, there are specialities such as cardiovascular-interventional radiography, mammography, nuclear medicine, sonography, diagnostic radiography, computerised tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Attend college and major in radiography. Choose a radiography speciality. Complete the required coursework. Complete the required 300-hour radiography practicum experience where a licensed radiographer will supervise you. These practicum experiences are usually done in either a hospital or a doctor's office.
Pass the required written licensure examination given by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (AART). This examination includes sections on topics such as radiographic procedure, positional terminology, image evaluation, equipment operation, patient education and radiation protection. Online test preparation courses are available to assist you in preparing for this examination. Talking to others who have passed this examination might also prove useful.
Apply for radiography licensure. Contact the state board in whichever state you hope to practice and request the application materials. Fill out the application and submit other requested documents such as your academic transcripts, the record of your supervised practicum and the results of your written licensure examination.
Work as a radiographer after attainment of licensure. Choose from among several work settings such as outpatient clinics, hospital radiology departments or hospital emergency rooms. Also, if you do not want to work in a patient care setting, pursue an alternative career working in a sales office, administrative office or medical diagnostic equipment company.
Take continuing education coursework in radiography to keep skills current. Complete at least 24 hours of continuing education coursework every two years to maintain your license. Take continuing education coursework at a local community college or online through the AART.
Talk to a radiographer and ask what a typical day on the job is like. That will help you get a sense of whether this career is a fit for you.
After attaining licensure, constantly monitor state continuing education requirements to know if there are any changes in the requirements for maintaining licensure. Continual monitoring of requirements is important if you want to maintain licensure.