FAQ: How Much Time Does It Take To Be an X-Ray Tech?

Radiologic technologists, also known as x-ray technicians, support other medical professionals in diagnosing illnesses and injuries. Using imaging equipment, x-ray technicians position patients and take s of the body. Through their work, patients receive the medical care they need to heal and thrive.

Cambridge College offers students interested in becoming x-ray technicians our Radiologic Technology program. Through this program, you’ll learn everything you need to know for a successful x-ray tech career. Keep reading for answers to your questions!

approximately two years


What are the education options for X-ray technologists?

There are two primary education paths for X-ray technologists: certificate programs for radiologic technologists and associate degrees in radiologic technology. Some states require X-ray technologists to have an associate degree to get an X-ray tech job, while others dont have any official licensure requirements before you can start working. When deciding which type of program to pursue, its important to understand the specifics of each option:

Certificate for radiologic technologists

Certificate programs emphasize the background information you should know before operating X-ray equipment. They review the basic procedures X-ray techs perform and establish familiarity with X-ray equipment, terminology and best practices when working with patients. Course content can include:

Some programs also offer an externship where you learn from an experienced radiologic technician in a clinical environment and use X-ray equipment with patients.

Certificate programs are ideal for people who live in states that dont require an associate degree for licensure. Theyre also a good choice for people who already have an associate or bachelors degree in another field and want to specialize or switch careers to become an x-ray technologist.

Associate degree in radiologic technology

An associate degree in radiologic technology is the standard education requirement to become a licensed X-ray tech. The curriculum of an associate degree covers more topics and provides an in-depth review of advanced X-ray technician duties, plus and general education courses in the associate degree program. Associate programs may cover similar topics as certificate programs but provide more specialized information and hands-on guidance. Classes for radiologic technology associate degrees often include:

Associate degree programs for radiology also require all students to complete clinicals, which are courses that occur in a clinical setting and involve practicing under the supervision of a licensed technologist. Its common to complete multiple clinicals in different environments to expand your skill set.

How long does it take to become an X-ray tech?

It can take one to two years to become an X-ray technician depending on the type of education program you choose. Certificate programs for X-ray technologists typically last 14 months, though some have an accelerated pathway that allows you to complete the course early. More extensive degree programs for X-ray techs usually last for two years. Some programs offer part-time night classes that spread the course content over a longer period, making it easier to work or care for a family during your X-ray tech education.

If you already have a college degree, you may be able to apply some of your existing college credits to an X-ray technologist program and complete the remaining coursework in only a few months. Check with the college providing the certificate or degree to learn about transferring credits.

Do X-ray techs need a license?

In some states, you need a state license to practice as an X-ray tech alongside your ARRT credential. Getting licensed usually involves completing a background check, submitting proof of education, filling out an application and paying a fee. Before pursing a career as an X-ray tech, research if your state requires state licensure, ARRT certification, both or neither.

How do X-ray techs earn certification?

X-ray techs earn certification through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). They offer a general certification for radiologic technologists, which is a common state requirement to work as an X-ray tech. To earn ARRT certification in radiography, you must meet these requirements:

Once you have at least two years of clinical experience as an X-ray technician, you can apply for advanced certification in subspecialties, such as:

What are the continuing education options for X-ray techs?

The ARRT requires X-ray technicians to complete 24 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain certification. Continuing education for X-ray techs may include lectures, courses at a community college, online classes, workshops and self-paced readings. Every 10 years, certified X-ray techs complete more extensive continuing education requirements to learn about relevant industry developments that occurred after their initial certification exam.

What skills do X-ray techs need to learn?

When preparing to become an X-ray tech, you develop a variety of technical abilities and professional skills. Some of the skills to emphasize throughout your education and training include:

Where can X-ray technicians find jobs?

Once X-ray technicians complete their education, certification and licensure, they can start looking for work in any medical setting that uses X-ray machines to diagnose or treat patients. As a qualified X-ray technician, you can consider working at many types of facilities, including:

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