Using radiation to visualize the interior of a patient’s body without surgery is not a new technique. In fact, x-rays have been used for many years to identify broken bones and other internal issues. However, today’s healthcare professionals have many other techniques available to them that allow them to make much better diagnoses based on the information they are able to gather.
What Types of Jobs Can I Get With a Medical Imaging Science Degree?
There are several job classifications that fall under medical imaging science, including:
Radiation Therapists – These professionals administer radiation in the treatment of disease. They use radiation to eradicate cancer and other deadly illnesses. Radiation therapists must be able to properly position patients and calculate radiation dosages as well as read images that are taken prior to beginning treatment.
Radiographers – Radiographers create images used in computerized tomography, mammograms, magnetic resonance imaging, cardiovascular tests, and other areas of medical testing and treatment.
Sonography or Ultrasound Technicians – These technicians, like radiographers, produce images, but these images are based on sonar technology, or the use of sound waves to produce images of a patient’s body.
Nuclear Medicine Technologists – Nuclear medicine involves the use of radioactive materials to conduct tests, such as giving a patient a quick-dissolving radioactive dose of medication to allow imaging to track its progress through the patient’s system.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI Technicians – These specialists utilize radio waves and magnetic fields to created detailed pictures of internal processes, tissues, and organs.
Computed Tomography Specialists – Known as “CT” or “CAT” scans, these x-ray tests create images from different angles to give physicians a three-dimensional picture of a patient’s internal organs.
How Do I Get A Medical Imaging Degree?
You should first decide which area of medical imaging interests you. Once you have decided, you can easily choose a program to gain certification in that field.
An entry-level job in any of these fields can often be obtained through training in a one-year certificate program at a local vocational school. In fact, these programs often help with job placement at local hospitals. However, these jobs will not pay as well as the jobs obtained with a four-year medical imaging degree.
Many colleges and universities offer four-year degrees in various medical imaging areas. Most states require certification in all levels of medical imaging, as well as continuing education courses to maintain certification status.
How Much Will I Earn As a Medical Imaging Technician or Specialist?
The type of medical imaging you work in will determine your salary. Here are some examples of typical medical imaging jobs, education requirements, median salaries, and job outlook, all according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Diagnostic Medical Sonographers. With an associate’s degree, diagnostic medical sonographers can be expected to earn a median salary of $64,380. Job growth is expected to be very high at 44 percent through 2020.
Radiologic Technologists – The median pay with an associate’s degree is listed as $54,340 per year, with a job growth rate of 28 percent projected.
Nuclear Medicine Technologists – The BLS lists the median salary of a nuclear medical technologist with an associate’s degree at $68,560 with a projected job growth rate of 19 percent.
Cardiovascular Technologists – Technologists working with cardiovascular imaging can expect to earn $49,410 per year as a median salary and will enjoy a job growth rate of 29 percent.
Of course, your salary and job opportunities will be determined by where you work and your years of experience as well as your education level. Technicians with associate’s degrees generally earn less than those with bachelor’s degrees.
Medical imaging is a growing and changing field that can be expected to change even more in the future as new technologies are developed. It provides a great career path for someone who is interested in being involved in the healthcare industry and wants to develop very specialized skills for use in diagnosing and treating illnesses.