Radiology is the branch of medical science that specializes in internal imaging. This can involve the use of high-energy radiation or other technologies, including ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) scanning, radio waves, nuclear magnetic resonance, magnetic image resonance (MRI) and digital imaging technology. It also includes the use of radiant energy for therapeutic purposes, such as the treatment of cancer.
The practice of radiology requires skilled technicians at all levels of education. A certificate or an associate degree in radiology can qualify one as an entry-level technician. A bachelor’s or master’s degree makes even more positions in the field of radiology accessible.
At the highest end of the spectrum is the position of radiologist, a physician who interprets imagery. According to the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology, there are currently over 600 accredited formal training programs in the field of radiology. More than half the states in the U.S. also require certification with the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, approximately 182,000 people were employed as radiologic technologists and technicians in 2004. Opportunities for employment in this field are expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations during the decade. Candidates who are qualified to operate more than one type of imaging technology will be in even higher demand.
Radiologic technologists and technicians are often referred to as radiographers. Working under the instructions and supervision of a physician, they operate the imaging technology and work directly with patients, explaining procedures and positioning them safely and correctly in relation to the imaging device.
Radiologists are physicians who specialize in internal imagery, or in diagnosis or therapy using radiologic technology. These positions require an MD as well as additional specialty training in radiology. Radiologists can also choose a more specific specialty, such as mammography, MRI, or abdominal imaging.
Sonographers operate diagnostic imaging equipment, which uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of the human body.
Ultrasound technicians use ultrasound technology to create images of patients that are used by physicians to diagnose and treat various medical conditions. Although most commonly known for its use during pregnancy, ultrasound technology is used in other medical fields, such as neurology, cardiology and mammography.
Are you looking to advance in imaging science or change careers in the medical field? If you currently hold an associate degree or a certificate in an allied health area, consider advancing to a bachelors level degree in medical imaging science.