Is there any Radiation Therapists or people studying Radiation therapy out there?

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DAVE in Noblesville, Indiana

76 months ago

Johnny in Spanish Fork, Utah said: I'm interested in studying radiation therapy or respiratory therapy. But I can't seem to find any Radiation therapists.

I want to find out what's this field all about, what do you do, your responsibilities, what type of education do you need, and the stress level of your job or studies.

Any help is appreciated. =]

lET ME KMOW IF U ARE STILL LOOKING FOR ANSWERS

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Niccole in Merrillville, Indiana

75 months ago

Hi, the location is acutally Homewood, IL.
I have been a therapist 13 years and the field is very different now with all the new technology.
The great things about the field are the pay (new grads coming out can get $25/hr), the hours (non mega hospitals) usually are 8-4:30pm clinics with call very rarely and weekends rare too. You usually have 2-3 docs on staff and a patient load of 30 per machine is very low stress. When u get into 45 per machine the stress level goes up. Education requirements are 2 yr certificate but if you search online and look at jobs that are posted most employers want you to have your Bachelors (which alot of us do).

the bad things are:it's hard to get a job in some regions where they have therapy schools like in Illinois and Northwest Indiana, Texas and Minnesota. Other than that the sky's the limit. BUT it is also very competitive to get into the program. Most programs only accept 10-14 students per year. Moving up the ladder is virtually non-existent. It is very hard to move up to supervisor. People usually stay in their jobs for years and lead therapist positions usually aren't available.

any other questions feel free.

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John in Buffalo, New York

75 months ago

Niccole in Merrillville, Indiana said: Hi, the location is acutally Homewood, IL.
I have been a therapist 13 years and the field is very different now with all the new technology.
The great things about the field are the pay (new grads coming out can get $25/hr), the hours (non mega hospitals) usually are 8-4:30pm clinics with call very rarely and weekends rare too. You usually have 2-3 docs on staff and a patient load of 30 per machine is very low stress. When u get into 45 per machine the stress level goes up. Education requirements are 2 yr certificate but if you search online and look at jobs that are posted most employers want you to have your Bachelors (which alot of us do).

the bad things are:it's hard to get a job in some regions where they have therapy schools like in Illinois and Northwest Indiana, Texas and Minnesota. Other than that the sky's the limit. BUT it is also very competitive to get into the program. Most programs only accept 10-14 students per year. Moving up the ladder is virtually non-existent. It is very hard to move up to supervisor. People usually stay in their jobs for years and lead therapist positions usually aren't available.

any other questions feel free.

In stand alone clinics that have an average patient load of 30, what is the staff head count ? (i.e.) Sec, PA, Nurse, Chief, Therapist etc.

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Niccole in Merrillville, Indiana

75 months ago

That always varies. It depends on the staffing needs and how many machine the clinic has, how many physicians, etc. There is no standard staff. For the hospital I work for we have 3 docs, 1.5 nurses, 5 therapists. No PA's. 3 receptionists, 1 secretary, 1 dosimetrist, 1.5 physicists and 1 lead therapist.

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Dave in Noblesville, Indiana

75 months ago

Niccole in Merrillville, Indiana said: That always varies. It depends on the staffing needs and how many machine the clinic has, how many physicians, etc. There is no standard staff. For the hospital I work for we have 3 docs, 1.5 nurses, 5 therapists. No PA's. 3 receptionists, 1 secretary, 1 dosimetrist, 1.5 physicists and 1 lead therapist.

We have one machine,average 20 patients.We only have a Dr.on Tuesday and Thursdays.We have 3.5 therapists,1 receptionist,1 nurse.Physic support 2x a week and the dosemitry is done remotely.We do alot of our own calcs and downing plans etc...

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Dave in Noblesville, Indiana

75 months ago

I think you are fine.I have been a Therapist for 20years and yes I have a B.A. All the ads say who are looking for therapist is that you need a bach.degree.Doesnt say in Radiation Therapy.Good luck

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JAIME in Portland, Oregon

75 months ago

I have been thinking about going back to school. I have been looking into Radiation and respiratory therapy. I am concerned about the night working with respiratory therapy since I have a family. I also need a job that would work with a military lifestyle. Any feedback would be appreciated.

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Dave in Noblesville, Indiana

75 months ago

I have not had any trouble but,the new grads are having some trouble. We have several schools in Indiana so that adds to the issue

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JAIME in Portland, Oregon

75 months ago

Just one more question! Could you tell me a little bit about your job? Likes and dislikes. Thank You

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sheila in New Delhi, India

75 months ago

I guess it may be tough in Indiana to find a job since there are so many schools in the region, but would you have any idea what the scope would be for the rest of the country, let say the east coast? And it seems as if the salary really varies across the country. if anyone has any info, i'd appreciate it. i have my bachelors in economics (1996), but i want to change careers to Radiation therapy. I just want to make sure I'm doing the right thing!

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dave in Noblesville, Indiana

75 months ago

Jamie,as far as likes and dislikes I think one of the big advantages is the hours.It is one of the clinical jobs in a hospital where there is no nights,weekends,or holidays.There is on-call but its voluntary and we hardly ever have a call-in.If you work in a small clinic,you get to think for yourself and you get to enjoy your patients as you are not running them through like it is an assembly line.I really prefer a smaller setting.The only problem with a small clinic is there is not much room for advancement but,I dont care a I have been a director of a large department and it really isnt fun.A large university setting will expose you to many things and I think its a good thing to see how a large department works.You will get to see all the special procedures that are available in Radiation Therapy as well as some interesting cases.

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Andrew Goraj in Orchard Park, New York

74 months ago

I was accepted to a school in N.Y. in which I will finish two more years for my B.A. in science/rad therapy. I just dont understand the disparity between annual salaries. I see some are making around 80,000 and some make about 40,000. Granted experience and geographical location are key factors, but was just wondering how much I could expect to make according to you guys in other parts of the country. I've been researching it and find that employers are only willing to dicuss salaries with people who are actually looking to apply for the position, so any real world example as been hard to come by. If anyone has any input that would be great. Thanks.

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Lauren in Augusta, Georgia

74 months ago

I was just wondering if any therapists out there that could tell me if there are any health risks to a career in radiation therapy. I am just a little concerned about radiation exposure. I also wanted to know what the job market is like. I will graduate in Georgia but I am willing to relocate to find work. I am trying to decide between a career in nursing or radiation therapy. I would appreciate any help that I can get.

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Sheila08 in New Delhi, India

74 months ago

this is to andrew and lauren,
I've noticed that both of you are yet to graduate. I have yet to begin! I am still contemplating if this is the right field to get into. I received my bachelors in economics in 1996, but today i really want to get into patient care. (something i should have done back then!) I was wondering what the course load is like for the radiation therapy programs.. What is the work outside of class like? does it take up your weekends as well? or are your weekends generally free? I've got two small kids today, that's why i ask.. i'd appreciate your help. thx!

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Lauren in Augusta, Georgia

74 months ago

Sheila08 in New Delhi, India said: this is to andrew and lauren,
I've noticed that both of you are yet to graduate. I have yet to begin! I am still contemplating if this is the right field to get into. I received my bachelors in economics in 1996, but today i really want to get into patient care. (something i should have done back then!) I was wondering what the course load is like for the radiation therapy programs.. What is the work outside of class like? does it take up your weekends as well? or are your weekends generally free? I've got two small kids today, that's why i ask.. i'd appreciate your help. thx!

The course load is heavy but I do know of some moms who were able to finish the program. It just takes alot of work and determination. Good luck!

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dave in Noblesville, Indiana

74 months ago

We have several students who are also mothers with small children.They seem to handle it very well.Like Lauren said,the course load is heavy but,dont let that stop you.

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Sheila08 in New Jersey

74 months ago

Great thx!

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Anita in Brampton, Ontario

74 months ago

hi guys, Could you please spare help.....again i guess. I am also going through site after sites to find info on radiation therapy. I've found out that its better to have your BA since you won't really qualify without it. I wonder how many years it would total including BA and certification plus internship etc... Also, what are the prerequists. I starting with a clean chit so no medical background at all. If anyone has any relevant info please please help! greatly appreciated.

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dave in Noblesville, Indiana

74 months ago

It will be four years but,you will not be getting summers off the last few years.Just google Radiation Therapy programs and you will find out the course reqirements.You can always do the certificate and then go back and get a BA.

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Anita in Brampton, Ontario

74 months ago

thanks Dave.

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dave in Noblesville, Indiana

74 months ago

No problem!!!

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Sheila08 in New Jersey

74 months ago

Hi Dave,
Does it really matter if you have a BA in a different field? It should be fine if I just go ahead and do my certificate right??

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dave in Noblesville, Indiana

74 months ago

I think you will be fine.Just make sure you finish one at some point.We have several schools in Indiana and only 1 or 2 offer a BA.I now work at a small hospital and I am the only one with a BA.We all take the same national boards so whats important is to pass the exam and be board certified.The only place you will have a problem is in a big facility that has a BA program.They hire thier own students anyway.Do the certificate,get a job,then finish your degree.Remember that when you are in clinicals,the therapists you are working with know right away if they would want to offer you a job if one came up.Its a very small group of individuals and they know who the good students are and who the bad ones are.Just do what they tell you and stay quiet.LOL

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dave in Noblesville, Indiana

74 months ago

What I did was I was a x-ray technologist,then wentto therapy school then I got a BA IN health education occupations.I dont have a BA in Radiation Therapy and it has not stopped me.I was a chief therapist for many years.

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Sheila08 in New Jersey

74 months ago

thx dave!

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DAVE in Noblesville, Indiana

74 months ago

no problem!!

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julie in Portland, Oregon

73 months ago

There are no schools for Radiation therapy here in town or close by for that matter, except at OHSU where they offer a BA program. I am already an x-ray tech (7 years) and an ultrasound tech for 6 years. I also have a certificate in MRI but never pursued working in MRI as I didn't like the liability and distant patient care contact compared with ultrasound. Because of tendonitis issues which are common in our profession, I am looking into radiation therapy. Would love to work with cancer patients. Does anyone know if they might train on the job anymore? There isn't many online programs either.

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DAVE in Noblesville, Indiana

73 months ago

I am quite certain those programs are gone.Most are BA or Associate degrees.Check out the BA program because in Indiana if you are a arrt certified the program is only17 months to get your BA in Radiation.

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julie in Portland, Oregon

73 months ago

DAVE in Noblesville, Indiana said: I am quite certain those programs are gone.Most are BA or Associate degrees.Check out the BA program because in Indiana if you are a arrt certified the program is only17 months to get your BA in Radiation.

Dave,
Thanks so much for the advice. I did look up the BA program and they do admit x-ray techs or RT's, but we would still have to go 2 more years and have the prerequisites necessary for the BA. Julie

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Jeremy in Ballwin, Missouri

73 months ago

Hi I am also considering becoming a radiation therapist. I have a BS in finance and want to do a 23 month program (A.S. in Radiologic Technology).

I was wondering if this is the right direction to become a radiation therapist?

I didnt know if the Radiologic Technology degree is the same as radiation therapy?

Would this be a safe route since I already have a B.S. degree and the A.S. in Radiologic Technology from my community college is accredited by Jrcert and says it will prepare me to sit for the arrt exam?

I am just a little confused with the wording of Radiologic Technology and radiation therapy.

THANKS!

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DAVE in Noblesville, Indiana

73 months ago

Radiologic technologist and Radiation Therapy are two different terms.The field of Radiologic technology includes taking x-rays,performing Cat Scans,MRIs etc.... It is imaging of the body.Radiation Therapy is treating cancer patients with radiation.

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Patel in Austin, Texas

73 months ago

Hi Dave,

My wife has BA in psychology and she want to become radiation therapist. There are mainly certification and associate programs in Georgia. Do you think it is better to do associate? or start with certification and then work on associate?

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Cayce in Bowling Green, Kentucky

73 months ago

Patel in Austin, Texas said: Hi Dave,

My wife has BA in psychology and she want to become radiation therapist. There are mainly certification and associate programs in Georgia. Do you think it is better to do associate? or start with certification and then work on associate?

Hi Patel, I know you asked the question to Dave but I just thought I would share my thoughts. I have been a radiation therapist for 10 years and I can tell you with all honesty that I only know a handful of therapists with more than a certificate. There is a great program in Chattanooga TN, which I went to, that is only a certificate program and you do your clinic locally and travel to Chattanooga for class every other week (Thurs. and Fri.) My professsional opinion is that the people who get the most time in clinic, as with most certificate programs, make the strongest therapist. This is not always true but for the most part very true to what I and my co-workers see. I have extensive experience at several different facilities and I can promise you the biggest challenge she will face is finding a job in the Southeast. Right now I know of at least 8-10 new grads between TN and KY that can't find jobs and are working in X-ray. Lucky for them they went to rad tech school first and can do this. I love what I do but I will tell the truth and that is the job market for therapist is dismal, pay is decreasing for new grads and several places don't want to hire new grads because that is what they have done for a few years now and they end up with non-experienced staff. I have lots of friends that do traveling work and they are having a hard time keeping work and the recruiters have been saying for at least two years that the market is very slow. I don't mean to sound negative at all I just want people to be aware before they put their time and money into something that may very well not produce a job. There are other branches of radiology to explore as well.

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Patel in Austin, Texas

73 months ago

Thanks Cayce,

I talked with the coosa valley school and they said my wife can not do certificate course as her bachelors was different degree, she can do associate program. I kind of see your point with so may people doing the same course and field big. What are the other branches of radiology you would suggest.

By the way thank for letting me know that certificate and associate degrees are good enough.

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Sheila08 in New Jersey

73 months ago

Cayce,
Thanks so much for that bit of information!!! I have been waivering back n forth for a while, I couldnt decide if I wanted to radiation therapy or not. I assumed that it would be a great field to get into with constant demand, but you have shown a new light to the subject. thanks for your honesty... I also have the same question as Patel, what are some other branches worth looking at today?

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dave in Noblesville, Indiana

73 months ago

What Cayce is true here in Indiana.New grads cant find jobs and the program here is putting out grads that did not go the Rad Tech school so they are not even working in the medical field.I have been a therapist for 20 years and I can tell you that right now seems to be the worst time to get into this field.If you are interested in Radiation and like physics a great job would be medical physics.

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Cayce in Bowling Green, Kentucky

73 months ago

Patel and Sheila,
You are welcome for the info and the other options that I am hearing have good job opportunities in my area are MRI, CT/PET CT, and ultrasound. As you are doing now I would suggest that you do your own research on this. Search RTJobs on the web and pick your area of interest and see how many jobs are open. Check you area for openings as well. I got very fortunate, when I graduated from therapy school the market was at the end of it's 8-10 year cycle as far as being flooded with therapist. Within 6 months of graduating a therapist could find a job just about anywhere, name their price within reason and get a sign on and/or relocation bonus. This will return to therapy but not for another 5-7 years. My point is whatever market you pick needs to be open, it makes for better job opportunities and better pay.

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Alaine in Covington, Georgia

73 months ago

Thanks Cayce. I am a nurse in GA as well who is looking to branch into Radiation Therapy. I've asked these questions on other forums and didn't get a straight answer, so I thank you. Anyway my question is, What is the outlook for dosimetrists? There is a master's program here in Georgia and I'm wondering what my chances would be in that area. Also if I took the chance and went with radiation therapy anyway (would graduate in two years) would it better for me to have a radiology background? That's what I'm hearing from a lot of rad techs. Should I take radiology first? Or would my nursing background be enough?

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Cayce in Bowling Green, Kentucky

73 months ago

Well here's a thought. It is very hard to find a Radiation Oncology Nurse. Now you have to be an RN so I'm not sure if you are but if you are and you go to therapy school then that makes you extra marketable. Good Radiation Oncology nurses are few and far between but if you enjoy nursing check into becoming a registered oncology nurse, the job is not nearly as physically tasking as a theraists. Dosimetry is a wide open field right now but think about this because most places like for their dosimetrist to be a therapist first. A good dosimetrist has to understand the whole process and be able to think about patient set ups and I personally in 10 years and having done work at app 20 different facilities have never met a dosimetrist that did not go to therapy school first. As far a going to x-ray school first, with you already having a clinical background I would think the only benefit to going to x-ray school would be you would have something to fall back on if you can't find a job in therapy. Think about this also, some states, like kentucky, will not allow people who are not x-ray techs to inject contrast and do CT's. I'm sure there are other states as well. CT is fast becoming the main stream simulation process in radiation therapy so you might want to check into that. I want you to know I appreciate you all respecting my info, I tell all the students who rotate through the departments what the job situation is right now and not a single one has listened. Then they are all in panic mode looking for jobs that are simply not there in this region and many others. They say they had no idea the job market was this bad and that simply isn't true. Myself and all my coworkers try to relay that to anyone looking to get into the field. Not to discourage but just to let them know, so you are smarter than most I am coming across that don't think this out before jumping in.

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RedQueen in Murfreesboro, Tennessee

73 months ago

I have been aradiation therapist for 17 years and I love it. Here is my two cents' worth:
Jobs may be scarce temporarily but this is a cyclical thing. The crucial job info to remember is that the average age for the onset of cancer is 55...and guess what age the baby boomers are now? Early to late 50's. So the patients will be out there for the next 20 years or so, and radiation is still an important part of treatment for 2/3 of cancer patients. We not only work to cure cancer, but we also can alleviate pain or its other symptoms in people whose disease is beyond the curable stage. And there are other things we treat as well: we can help prevent the formation of keloids (big ugly scars) in people who are susceptible to them, we can prevent bone spurs from growing around a new hip replacement that could cause pain and restricted movement; we can make it easier for people with lung cancer to breathe; we have better cosmetic results for skin cancers on the face and neck than plastic surgeons do.

As far as education, most radiation therapists do NOT have a bachelor's degree. Those of us who do often have gotten them after entering therapy and may have done it to make us eligible for leadership or teaching positions. It is not essential that a bachelor's be in therapy either; if you already have one in another discipline do not feel you need one in therapy. A certificate or associate's degree in therapy are about equal at the present time, mostly it depends on what is available in your area since programs are limited. And if you have the time I would definitely go for the diagnostic certification and then add on the therapy because it gives you so much more flexibility. If therapy isn't hiring, you can go do imaging until it picks up, or you can semi-retire to do X-rays in an MD office years dwon the road. CT is helpful because as someone above mentioned that is becoming an essential part of planning so knowing it gives you a job advantage.

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David in Memphis, Tennessee

73 months ago

RedQueen,

Thansk for the helpful information.
What is diagnostic certification and how does one go about getting this certification?

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RedQueen in Murfreesboro, Tennessee

72 months ago

Diagnostic certification can be accomplished through taking a diagnostic imaging program of study and then passing the national registry exam. There are programs through community colleges, some private hospitals still sponsor programs, and there may be other options I don't know about (perhaps military training in that field?). This will usually take two years of combined didactic (book-learning!) courses and clinical internship time. Then you may take the ARRT (American Registry of Radiation Technology) exam and if you pass you are certified. You will do an additional year of study/internship if you choose to add radiation therapy to your repertoire.

There are other ways to get the therapy certification, including a two-year therapy-only program or a four-year radiation therapy baccalaureate program. However, the diagnostic route gives you the most flexibility about your future job choices from my perspective.

ARRT (R) means ARRT certified in radiology ARRT (T) certified in therapy
ARRT (R)(T) means you have both additional certifications are available in CT, MRI, Mammography, etc. but only if you have the ARRT (R) first.

Red Queen BS, ARRT (T)

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RedQueen in Murfreesboro, Tennessee

72 months ago

One more thing: If you are Canadian, there is generally a requirement for a university degree for radiation therapists (meaning a bachelor's degree). That's why Anita (above, from Ontario) said "you won't really qualify without it". In the US it is not necessary to have a bachelor's degree but if you want to continue to build your career, by all means continue your education. There was a movement to make a bachelor's degree the entry level back in the 90's but that was eventually defeated.

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David in Memphis, Tennessee

72 months ago

RedQueen,

Thanks for this info. It is certainly helping me out.

Let me see if I understand you correctly. The "diagnostic route" would be a Radiologic Technologist program. Correct? Then upon completion of that program I would be able to go further in order to get the radiation therapy certification?

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RedQueen in Murfreesboro, Tennessee

72 months ago

Yes, exactly!

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calii in Anderson, Indiana

72 months ago

dave in Noblesville, Indiana said: What Cayce is true here in Indiana.New grads cant find jobs and the program here is putting out grads that did not go the Rad Tech school so they are not even working in the medical field.I have been a therapist for 20 years and I can tell you that right now seems to be the worst time to get into this field.If you are interested in Radiation and like physics a great job would be medical physics.

Dave,
I was thinking of going into radiation therapy and I would want to find a job in Anderson or Noblesville or somewhere around those places. I have been looking into it alot and it seems I cant find job openings around here (at least on internet job searches). I was just going to get an associates degree. Am I going to be able to find a job around here?

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dave in Noblesville, Indiana

72 months ago

It will be tough but,go to school and if you cant find one,do something else until something opens up.Very few graduating have a job lined up.It will be tough around here because of all the schools.We have IU,Ball State,Ivy Tech,IU North all have programs.Things could open up in the next few years.Just keep your eyes open for a way to get your foot in the door.Which program are you looking to go to????

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RedQueen in Murfreesboro, Tennessee

72 months ago

And if you are free to relocate, you can go elsewhere to work for a year or two and then watch for job openings at home so you can come back with experience...that will put you ahead of th4e new grads that will be coming out at that time.

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Jalpa in Lawrenceville, Georgia

72 months ago

Lauren in Augusta, Georgia said: I was just wondering if any therapists out there that could tell me if there are any health risks to a career in radiation therapy. I am just a little concerned about radiation exposure. I also wanted to know what the job market is like. I will graduate in Georgia but I am willing to relocate to find work. I am trying to decide between a career in nursing or radiation therapy. I would appreciate any help that I can get.

Which school are u going to in Georgia?? Is it medical college of georgia?? Since i see u r from augusta!!!

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Mike in Clearwater, Florida

72 months ago

WOW! thanks to everyone for all of the information. I am looking to go to school to become a Radiology Technician and I dont think any guidance counselor at my current community college could have matched this helpful information..

I am living in Florida and from all the above information came up with this plan...

1) Go to my community college for an AS in Radiography
2) Find a job as a Radiology Technician
3) Go to a school program to earn a certificate in Radiation Therapy
4) Find a job as a Radiation Therapy Technologist

Does this sound like a smart plan? Does anyone know what the job outlook in Florida is for a Radiologist Technician? for a Radiation Therapy Technologist?

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