Short programs that are only 9 months only allow you to obtain a technicians license. The associates let you get a full technologist license. Without the full license you cannot work in a hospital and perform many of the exams like fluoroscopy, surgery or even some xrays like abdomens. There is also a pay difference. As a technologist you can choose where you want to work. You could work at a hospital or you could work at a clinic too. You can also advance into other modalities like CT or mammo.
I attended a 2 year associates program (3 including pre-requisites), and just recently graduated a few weeks ago and was actually offered a job before I graduated. And it was not at one of my clinical sites. My class was 13 people and so far half of us have already been hired. The market is tight yes, but you do have to be willing to move. I accepted a job 9 hours away and had to move but I would have moved halfway across the country if I needed to.
The average pay of a radiologic tech is not $67,000 dollars everywhere. It very much depends on where you live. Here in idaho starting out if you are lucky enough to be full time you will probably make about $40,000. However, in this state that is not bad because the cost of living is much lower than say california. Here, your first job will probably not be full time. Many times it is PRN... but that is ok because you have to get your foot in the door. It will most likely turn into a better position. It is said by many, that if you do not get a rad tech job in a year after you graduate you will most likely never get one. All employers have to do it wait for a new batch of technologists to graduate who have more current knowledge and have actually worked with equipment in the last year.
one mistake some people make is thinking they should go into xray becuase they cant be a nurse because they are squimish around blood....What do you think happens when someone breaks their arm in half? You still have to deal with all that.