4 Reasons You Might Pursue an Associate Degree in Radiology

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published October 6, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Individuals who want to pursue a position in radiology can begin their careers by completing an associate degree program. During their studies, they may learn about radiographic imaging, patient care, radiation protection and radiographic pathology. If you're interested in working in the radiology field, reviewing degree programs might help you decide which one is the best fit for you.

In this article, we explain what an associate degree in radiology is, provide several radiology degree programs and include a short list of jobs that you might pursue with your degree.

Related: Radiology Careers: 9 Different Job Types (And Required Skills)

What is an associate degree in radiology?

An associate degree in radiology allows students to pursue a position in the radiology field, which is a health care specialty that involves taking images of the body to diagnose an injury or illness. The associate degree in radiology may refer to a variety of degrees that relate to medical imaging and diagnostics. For example, an associate degree in radiology may refer to one in medical imaging and diagnostics or one in radiologic technology.

Since this is an entry-level degree, students can use it to begin their careers in radiology. Schools typically offer this degree as an Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science. Most programs take two to three years to complete, depending on the coursework and required clinical hours.

Reasons to pursue an associate degree in radiology

Here are several reasons why you might choose to pursue an associate degree in radiology:

1. To pursue a job

Many radiology careers require candidates to have an associate degree in radiology. Individuals applying for radiology positions with an associate degree may show employers that they have the proper experience, knowledge and qualifications to secure a radiology position. By having an associate degree in radiology, you may separate your credentials from other candidates in your field who don't have a degree. Here are some jobs that you may pursue with this degree:

  • Radiographer

  • Radiologic technologist

  • X-ray technician

  • MRI technologist

  • CT technologist

  • CT Technologist

Related: 7 Highest-Paying Radiology Jobs (With Salaries and Duties)

2. To prepare for further education

An associate degree in radiology may prepare you to further your education. You use the knowledge from your degree program to pursue a bachelor's degree in radiology or a master's degree in radiology. You might also consider completing a Ph.D. in radiological sciences.

Many schools have transfer programs that allow you to transfer your credits from your associate's degree to a different degree program. By completing higher education, you may have the opportunity to pursue different careers in the radiology field. Many bachelor's and master's programs allow radiology professionals to continue working full time in the radiology field while completing their degrees.

3. To gain licensure

You may complete an associate degree in radiology to gain licensure or earn certifications. The requirements for radiology licenses and certifications vary among states. If your state requires that professionals gain licensure before working in radiology, you may pursue a degree program that provides you with licensure upon completing the program.

If your state requires certifications, then you might pursue a program that provides you with the proper certification. It's common for states to use the qualifications, requirements and exams that the American Registry of Radiologic Technicians (ARRT) provides. Gaining licensure and certification can show that you're a well-qualified radiology professional, and it may demonstrate your commitment to your career growth.

Related: Learn About Being a Radiology Technician

4. To grow your professional network

Completing an associate degree in radiology may allow you to expand your professional network and meet other individuals in the radiology field. While earning your degree, you can meet peers that have similar career goals and skills as you. You might also meet professors and administrators that can provide you with valuable guidance on radiology practices, strategies and techniques.

Growing your network while starting your radiology career may benefit you greatly. You may learn about job opportunities in radiology from contacts in your network. For example, if a member of your network discovers a radiology opening in their workplace, they may inform you of it so that you can apply. You may also use your peers as referrals when applying for positions. If the company to which you're applying contacts your referral, they may share information about your valuable radiology skills that you demonstrated while in school with them.

5 associate degree in radiology programs

When starting your radiology career, you might pursue a degree program that meets your educational needs. For example, if you want to work full-time while completing your degree, you might look for radiology programs that are online or part-time. Here are some associate degree in radiology programs that you might consider pursuing:

1. The City College of San Diego

The City College of San Diego offers a program where students earn an Associate of Science in Diagnostic Medical Imaging. The purpose of this program is to help students prepare to pass the ARRT licensure exam. Typically, the school offers this program on a full-time basis, so that students can devote their time to growing their radiology skills and experience. Interested students can complete the required prerequisite courses before starting the degree program. Some of these prerequisite courses include human physiology, chemistry, algebra and human anatomy. It's important that they maintain a grade of C or above to qualify.

To apply for the program, the school generally accepts applications during the months of July and August. Students complete 66 credits throughout the program that focuses on multi-planar imaging and intermediate imaging procedures. The courses also cover patient care and advanced imaging. Typically, this program lasts a little longer than two years, during which students complete clinical placements throughout various health care facilities. All classes and clinical hours take place in person.

2. Cleveland University-Kansas City

Cleveland University-Kansas City offers an Associate of Applied Science in Radiologic Technology. This program provides students with the proper coursework and experience to pass the ARRT licensure exam. During this program, students can use the campus's radiologic equipment to gain hands-on experience before completing their clinical hours in a health care facility. They also complete courses on radiographic pathology, contrast procedures and radiation protection from X-rays.

This is a hybrid program that students can complete online or in person. Students may complete prerequisite courses online, and they can complete their lab work and clinical hours in person. To qualify for the program, students may complete 24 credit hours of prerequisite courses. The admissions committee requires that students earn a B or above in math and science prerequisites and a C or above for all other prerequisite courses.

3. Missouri Southern State University

Missouri Southern State University offers an Associate of Science in Radiologic Technology. Students can complete this course in two years. Typically, students begin the program in the summer semester. Throughout the program, students complete 57 credit hours that focus on patient care and radiology technology. The remaining credit hours allow them to study radiation biology and radiographic protection. Students also complete clinical training in the emergency room, surgery and cardiac catheterization lab. The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiology Technology accredits this program to ensure it provides high-quality education and guidance to radiology students.

4. Southeast Community College

Southeast Community College offers the Associate of Applied Science in Radiologic Technology. Students complete a variety of courses that relate to radiation biology, psychophysiology and diagnostic imaging. The goal of the program is to provide students with in-depth information on the principles and ethics of radiology. The program is four semesters and takes two years to complete. Students can complete the necessary prerequisite courses within five years of starting the program. These prerequisite courses include English, human anatomy, human physiology and sociology.

After starting the program, students can choose to complete their coursework online or in person. They can also complete their clinical and lab hours on-campus or at health care facilities near campus. The program's administration approves clinical placements for students.

5. Ball State University

Ball State University provides an Associate of Science in Radiography. During this program, students can learn about radiation safety, contrast media, imaging equipment, patient care, radiographs and data preparation. Students may take classes online or in person, depending on their transportation and educational needs. Administration requires that students complete clinical placements. It's important that students maintain excellent academic performances while completing their performance since the school requires that they apply to complete the clinical placement phase of their curriculum.

3 jobs in radiology you can pursue

If you want to pursue an associate degree in radiology, it may be helpful to review the salary information and duties of radiology positions. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click the provided links.

1. X-ray technician

National average salary: $61,425 per year

Primary duties: An X-ray technician is a radiology professional that's responsible for using X-ray machines and equipment to take images of patients. Typically, health care professionals use these images to diagnose medical issues or injuries. Images from the X-ray machine may also help physicians to determine the severity of an issue and create a treatment plan based on the patient's needs. The technician may adjust the X-ray so that they can obtain a clear image. They may also ensure that the patient is comfortable throughout the imaging procedure.

Read more: Learn About Being an X-ray Technician

2. MRI technologist

National average salary: $114,586 per year

Primary duties: An MRI technologist is responsible for using magnetic resonance imaging scanners to take images of patients. Before the procedure, they provide patients with contrast media, like dyes and liquids, so that the images can show up better on the equipment. They may follow a physician's instructions to provide specific images on a patient's limbs or organs.

3. CT technologist

National average salary: $114,622 per year

Primary duties: A CT technologist is a radiology professional that's responsible for preparing patients to use radiographic equipment. They may use the equipment to take scans of the patient's body, or they may assist the patient to help them feel comfortable. They often explain the procedure to patients to help them understand the imaging process. CT technologists may move patients in the proper position to capture clear images.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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