Learn About Being an X-ray Technician

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published December 10, 2019

What does an X-ray technician do?

An X-ray technician uses an X-ray machine to take radiographic images of patients to assist medical providers in making a diagnosis. Images from the X-ray machine may also be used in choosing and implementing the appropriate treatment plan. X-ray technicians may have the following responsibilities:

  • Operate X-ray equipment to get images of different areas of the body

  • Adjust X-ray machines as needed to ensure clear and accurate imaging

  • Evaluate, interpret and report X-ray imaging results

  • Make treatment recommendations based on X-ray results

  • Ensure the patient is comfortable and protect them from radiation

Average salary

An X-ray technician’s salary may vary, depending on geographical location, experience and type of position. For example, an X-ray technician working in an urgent care office may earn less than an X-ray technician working in a busy hospital. Some X-ray technicians may have certifications in specific types of imaging that allow them to earn a higher salary. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the salary link.

  • Common salary in the U.S.: $25.87 per hour

  • Some salaries range from $7.35 to $58.35 per hour.

X-ray technician requirements

Obtaining an X-ray technician position requires the completion of certain educational and training requirements, which include:

Education

A minimum of an associate’s degree in radiology is usually required to become an X-ray technician, and some hiring managers may require a bachelor’s degree. Related coursework that will assist you in your X-ray technician role includes biology, physics, imaging and physiology. An educational program will usually offer both coursework and an internship. Before choosing a program, make sure it is accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technologists (JRCERT).

Over 30 U.S. states require a license to work as an X-ray technician. However, hiring managers may still require a license in other states. To receive radiology licensure, you will need to complete your degree from an accredited college and successfully pass an exam.

Training

Most X-ray technicians will begin direct training through their internship program. During your education, you will learn how to use X-ray equipment and how to interpret and analyze imaging under the guidance of an instructor. X-ray technicians will continue their training in an entry-level position by collaborating with other technicians in their first few years in the role.

Certifications

Certifications are not usually a requirement as an X-ray technician, but they can show your commitment and dedication to the industry. The following certifications are available as an X-ray technician:

The American Registry of Radiologist Technicians (ARRT) certification

The ARRT certification is a good option for technicians who want to specialize in a certain type of radiology. To earn the certification, you will need to choose a specialty, complete education through an AART-approved institution, undergo an ethics review and successfully pass the exam.

Registered Radiology Assistant (RRA)

The RRA is also available through the American Registry of Radiologist Technicians and is a good certification for individuals who want to work as radiologist assistants. Certification requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, certification through the AART, one year of experience and completion of the RRA educational program. Interested applicants will also have to undergo an ethics review and successfully pass the exam.

Radiologic Technologist Mammography Certification

The Radiologic Technologist Mammographic certification is available for registered technicians who want to specialize in mammography radiology. To receive the certification, the technician will need to have a minimum of 40 hours of documented training in mammography and successfully pass the exam.

Therapeutic Radiologic Technology Certification

The Therapeutic Radiologic Technology certification is ideal for technicians who want to assist patients with radiation therapy. To earn the certification, an associate degree with related coursework in radiologic therapy, an ethics review and successful completion of the exam is required.

Skills

There are a few hard and soft skills that will help you succeed as an X-ray technician, including:

Communication

Strong communication skills are crucial as an X-ray technician. X-ray technicians will use written communication skills to understand X-ray orders and to report results. Nonverbal skills are also important for the X-ray technician to identify when a patient is experiencing discomfort or pain.

Mechanical skills

Some comfort with mechanical items is necessary as an X-ray technician. X-ray technicians will often have to move and adjust the machine to reach certain areas of the body. They may also have to complete basic troubleshooting to fix minor X-ray machine problems.

Organization

An X-ray technician may have many patients in one day, and organizational skills will help them keep paperwork accurate. Organizational skills will also assist an X-ray technician in keeping each patient’s information confidential and secure.

Time management

Strongly developed time management skills are also necessary for this role. The X-ray technician may be required to complete X-rays on multiple patients, and it is important to be fast and accurate with imaging.

X-ray technician work environment

An X-ray technician works in a medical setting, often with the following characteristics:

  • Long periods of time spent on their feet

  • Heavy lifting of equipment and patients

  • Frequent exposure to radiation

  • Long work hours with evening and weekends required

  • Individual work environment

X-ray technicians will spend much of their workday standing, adjusting the machine and the patient to capture the correct angles of imaging. They are also exposed to radiation daily but are expected to wear protective gear to limit the exposure amount. Many X-ray technicians work as full-time employees, but hours may range depending on the work environment. X-ray technicians who work in a medical office can expect typical office hours, whereas an X-ray technician working for a hospital may also work on evenings and weekends.

How to become an X-ray technician

You can become an X-ray technician with the following steps:

  1. Complete education: Completing your education is the first step to becoming an X-ray technician. Enroll in a certified radiology program and take the coursework that will assist you as an X-ray technician, including biology, physiology, imaging and anatomy.

  2. Complete an internship: Most X-ray technician educational programs require the completion of an internship. Use your internship to learn the important duties of an X-ray technician and to prepare you for your licensure exam.

  3. Apply for and take the licensure exam: After you have completed your education and studied, you will need to schedule and pass the licensure exam.

  4. Apply for X-ray technician jobs: Once you have completed your education, internship and passed the licensure exam, you can apply for X-ray technician jobs. Use your cover letter and resume to show your academic experience. List any internships and certifications you have.

X-ray technician job description example

We are looking to fill the open position of an X-ray technician at Rutgers Hospital. The ideal candidate will have a minimum of four years of experience operating an X-ray machine in a hospital environment and be licensed with the state of Montana as a registered technologist (RT). Communication and time management skills are a requirement in this position, as the candidate will be working in a busy hospital environment. Specialized experience in mammography is preferred.

Related careers

  • Ultrasound technician

  • Medical technologist

  • Radiologic technologist

  • Medical assistant

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