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Radiographers and radiologic technologists operate equipment to perform diagnostic image examinations on patients. They utilize x-rays, MRIs, CTs, and mammography equipment to produce digital images of internal organs, tissue, or bones that aid physicians in diagnosing and treating patients.
As allied health professionals, radiographers and radiologic technologists are critical components of any medical team. Earnings can vary widely, but on average, professionals in this field earn $60,510 per year. How much radiographers and radiologic technologists earn depends on their level of education, years of experience, place of employment, and if they work in a specialty field. Typical areas of employment include hospitals, diagnostic labs, medical offices, and outpatient care centers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2019), here are the earning percentiles for the 210,000 professionals in this field.
- Average annual salary: $60,510
- 10th percentile: $41,480
- 25th percentile: $49,580
- 50th percentile (median): $60,510
- 75th percentile: $74,660
- 90th percentile: $89,760
Entry-level education for this field includes completing a certificate program or an associate degree in radiography. These programs can take anywhere from one to two years to complete. Coursework required to earn a degree or certificate includes anatomy and physiology, radiation safety, patient positioning, and primary patient care. Students can choose to pursue more advanced studies and complete a bachelor’s degree. Having a higher degree is advantageous as it increases employability and can lead to higher salaries.
Students should ensure the program they complete is accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) or approved by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), as this can be required for certification or licensing. Attending an accredited or approved program ensures a minimum level of education, coursework content, and quality faculty.
Licensing is required in most states for radiographers and radiologic technologists. While certification requirements vary by state, they typically include completing required education or training, passing an exam, and paying a licensing fee. Certification through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) is an industry-standard and required by most employers.
Radiographers and radiologic technologists can only perform diagnostic tests and cannot interpret the results. Medical doctors called radiologists are the ones who typically receive the images produced and can make a diagnosis and refer to treatment.
The demand for radiographers and radiologic technologists is high and is anticipated to grow 7 percent between 2019 and 2029 around the United States. This growth outpaces the national average of 4 percent for all careers. The increased demand is primarily due to aging Baby Boomers requiring more medical tests to diagnose conditions such as cancers, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease.
Professionals looking to switch to this career will find that job satisfaction in this field is relatively high. PayScale.com (2020) has a satisfaction rating of 4.1 out of 5, based on self-reported data from 115 radiographers and radiologic technologists. U.S. News & World Report ranks radiologic technologists as number 15 in best healthcare support jobs. The top factor driving this ranking is a strong job market and future job growth potential.
Continue reading to learn more about where radiographers and radiologic technologists earn the most money, which specialties have the highest wages, and where most professionals in this field are currently employed.
Top-Paying Cities for Radiographers and Radiographic Technologists
According to the BLS (May 2019), below are the cities and corresponding metropolitan areas with the highest wages for radiologic technologists and technicians. Note that all of the top-paying regions in this profession are in California. On this list are also the number of estimated radiologic technologists and technicians in that area. Salaries for these cities range between $87,510 and $110,180.
|Metropolitan area||Employment of radiologic techs||Average annual salary|
|Vallejo – Fairfield, CA||300||$109,680|
|San Francisco – Oakland – Hayward, CA||2,280||$103,670|
|Sacramento – Roseville – Arden-Arcade, CA||1,090||$97,450|
|Stockton – Lodi, CA||270||$89,980|
|Santa Maria – Santa Barbara, CA||220||$88,920|
|San Jose – Sunnyvale – Santa Clara, CA||850||$88,690|
|Yuba City, CA||60||$88,000|
|Santa Cruz – Watsonville, CA||90||$87,510|
Top-Paying States for Radiographers and Radiographic Technologists
Below is a list of the states with the highest mean wages for radiologic technologists and technicians, according to the BLS (May 2019). Included in this list is an estimated number of radiologic technologists and technicians working in that state.
|State||Employment of radiologic techs||Average annual salary|
|District of Columbia||450||$79,430|
Most Popular Work Environments for Radiographers and Radiographic Technologists
According to the BLS (2020), these are the most popular work environments in this field:
|Work environment||Percentage of employed radiologic technologists|
|Hospitals; state, local, and private||60 percent|
|Offices of physicians||20 percent|
|Medical and diagnostic laboratories||7 percent|
|Outpatient care centers||6 percent|
|Federal government, excluding postal service||3 percent|
Top-Paying Clinical Specializations for Radiographers and Radiographic Technologists
Radiologic technologists and technicians can work in several specialties. Working in a specialty requires additional training to use the equipment and support physicians in caring for patients and diagnosing diseases.
Below are five specialization areas and the corresponding hourly wage, as self-reported by professionals in the field to Payscale.com (October 2020).
|Specialization||Average hourly wage|
|Computed Tomography (CT)||$24.73|
|Picture Archival Computer System (PACS)||$24.17|
Kimmy is a freelance writer with extensive experience writing about healthcare careers and education. She has worked in public health, at health-focused nonprofits, and as a Spanish interpreter for doctor’s offices and hospitals. She has a passion for learning and that drives her to stay up to date on the latest trends in healthcare. When not writing or researching, she can be found pursuing her passions of nutrition and an active outdoors lifestyle.