Computed Tomography (CT) Technician

CT equipment is run by technicians who have completed specialized education and training on how to use this complicated equipment. To become a CT technician, aspiring professionals must complete the necessary education, certification, and licensing requirements to practice in this field.

CT certification is a two-step process whereby candidates must first complete an educational program in radiography, nuclear medicine technology, radiation therapy, or sonography and obtain certification in that field. 

They must then complete CT-specific education and clinical experience requirements, including coursework focusing on anatomy and physiology, cross-sectional anatomy, medical terminology, and radiation safety concepts. 

Once education and experience requirements are met, professionals may apply for the CT Technologist exam from the American Registry Of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). This computer-based exam verifies that a candidate has met the necessary educational qualifications and can competently perform required tasks while practicing as a CT Technician. Professional certification from the ARRT is required by most employers before hiring and by many states for licensure.

Becoming a CT technologist is an excellent career choice for those interested in the medical field for high pay and strong job growth. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2023) reports that the job outlook for radiologic and MRI technologists, including CT technologists, is expected to grow 6 percent from 2021 to 2031, for 17,000 new jobs nationally.

Those working in hospitals tend to earn more than those working in physicians’ offices or diagnostic laboratories. With years of experience and additional certifications, CT technologists can also earn higher salaries.

Keep reading to learn how to become a CT technician with a step-by-step guide and a list of top in-person and online education options.

Computed Tomography (CT) Technician Specializations & Degree Types 

To become a CT technician, individuals must first complete an accredited radiologic technology program. This can be an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, depending on a student’s career aspirations.

Once a degree is obtained, graduates must obtain a certification in radiography, nuclear medicine technology, radiation therapy, or sonography from the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB), the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS), or the American Registry Of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Then, professionals must complete a CT certificate program and clinical experience requirements to be eligible for certification as an ARRT CT technologist. 

Admissions Requirements for Computed Tomography (CT) Technician Programs

Most standalone CT education programs that result in a certificate have simple admission requirements. Applicants are only required to hold a national certification and state licensure already. Some bachelor’s degree programs allow students to earn their initial national certification alongside their degree. These longer programs require applicants to have completed high school, have SAT or ACT scores, write an essay, and sometimes provide letters of recommendation.

Computed Tomography (CT) Technician Program Accreditation

To become a CT technician, individuals must complete an accredited program in radiologic technology first and then complete their certificate in CT technology. The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) is the primary agency recognized by the US Department of Education for accrediting traditional and distance delivery programs in radiography, radiation therapy, magnetic resonance, and medical dosimetry. Students should ensure their program is accredited because it is required for national certification and most state licensure programs. Accreditation also assures students that a program adheres to a high level of curriculum, faculty, and facility quality. 

CT technology certificate programs are not required to carry programmatic accreditation, so students should confirm that their school or continuing education entity is recognized by the ARRT for certification purposes. 

On-Campus Computed Tomography (CT) Technician Degree Programs

Maricopa Community College

The computed tomography certificate at Maricopa Community College provides a comprehensive set of tools to gain expertise in this field. Students will learn clinical radiation safety, how to interpret orders for diagnostic imaging procedures, effective communication in a healthcare setting, and how to apply knowledge and learning to professional development.

To be eligible for this program, applicants must be certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) in radiography or radiation therapy, or certified by ARRT or the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB) in nuclear medicine. All applicants must also complete a background check and meet clinical health and safety requirements. 

  • Location: Tempe, AZ
  • Duration: Two semesters
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $472 per credit

University of Utah – School of Medicine

The Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences at the University of Utah School of Medicine offers twice-yearly certificate programs in computerized tomography. These six-month programs provide certified radiologic technologists, radiation therapists, or nuclear medicine technologists with the essential skills to create electronic cross-sectional images to diagnose injuries and illnesses. Upon completion, students can take the advanced certification exam provided by the ARRT.

This program proudly offers six state-of-the-art CT scanners, including 128-slice Siemens scanners and the unique dual source scanning technology, the Siemens Definition. The latest in CT technology, the “FLASH,” is installed at the South Jordan Health Center. A combination of superior radiologists, experienced CT technologists, and the latest equipment creates an environment where the most current imaging and post-processing techniques are routinely performed and taught to students.

  • Location: Salt Lake City, UT
  • Duration: Six months
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Tuition: $4,000 for the entire program

Community College of Baltimore County – School of Health Professions

Working radiologic technologists looking to take the ARRT’s Computed Tomography exam can complete the required education at the Community College of Baltimore County School of Health Professions. This program provides students with both theoretical background and clinical experiences. Graduates will have the skills and knowledge necessary to act as competent entry-level technologists, produce cross-sectional images for diagnostic purposes, and employ critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. 

In total, students must complete 18 credit hours to earn this certificate. Classes on campus include patient care in computed tomography, imaging procedures, sectional anatomy, pathology in computed tomography, and physics and instrumentation in computed tomography. Candidates for admission must be licensed and registered radiographers in the State of Maryland. 

  • Location: Rosedale, MD 
  • Duration: Three semesters 
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Tuition: $372 per credit

Dallas College

The computed tomography certificate program at Dallas College equips students with the knowledge needed to become capable technologists. Upon successful completion of the program, students have developed the skills to create cross-sectional images for examination and the ability to analyze problems and evaluate their own performance. Students will also understand how to use radiation safely and effectively while being mindful of patient care and well-being when producing quality imaging results.

The prerequisite coursework required for this program includes two sections of anatomy and physiology and a course in sectional anatomy for medical imaging. All candidates for admission must be registered radiographers certified by the ARRT. Courses completed for this certificate can be transferred to a four-year school and count towards a bachelor’s degree. 

  • Location: Dallas, TX 
  • Duration: Two semesters
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $200 per credit

Harper College

The computed tomography certificate program at Harper College is an extensive 16-credit-hour, year-long program for ARRT-registered radiologic technologists. This comprehensive program equips students with the knowledge and skills necessary to produce cross-sectional images using computed tomography equipment for more efficient diagnosis of abnormalities that traditional radiography cannot easily evaluate. 

Students are exposed to a blend of clinical and didactic education, which covers topics such as physics and instrumentation of computed tomography, clinical procedures and protocols, patient care, and radiation safety. Upon completion of the program, graduates can pursue certification from the ARRT.

Required courses for this program include CT principles, procedures and patient care, and sectional anatomy. There are also two required clinical education classes where students gain hands-on experience. This is a limited enrollment program, so candidates for admission should ensure they meet all the requirements before applying. 

  • Location: Palatine, IL 
  • Duration: Three semesters
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $466 per credit

Online or Hybrid Computed Tomography (CT) Technician Degree Programs

Grand Rapids Community College 

Grand Rapids Community College offers a computer tomography certificate program to give students the skills and knowledge to become computed tomography technologists. Throughout the program, emphasis is placed on professional attitudes, values, and behaviors that encourage individual growth and development. Coursework is delivered online while clinical learning experiences are provided in partnership with hospitals and clinics. 

This program is open to any student who has graduated from an accredited program and holds a  registered radiographer certification from the ARRT. The curriculum meets the standards and requirements of the ARRT CT certification exam. All candidates for admission must meet clinical access requirements that include a negative TB test, immunizations, and a background test. 

  • Location: Grand Rapids, MI
  • Duration: 16 credit hours
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $374 per credit

Loma Linda University 

Through Loma Linda University’s online computed tomography certificate program, students will be prepared for all aspects of this career, including taking medical histories, positioning patients, determining technical parameters, and creating accurate images under pressure. To be considered for admission, candidates must be currently licensed by the ARRT in radiography. 

This program can be completed in just two quarters (six months). Each 40-hour week consists of one classroom day and four clinical days, making it a full-time program with no part-time or evening options. Although clinical sites are available, placement is not guaranteed and may not be near your location. Successful program completion makes students eligible to sit for the ARRT CT board exam. 

  • Location: Loma Linda, CA
  • Duration: Six months
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities
  • Tuition: $9,875 total cost

Nebraska Methodist College

Nebraska Methodist College offers a comprehensive online certificate program in computed tomography for ARRT certification holders. This program teaches participants the essential physics and instrumentation of CT procedures, clinical protocols, and cross-sectional anatomy and pathology. Students can complete their coursework within a single semester or 12 credit hours. All credits earned from this program transfer directly into the bachelor’s of imaging science degree completion program.

This online nature of the program means it is accessible any time of the day from anywhere with internet access. Participants learn by exploring interactive learning material, such as video lectures, discussions, and digital quizzes. They can also access supportive resources such as tutoring, tech support, academic advisors, and career counseling.

  • Location: Omaha, NE
  • Duration: One semester
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $598 per credit

Advent Health University

The Advent Health University online computed tomography (CT) program offers healthcare professionals and students the opportunity to gain essential knowledge and practice in CT procedures. The program combines didactic learning with clinical practice, utilizing leading imaging technologists to provide personalized education in a supportive environment. Students can access Retention Specialists for guidance throughout their studies and tech support, tutors, and faculty members. Courses are taught asynchronously, and materials can be accessed at any time.

All students must complete clinical internships that will help them gain the hands-on experience they need to excel in this career. To be eligible for admission, applicants must hold a current radiology or nuclear medicine technology license and certification from either the ARRT or the NMTCB. 

  • Location: Orlando, FL
  • Duration: One year
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $540 per credit

Midwestern State University

The Midwestern University CT certificate program provides students with the knowledge and skills to qualify for and pass the ARRT CT exam. Through a series of online courses, learners will gain an in-depth understanding of computed tomography and the experience necessary to practice effectively in this field. Additionally, students can arrange their own clinical experiences to supplement their learning. 

This program has three pathways: a CT certificate with a bachelor of science in radiologic sciences completion degree, a standalone certificate, or a bachelor of science in radiologic technology with a CT-dual modality. Only the CT program courses are offered entirely online, and students may be required to be on campus if they complete a bachelor’s degree.  

  • Location: Wichita Falls, TX
  • Duration: Six courses
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $5,863 per full-time semester

How Long Does It Take to Become a Computed Tomography (CT) Technician?

The timeline to enter this career can vary because there are two steps to the education and certification requirements to become a CT technician. After high school, aspiring CT technicians must complete at least a two-year associate’s degree, one to two years of work experience, and a six-month to one-year certification. It can take as little as three years but more often four or more.

How To Become a Computed Tomography (CT) Technician – Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Graduate from High School or Complete a GED (Four Years)

Completing high school or earning a GED is the first step toward becoming a CT technician. This base level of education prepares students for additional studies and is required for admission to most associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs. Math, biology, and physics classes will prepare students for the next step. 

Step 2: Complete a Degree in a Related Field (Two to Four Years)

Becoming a CT technician is a two-step education process. The first is a degree in radiologic technology, radiation therapy, or nuclear medicine. The most common education route is an associate’s degree, although bachelor’s degree programs are available that can lead to certification as a CT technician.

Step 3: Earn First National Certification (Timelines Vary)

After completing their degree, graduates of radiography, nuclear medicine technology, radiation therapy, or sonography programs must obtain certification from either the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB), the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS), or the American Registry Of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).

Step 4: Apply for a State License if Required (Timelines Vary)

Most states require that radiologic technologists obtain a license to practice. The requirements will vary by state. More details can be found in the certification and licensing section below.

Step 5: Complete CT Education and Work Experience 

The second educational step to becoming a CT technician is to complete a structured education program that meets the content outline requirements listed in the ARRT’s Postprimary Eligibility Pathway Handbook, along with 125 computed tomography procedures. 

Step 6: Earn CT Certification

Once the education and clinical experience requirements are completed, candidates can apply to sit for the exam. More certification information can be found in the certification and licensing section below.

What Do Computed Tomography (CT) Technicians Do?

CT)Technicians work anywhere there is a CT machine, such as hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, and imaging centers. Day-to-day duties will include:

  • Operating CT equipment to produce quality images for medical diagnosis
  • Preparing and positioning patients for scanning
  • Adjusting machine settings such as angle, speed, current, and voltage to optimize imaging
  • Monitoring the patient’s vital signs throughout the procedure
  • Maintaining accurate records of tests conducted
  • Performing routine maintenance on the CT scanner
  • Communicating effectively with other healthcare professionals, including doctors and radiologists
  • Educating patients on preparation and safety procedures before beginning a scan

Computed Tomography (CT) Technician Certifications & Licensure 

CT technicians are required to hold two certifications. The first certification is in radiography, nuclear medicine technology, radiation therapy, or sonography from the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB), the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS), or the American Registry Of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). 

Each certification and organization will have its own eligibility and testing requirements. For example, to be eligible for the ARRT Radiography certification, candidates must:

  • Complete an associate’s degree or higher 
  • Complete an educational program in the same discipline as the credential they are pursuing
  • Demonstrate good moral character
  • Pass the ARRT Radiography exam

Once a candidate has obtained an NMTCB, ARBMS, or ARRT certification, they can complete the requirements for CT Technologist certification through ARRT. The requirements include:

  • Complete a structured education program. This can include continuing education credits or a formal certificate program through a college or university. It must meet the content outline published by the ARRT
  • Complete 125 computed tomography procedures that fall into various categories and demonstrate a variety of skills
  • Take and pass the CT Technologist exam 

According to the ARRT, roughly 75 percent of states require that radiologic technicians have a license to practice. Professionals interested in becoming CT technicians should contact their state’s licensing board to ensure they have the qualifications to work in this field. Requirements will vary by state. For example, in Florida, Certified Radiologic Technologist application requirements include:

  • Complete an approved educational or training program in radiologic technology 
  • Pass a background check
  • Submit proof of age with a photo ID
  • Pass the ARRT exam

How Much Do Computed Tomography (CT) Technicians Make?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2022) classifies CT technicians as radiologic technologists and technicians. On average, radiologic technologists and technicians earn $70,240 per year. The percentiles for wages are:

  • 10th percentile: $47,760
  • 25th percentile: $57,350
  • 50th percentile (median): $65,140
  • 75th percentile: $80,050
  • 90th percentile: $97,940

Computed Tomography (CT) Technician Career Alternatives

Here are some alternatives to a career as a CT Technician: 

Become a Nuclear Medicine Technologist

Nuclear medicine technologists are responsible for using imaging systems and software to diagnose patients with the help of radiopharmaceuticals. They also monitor patient safety protocols to ensure that radioactive material is handled properly. They create reports documenting patient diagnoses and treatments, educate patients on the testing process, understand radiation safety regulations, and communicate effectively with other healthcare professionals.

  • Typical Education: Associates
  • Licensing or Certifying Organization:  Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB)

Become a Radiologic & MRI Technologist 

Radiologic and MRI technologists provide diagnostic imaging services, including X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. They position patients correctly for exams and operate specialized equipment to obtain the best diagnostic images possible. They’re responsible for assessing images for clarity and quality, keeping accurate records of all imaging procedures, answering patient questions about exams, and educating patients on protocols before a procedure.

  • Typical Education: Associates
  • Licensing or Certifying Organization: American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS), Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB), or American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT)

Become a Sonographer (Radiographer)

Sonographers use ultrasound technology to assess, diagnose and treat medical conditions in patients. They specialize in creating images of the body’s internal organs to help medical professionals diagnose any underlying issues. 

They work closely with patients throughout the imaging process, providing explanations and answering any questions that may arise. They are responsible for operating specialized equipment, keeping detailed patient records, organizing data into reports, and ensuring safety protocols are followed during imaging sessions.

  • Typical Education: Associates
  • Licensing or Certifying Organization: American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS), American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (AART), and Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI)
Kimmy Gustafson

Kimmy Gustafson

Writer

At HealthcareDegree.com, Kimmy Gustafson has delivered in-depth and insightful articles since 2019, aiding prospective students to navigate the complexities of choosing the right healthcare degree. Her recent work includes topics such as the ethics of gene editing and physician assistant’s fight for autonomy.

Kimmy has been a freelance writer for more than a decade, writing hundreds of articles on a wide variety of topics such as startups, nonprofits, healthcare, kiteboarding, the outdoors, and higher education. She is passionate about seeing the world and has traveled to over 27 countries. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Oregon. When not working, she can be found outdoors, parenting, kiteboarding, or cooking.

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