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Different Careers in Radiology

Are you enamored with the groundbreaking technology used in the medical field? Then you might want to consider turning that interest into your career. And one of the best options out there is radiology. Radiology basically encompasses things like the MRI and the x-ray, medical imaging techniques that give doctors the tools to diagnose diseases and ailments. Radiology technology can even be used to treat some illnesses, such as radiation therapy in cancer cases. Because of the wide amount of applications, careers in radiology can take you into a large number of specializations. In every case you’ll need a four-year bachelor’s degree in a scientific subject, a full medical school degree and a residency period in a radiology department. Additional specializations might require certifications, or other degrees. Here are just a few of the different careers in radiology you might want to consider.

Probably the most common career is that of the radiographic technician. These are the folks that use radiation machines to pull images for use in diagnoses. As a radiographic technician, you will get your hands on mammography screening machines, x-ray units, cardiovascular intervention technology and magnetic resonance imagery, or MRI machines. You’ll find work in private practices and busy hospitals, and can specialize further on various ailments. There’s a wide range of average salaries, depending on the type of training and experience you have acquired, but the opportunities will top off in the mid-five figure range.

Another specialization around that same level of earning potential is that of the sonogram or ultrasound radiologist. You’ll primarily use mobile imaging machines to explore the soft tissue systems of the body, deeper than an x-ray machine can reach. In some cases you’ll work with women, checking on the health and development of a fetus, in others you’ll be looking for organ damage, exploring the health of the kidney or the liver. Ultrasound is even used in some physical therapy centers, to gauge the healing progress in muscular systems. This is a specialization you can pursue almost anywhere, working as a mobile tech, or you can settle into a hospital or doctor’s office.

You might also choose to specialize in radiation therapy. In this case, you’ll be working with cancer patients, administering the radiation treatments. You’ll be responsible for managing the dosage, working closely with their doctor to chart the progress and make adjustments when necessary. Radiation therapy is designed to stop cancers from growing and hopefully to get them to trend in the other direction. If you’re dedicated to your craft, you could train to become a radiologic oncologist, which is a medical doctor who specializes in this area. If you go that route, you can expect a salary well into six figures.

Another solid option is becoming a radiology assistant. This is one of the newer specializations that is recognized by the national organization that certifies radiologic technologists. You could find yourself in this position with a bachelors degree in radiology and some advanced study. You’ll need to gain a bit more experience working under radiologists, but after some time you’ll be able to weigh in on the results of tests. As an assistant your authority will be limited, however, as will your earning potential.