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Jobs in Medical Radiography

Updated on November 7, 2012
Source

© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.

Though a broken femur or a cut on the finger are visibly obvious, many medical conditions are hidden inside the body and can only be diagnosed with interior imaging. Medical radiography careers handle that imaging processes. However, the job category does not include diagnostic medical sonography, which uses high-frequency sound waves for imaging.


Types

Practitioners with medical radiography careers are typically named for the devices that they operate.

  • X-ray technicians, for example, use the electromagnetic emitted by x-ray devices to reveal bones and denser body tissues. Specialists in this technique, known as mammographers, use low-dosage x-rays to detect breast cancer.
  • CT technicians use computed tomography to produce cross-sections of specific areas of the body, which can reveal tumors as well as bone abnormalities.
  • MRI technicians rely on magnetic resonance imaging to visualize internal structures by detecting atoms inside the body.

All these techniques involve radiation in some way, which is responsible for the term radiography.

Duties

Specialists in medical radiography careers, who are called radiographers or radiologic technologists, share many common duties. They maintain, adjust and make minor repairs to their imaging equipment but report more serious issues to repair staff. When they first encounter their patients, they examine their medical histories and the doctors’ orders for imaging, and answer any questions. They then shield the patients’ exposed areas that do not need imaging and position them on the machine. They operate the imaging device and submit the images to the requesting doctor with a preliminary analysis. Finally, they document all their actions for patient records.

Salaries

Medical radiographers earned a mean $53,230 per year, or $25.59 per hour, as of May 2011, states the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • Their lowest compensation fell below $35,100 yearly, or $16.87 hourly, and their highest wages rose above an annual $74,970, or $36.04 per hour.
  • More than half worked in general medical and surgical hospital to receive a mean $53,790 per year, or $25.86 per hour.
  • About 20 percent worked in doctors’ offices to average an annual $50,210, or $24.14 hourly.
  • The top paying employers were scientific research and development services, averaging $63,580 yearly, or $30.57 per hour.

Outlook

An aging population will have more medical conditions that require diagnosis and treatment through radiographic technology. This will fuel the 28 percent job growth predicted for medical radiography careers from 2010 to 2020, which is greater than the 26 percent projected for all health technologists and technicians, and more than the 14 percent seen for all jobs in all fields. Most radiographers will continue to work for hospitals. However, opportunities will also increase in doctors’ offices and imaging centers because of the move toward outpatient care to save money.

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