Online Degrees In Radiologic Science

Did you know that the medical technicians who operate x-ray and similar machines need specialized degrees in their fields? The medical field that uses sound waves, ionizing radiation and magnetic fields to treat diseases or create images of the body for diagnoses is called radiologic science. The accuracy and quality of the images radiologic technicians create can make a world of a difference in the diagnosis and treatment of a patient.

The College Board states that it can help prospective students of the field to be detail oriented and fond of math. Being physically fit and a good communicator can help too as technicians may have to lift injured patients as well as explain complicated medical terminology simply. Online radiologic science degree programs can help students, whether they are recent high school graduates, career changers or working professionals, develop these skills and gain the knowledge they need to work in the field.

Many radiology students are surprised to learn that they can earn online degrees in radiologic science. Book-centric classes like medical terminology and ethics may be taken online while additional labs or coursework may need students to be present in the classroom. Sometimes these hands-on requirements can be met through a local colleges, hospitals or patient care centers.

Radiologic technicians’ duties typically include:

  • Adjusting and maintaining imaging equipment
  • Preparing patients by taking medical histories, explaining procedures and answering questions
  • Positioning patients and adjusting the equipment to take precise images
  • Operating equipment to take images and evaluating them with physicians
  • Keeping patient records

These professionals may work in hospitals, emergency rooms, physicians’ offices, and medical and diagnostic laboratories and other healthcare facilities. They operate x-ray and Computed Tomography (CT) imaging machinery to obtain the images necessary for the diagnoses and treatment of patients.

Artificial intelligence in the medical imaging market is estimated to rise from $21.48 billion in 2018 to a projected value of $264.85 billion by 2026, according to Data Bridge Market Research’s April 2019 report. (Definitive Healthcare, 2019)

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that many healthcare occupations including those related to radiologic sciences may grow as the baby-boomer population ages and the requirement for diagnostic and treatment technology grows.

The table below lists the occupations related to the field of radiologic science along with their median wages, employment outlook and projected job growth using data from the BLS.

Career
Employment
Median Salary
Projected Job Growth
Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists37,900$74,27010.9%
Radiologic Technologists and Technicians207,360$63,1209%
Radiation Therapists17,860$91,6208.5%

Source: 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

What can I do with a degree in radiologic science?

Students may be able to obtain an online radiologic science degree at the following levels:

  • Associate degrees
  • Bachelor’s degrees
  • Master’s degrees
  • Post-graduate degrees, PhDs
  • Professional or entry-level certificates

They should choose online radiologic science degree programs that reflect their career goals. For example, those who want to become radiologists must attend medical school and earn Ph.Ds. while those considering entry-level radiological technician careers may get by with certificates or associate degrees. Also, certificates can vary depending on their purpose: some certificates are designed to help entry-level support specialists enter their fields quickly while others are designed for degree-holders who want to become specialists.

What can I expect to learn in an online associate degree program?

Students aspiring to earn a radiologic science associate degree online may expect to learn about human anatomy and diseases along with developing patient care and clinical skills. Students may also learn about how safety standards are maintained while using radiologic equipment and machinery.

Typical duration: Up to two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent

Typical coursework: Programs of study usually include foundational topics like basic physics, chemistry and human anatomy before progressing into core subjects. Core topics may include:

  • Introduction to medical imaging and patient care
  • Pathology for radiographers
  • Radiobiology and radiation protection
  • Radiographic physics
  • Radiographic positioning and anatomy

Students may also have to complete a capstone project as a part of their online radiologic science degree program.

What kind of jobs can I get after earning an associate degree in radiologic science?

An associate degree in radiologic science may qualify you to work in entry-level roles in a variety of healthcare settings. Depending on your duties, job titles may include:

  • Radiologic technologist
  • Computed tomography technologist
  • Mammographer
  • X-ray technologist
AI has the potential to revolutionize the medical imaging industry by sifting through mountains of scans quickly and offering providers and patients with life-changing insights into a variety of diseases, injuries, and conditions that may be hard to detect without the supplemental technology. (Definitive Healthcare, 2019)

What can I expect to learn in an online bachelor’s degree program?

Prospective students of online radiologic science bachelor’s degree programs may commonly find the following two types of programs available:

  • Regular programs: They accept students with a high school diploma and usually take up to four years of full-time study. They normally have a hands-on component.
  • Completion programs: They typically require students to hold a certificate or an associate degree along with professional certifications/licensures. They take approximately two years to complete. They may be completely online or hybrid.

Students of online bachelor’s degree programs in radiologic science tackle more advanced medical imaging techniques than those pursuing associate degrees. They can learn how radiologic technology departments are administered along with exploring the legal and ethical aspects of healthcare.

Typical duration: Two to four years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent/ associate degree and AART registration

Typical coursework: Apart from general education requirements, topics explore radiological procedures and help students develop leadership capabilities in the field. Courses you may take include:

  • Advanced patient assessments and treatments
  • Introduction to invasive imaging procedures
  • Radiographic critique
  • Radiology administration law and ethics
  • Radiology/healthcare administration

You may have to complete a capstone project in order to meet your online radiologic science degree requirements.

What kind of jobs can I get after earning a bachelor’s in radiologic science?

A bachelor’s degree may allow you to work in supervisory positions in healthcare facilities or enable you to continue your education with an online radiologic science master’s degree. Depending on where you work and your specialization, potential job titles include:

  • Imaging department administrator
  • MRI technologist
  • Radiological assistant
  • Radiology supervisor
  • Radiologic equipment sales manager
Now, new augmented reality technologies, like EchoPixel True 3D, have made it possible for radiologists or physicians to take slices of MRI pictures to create a 3D image that physicians can examine with 3D glasses, a VR headset, or even print using a 3D printer and special plastic. (Definitive Healthcare, 2019)

What can I expect to learn in an online master’s degree program?

Online radiologic science master’s degree programs can allow students to explore management, instruction and quality control techniques and clinical practice methodologies along with how to diagnose ailments in different systems of the body.

Typical duration: Up to two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree in radiological sciences or related field, AART registration

Typical coursework: Topics explore the business and advanced patient care aspects of radiology. Courses you may take include:

  • Human resource management in health care
  • Managing health information
  • Problem patient management
  • Roles and responsibilities in RAD. Procedures, tech, and quality care
  • Vascular non-invasive imaging

You may need to complete a master’s thesis and/or clinical placements as a part of your online radiologic science master’s degree program.

Possible electives: Musculoskeletal sonography; functional hymodynamics; clinical pathways

What kind of jobs can I get after earning a master’s in radiologic science?

A master’s degree in radiologic science can qualify graduates for leadership or educator roles in healthcare facilities and educational institutions. Depending on specializations, graduates may also enter management or administrative roles in the system. While some job titles may be similar to those with a bachelor’ degree, they may come with higher salaries and/or increased responsibilities. Potential job titles include:

  • Radiology manager
  • Radiology instructor
  • Radiologist assistant

Online graduate certificates may suit those who already have a degree in radiologic sciences and are looking to advance their education or want to specialize in one aspect of the field. Certificate programs are usually focused and thereby take a shorter time to complete than a full-fledged master’s degree. Some certificate programs may also be available to AART registered individuals with an associate degree. Certificate programs may open up specialized career opportunities for interested individuals – whether it is in mammography, MRI or CT among others.

Typical duration: One to two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree in radiological science, AART registration

Typical coursework: Topics you study can vary on the focus of your program. Some subjects you may study include:

  • CT physics and imaging equipment
  • Mammographic procedures
  • Principles of MRI
  • Quality management in medical imaging
  • Sectional anatomy

Accreditation

Accreditation plays an important role for both the online radiologic science degree program and the students enrolled in it. An accredited status demonstrates that the program has been evaluated by a body of experts and meets or exceeds the standards of education necessary to work in the field. For students, attending an accredited school or program can be an important prerequisite for receiving financial aid and scholarships as well as professional certifications after graduation. Employers may also prefer hiring candidates who have graduated from accredited programs over those who have not.

Accreditation may be regional, national or programmatic. The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) accredits programs in radiography while MRI programs are accredited by the American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists (ARMRIT).

Specializations in Radiologic Science

There are several branches within the radiologic sciences field that use different machinery and methods to create images of various parts of the body or to administer treatment. For example a dosimetrist calculates the precise dose of radiation to be delivered to a patient receiving treatment for cancer while a sonographer generates images using ultrasound waves. Specializations may allow you to advance your career or find a niche that interests you. Some specializations are:

  • Bone densitometry
  • Computed tomography
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technology
  • Mammography
  • Nuclear medicine
  • Sonography

Licensures and Certifications in Radiologic Science

Licensure requirements vary from state to state. However, the BLS reports that most states require radiologic technologists to be licensed or certified. Candidates may need to pass an examination held by the state and graduate from an accredited program in order to receive their licenses. Certifications may be obtained from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). While certifications may not always be mandatory, many employers prefer hiring candidates who hold ARRT certifications as they can demonstrate your commitment to providing high-quality care.

Certifications typically need to be renewed periodically via continuing education classes.

As with many high-demand fields, there are plenty of scholarships available for eligible students in the field of radiologic sciences. Scholarships and financial aid programs may be offered by colleges, universities, educational foundations, medical facilities and more. It can be a good idea to check with your school’s financial aid office to see if you are eligible for any of their offerings.

We’ve listed a few resources below to help you get started in your search.

Other resources for aspiring radiologic technologists

Employment Statistics

Radiologist Technologists

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories
  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals
  • Offices of Physicians
  • Outpatient Care Centers
  • Specialty (except Psychiatric and Substance Abuse) Hospitals
States with the highest level of employment
  • California
  • Texas
  • Florida
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • Vallejo-Fairfield, CA
  • Salinas, CA
  • Sacramento — Roseville — Arden-Arcade, CA
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
  • Stockton-Lodi, CA

Radiation Therapists

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Specialty (except Psychiatric and Substance Abuse) Hospitals
  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals
  • Offices of Physicians
  • Outpatient Care Centers
  • Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories
States with the highest level of employment
  • Texas
  • New York
  • California
  • Florida
  • Wisconsin
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • Sacramento — Roseville — Arden-Arcade, CA
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
  • San Diego-Carlsbad, CA
  • New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA

Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Sources:

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  • Nuclear Medicine Technologists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nuclear-medicine-technologists.htm, accessed September 2019
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  • Radiation Therapists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/radiation-therapists.htm, accessed September 2019
  • Radiologic and Imaging Sciences Program, University of Southern Indiana, https://www.usi.edu/health/radiologic-and-imaging-sciences/radiologic-technology-standard-bachelors-degree-program/mission-and-goals/, accessed September 2019
  • Radiologic and MRI Technologists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/radiologic-technologists.htm, accessed September 2019
  • Radiologic Sciences Degrees, Requirements for a Professional Certificate in Radiologic Sciences, https://www.coloradomesa.edu/health-sciences/documents/rs-prof-certificates-information-packet-2017.pdf, accessed September 2019
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