The radiologic sciences combine science and patient care, making this a popular career path for lab fanatics with a passion for people. Radiologic science degrees come in all shapes and sizes and feed into a variety of growing, and sometimes lucrative, careers. Here's what potential radiologic science majors need to know about this field.
Common types or radiologic science degrees
Radiologic science is a diverse discipline offering online health care degrees and certificates at any level, including the following credentials:
- Associate degrees
- Bachelor's degrees
- Master's degrees
- Post-graduate degrees, PhDs
- Professional or entry-level certificates
Students should choose programs that reflect their career goals: those who want to become radiologists must attend medical school and earn PhDs while those considering entry-level radiological technician careers may get by with certificates or associate degrees. Also, certificates 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.
Some radiologic careers require professionals to be licensed or board certified, and additional continuing education courses (CECs) are typically required to maintain these credentials.
What radiologic science students learn
Classes within a radiologic science degree program depend very much on the specific degree type and discipline. PhD candidates must tackle much more advanced coursework than those pursuing associate degrees, for example, but most programs include some form of the following classes:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Radiation physics
- Medical terminology
- Clinical practice
- Radiographic physics
The ideal radiology student
While radiologic science programs vary, most are designed for patient care professionals. Ideal students are very math and science oriented with a passion for helping others. Those pursuing advanced degrees may be required to complete four years as residents in addition to four years of medical school, so it helps to be dedicated. Because radiology professionals often work with uneasy patients, a good dose of patience is a major plus, as is the ability to convey complicated information in a simple, unintimidating way.
Popular careers for radiologic science majors
The future is bright for radiologic science majors: depending on their degree and experience, there are several potential careers for these grads. The following are some of the most common careers in this field:
- Radiologic technologists and technicians
- Diagnostic medical sonographers
- Radiation therapists
- Registered nurses (radiology specialists)
- Radiology instructors
Many of these careers are growing, but demand can be especially high for radiation therapists, radiologic technicians and registered nurses (RNs).
Potential for online degrees in radiologic science
Many radiology students are surprised to learn that they can earn online degrees in radiologic science. This is particularly true for book-centric classes like medical terminology and ethics. Radiology is a very hands-on profession, however, which means that most students need to complete additional labs or coursework in the classroom. Sometimes these requirements can be met through a local colleges, hospitals or patient care centers.
At a glance:
- Radiological technicians are professionals who can enter the field with certificates, associate degrees or bachelor's degrees.
- The BLS projects radiation therapist careers will grow by 13 percent between 2016 and 2026.
- Radiation Therapists, Similar Occupations, Occupational Outlook Handbook, The Bureau of Labor Statistics, United States Department of Labor, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/radiation-therapists.htm#tab-8, accessed November 2018
- Major: Medical Radiologic Technology, The College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/health-professions-related-clinical-sciences-allied-health-diagnosis-intervention-treatment-medical-radiologic-technology, accessed November 2018