What is radiology?
Radiology is the study of visual images of the human body and is also sometimes referred to as radioscopy or clinical radiology. It is a specialization within medicine used to diagnose and treat disease.
Traditionally, radiology was conducted using x-rays or radiological devices, but advances in technology have enabled the introduction of many new diagnostic imaging techniques including ultrasounds, computed tomography (CT scans) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs). These images are used by radiologists to identify abnormalities and diagnose disease. Radiology also plays a crucial part in targeting cancer and is used to destroy cancerous cells.
Careers in Radiology
Radiology is a fast growing field, with a projected growth rate of employment of 28% from 2010 through 2020 for radiologic technologists, as according to BLS. They are increasingly required in hospitals and physicians’ offices. Hospitals are the biggest employers of radiologists, followed by physicians’ offices; however, with the growth in external diagnostic imaging centers there are, and will continue to be, more radiology jobs outside the hospital.
Diagnostic radiologists are trained doctors, responsible for detecting and treating illnesses, whilst radiology technicians provide assistance to the radiologists and perform the diagnostic imaging procedures. It is also possible for technicians to progress to the position of a radiologist assistant, whereby they will assist with high-level tasks and be involved in making judgements about the images.
Training in Radiology
Since there is a high demand for radiologists, many radiology schools offer degrees in this field. Radiology Technician Schools will require students to have completed high school courses in maths and the sciences for eligibility.
A diagnostic radiologist will need to have a medical degree and have completed an internship and some years of residency. In order to practice in radiology they must also pass an exam and be certified by the The American Registry of Radiologic Technologist (ARRT). Many diagnostic radiologists later return to radiology technician schools to complete fellowships in a specialization, e.g. paediatric radiology, women’s radiology, radiation oncology or nuclear medicine.
Most employers will require entry-level radiology technicians to have at least an Associate or a Bachelor’s degree. Radiologists should have a Master’s degree. Many radiology schools offer these qualifications, and students will need to opt for the course which is most appropriate to their career goals.
An Associate degree may be completed in 2 years, while a Bachelor’s may stretch for 4 years. Both these programs can be completed in longer or shorter durations, depending on the format. The programs will consist of classes, coursework and practical experience, with the bachelor’s providing a more in-depth understanding and preparation for higher level jobs. These programs can either be online or campus-based at radiology schools.
According to the BLS, the median salary for a radiologic technologist was $54,620 per year in May 2012, with those of the top-ten lot being above $77,160.