So you have made the decision to enroll in an X-ray tech school near Bessemer AL in order to learn to be a radiologic technician. But now that you have chosen to go into the satisfying field of healthcare, exactly how do you undertake choosing the right college and program so that you will receive the proper training to become a skilled practitioner? And because most states do mandate that x-ray technicians become licensed, depending on where you ultimately practice you may need preparation to pass a licensing test. So it's essential that you assess each of the X-ray technician schools you are looking at in order to evaluate each program. Many potential students start by looking for technical schools or colleges that are within commuting distance of their homes. Next, they compare tuition and often settle on the lowest cost. But while cost and location must be taken into account, there are other critical qualifiers as well. For instance, you must find out whether or not the radiology tech schools are accredited, or if they offer internship programs. These inquiries and others you must ask the X-ray Tech schools you are evaluating are presented later in this post. But first, let's discuss what a radiologic technician does and the degrees and education choices that are available.
X-Ray Technician Job Summary
There are a number of professional titles for x-ray techs (technicians or technologists). They may also be referred to as radiologic technicians or technologists, radiographers or radiology techs. No matter what the name, they all have the same primary job description, which is to use imaging machines to internally view patients for the purpose of diagnosis and treatment. A number of radiologic technologists may also administer radiation therapy for the treatment of cancer. Some choose to practice as generalists, while others may choose a specialization, for instance mammography. They can work in Bessemer AL clinics, hospitals, family practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. The imaging technologies that an X-Ray tech may work with include:
- Traditional and specialized X-Rays
- Computerized tomography (CT) or "CAT" scans
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Sonography or ultrasound
Radiographers have to maintain their equipment and regularly analyze its functionality and safety. They are additionally expected to retain detailed records of each of their diagnostic procedures. As health practitioners, they must adhere to a code of conduct and a high professional standard.
X-Ray Tech Degrees Offered
The basic prerequisite for enrolling in an x-ray tech college is to have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Radiologic technologist students have the option to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree, which is the most prevalent among technicians, usually takes 18 months to two years to finish depending on the program and course load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as much as 4 years to finish and is more extensive in nature. Most students select a degree major in Radiography, but there are other similar majors that may be appropriate as well. One thing to keep in mind is that radiographer schools have a practical training or lab component as a component of their course of study. It may often be satisfied by participating in an internship program which many schools offer through local hospitals and clinics in Bessemer AL or their region. Once you have graduated from any of the degree programs, you will need to comply with any certification or licensing requirements in Alabama or the state you will be practicing in as applicable.
Radiographer Certification and Licensing
Once you have graduated from an X-Ray tech school, based on the state where you will be working you may need to become licensed. The majority of states do require licensing, and their criteria differ so get in touch with your state. At present, all states that do require licensing will recognize The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification exam for the purpose of licensing, but several approve other alternatives for testing also. Several states also require certification as part of the licensing procedure, if not it is optional. However, numerous healthcare employers prefer to hire radiology techs that have earned certification so it could enhance your career options in and around Bessemer AL to become certified. ARRT's certification program involves graduation from an accepted program as well as a passing score on their comprehensive exam. ARRT also calls for re-certification every two years, which may be fulfilled with 24 credits of continuing ed, or by passing an exam.
Online Radiology Technologist Programs
As a component of every degree program, x-ray tech schools will have clinical or lab training included in their course of study. This is the same for online degree schools. So although you can still earn your degree online, a significant amount of the training will be fulfilled either in a college lab or in an externship off-campus. Practical training is typically provided in Bessemer AL hospitals, outpatient clinics or private practices in sponsorship with the colleges. But the online portion of the training can be attended in the privacy of your residence. Students who keep working while earning their degree often discover that the online style of education is far more convenient with their hectic schedules. Plus online schools are often less expensive than conventional options. Along with lower tuition, costs for study materials and commuting may be reduced also. But just be sure that the online school you choose is accredited (more on the benefits of accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn with this less formalized type of training, then an online school may be the best option for you.
What to Ask Radiology Tech Schools
After you have decided on the type of degree that you would like to obtain, you can start the process of finding and evaluating x-ray tech colleges near Bessemer AL. You will also have to determine if you prefer to attend classes online or drive to a local campus. If you choose the latter, then of course the location of the college will be critical. The cost of tuition and supplementary expenditures will be a material factor also. But along with location and cost, what more should you look at when evaluating schools? Well, you should ask if the colleges are accredited, and if they sponsor internship or externship programs. To help you find out some of these essential details before you make your decision, we have put together a list of questions that you should ask the colleges you are looking at.
Are the X-Ray Tech Colleges Accredited? Most xray tech colleges have received some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still important to make sure that the program and school are accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting agencies in the field of radiology is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). Programs earning accreditation from the JRCERT have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and course materials. If the program is online it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides guaranteeing a superior education, accreditation will also help in acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited schools. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Bessemer AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry level positions.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the radiology tech schools you are interested in have partnerships with regional hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to receive practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Bessemer AL health care community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in Bessemer AL in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the radiographer schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they select will have to be within driving distance of their Bessemer AL residence. Students who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the Bessemer AL colleges you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the xray tech program as well.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the xray tech college you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Bessemer AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Bessemer X-Ray Tech Training
Choosing the ideal x-ray tech school is a critical first step toward initiating a rewarding new career providing diagnostic medical services to patients. The ideal radiologic technologist should be in good physical shape. X-Ray techs regularly stand for the majority of the day and position and in some cases lift the patient to get the proper image. Prospects must also demonstrate an ability to pay close attention to detail and to adhere to the safety guidelines developed to protect both the medical team and the patient. Radiology techs work very closely with patients, other techs as well as the doctors and radiologists. Possessing interpersonal skills is a necessity in order to have a productive work environment and deliver the best available patient care. As has been covered in this post, there are several questions that you need to ask each school you are looking at prior to making your ultimate decision. This is just as true whether you participate in an online program or travel to classes on campus. By asking the right questions you can examine and compare each school so you can focus your options before making your decision. And with the appropriate education and your motivation to succeed, you can realize your goal to work as a radiographer in Bessemer Alabama.