So you have decided to enroll in an X-ray tech school near Birmingham AL so you can train to be a radiologic technician. But now that you have decided to go into the rewarding field of healthcare, exactly how do you set about selecting the right college and program to ensure that you will obtain the proper training to become a skilled practitioner? And since the majority of states do mandate that x-ray techs become licensed, based on where you ultimately work you may need training to pass a licensing exam. So it's important that you research each of the X-ray technician schools you are looking at so that you can evaluate each program. A number of potential students begin by searching for colleges or technical schools that are within commuting distance of their residences. Next, they check tuition and usually gravitate toward the most affordable cost. But while location and cost should be taken into account, there are additional important qualifiers also. For instance, you need to ask if the radiology tech schools are accredited, or if they sponsor internship programs. These questions and others you must ask the X-ray Tech schools you are examining are presented later in this article. But first, let's talk about what a radiologic tech does and the credentials and training choices that are available.
Radiology Technician Occupation Description
There are several professional titles for x-ray techs (technicians or technologists). They may also be referred to as radiologic technicians or technologists, radiology technicians or radiographers. Irrespective of the name, they all have the same primary job description, which is to employ imaging machines to internally view patients for the objective of diagnosis and treatment. A number of radiologic technologists might also provide radiation therapy for the treatment of cancer. Many opt to practice as generalists, while others may choose a specialty, for example mammography. They may work in Birmingham AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. The imaging technologies that an X-Ray tech may utilize include:
- Traditional and specialized X-Rays
- Computerized tomography (CT) or "CAT" scans
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Sonography or ultrasound
Radiographers have to take care of their equipment and also routinely analyze its functionality and safety. They are also expected to retain detailed records of all of their diagnostic procedures. As medical practitioners, they are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct.
X-Ray Tech Degree Options
The standard prerequisite for attending a radiology tech school is to have attained a high school diploma or GED. Radiologic technologist students have the option to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree, which is the most prevalent among technicians, generally takes 18 months to 2 years to complete based upon the program and course load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to four years to finish and is more expansive in nature. The majority of students choose a degree major in Radiography, but there are other similar majors that may be acceptable also. Something to bear in mind is that radiographer schools have a clinical training or lab component as part of their curriculum. It can typically be satisfied by participating in an internship program which many colleges sponsor through local hospitals and clinics in Birmingham AL or their area. After you have graduated from one of the degree programs, you will need to comply with any certification or licensing requirements in Alabama or the state you will be working as applicable.
X-Ray Tech Certification and Licensing
After you have graduated from an Radiologist college, depending on the state where you will be working you may have to become licensed. Most states do mandate licensing, and their requirements differ so contact your state. Presently, all states that do require licensing will recognize The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification exam for the licensing application, but several accept other options for testing also. Several states also require certification as part of the licensing procedure, otherwise it is optional. However, many healthcare employers favor hiring radiology techs that have earned certification so it could enhance your career options in and around Birmingham AL to earn certification. ARRT's certification program requires graduation from an accepted program in addition to a passing score on their comprehensive examination. ARRT also demands re-certification every 2 years, which may be met with 24 credits of continuing ed, or by passing an exam.
Online Radiology Tech Degrees
As a component of every degree program, x-ray tech colleges will have clinical or lab training included in their course of study. This is no different for online degree colleges. So although you can still earn your degree online, a substantial amount of the training will be fulfilled either in a school lab or in an internship off campus. Clinical training is typically provided in Birmingham AL hospitals, outpatient clinics or private practices in sponsorship with the colleges. But the online portion of the training can be attended in the comfort of your home. Students who continue working while obtaining their degree typically discover that the online approach to learning is far more practical with their busy schedules. Plus online programs are generally cheaper than traditional options. In addition to lower tuition, costs for commuting and study materials may be reduced as well. But just confirm that the online program you pick is accredited (more on the advantages of accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn with this less structured type of training, then an online school may be the right choice for you.
Topics to Ask Radiographer Programs
Once you have selected the type of degree that you would like to earn, you can initiate the process of searching for and assessing x-ray tech schools near Birmingham AL. You will also have to decide if you prefer to attend classes online or travel to a local campus. If you choose the latter, then of course the location of the school will be critical. The price of tuition and supplementary expenditures will be a determining variable also. But in addition to location and cost, what more should you consider when reviewing colleges? Well, you should check out if the schools are accredited, and if they provide externship or internship programs. To help you uncover some of these crucial details prior to making your decision, we have compiled a list of questions that you need to ask the colleges you are assessing.
Are the Radiology Tech Colleges Accredited? Most radiology tech schools have earned some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, it's still important to verify that the school and program are accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies in the field of radiology is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). Schools obtaining accreditation from the JRCERT have undergone an extensive review of their instructors and course materials. If the program is online it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance 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 getting financial aid and student loans, which are many times not accessible for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Birmingham AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry-level jobs.
Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the radiology tech schools you are evaluating have partnerships with area hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent manner to obtain hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a way to satisfy the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Birmingham AL health care community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in Birmingham AL in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the x-ray tech schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the college they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Birmingham AL residence. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the Birmingham AL colleges you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the xray tech program as well.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the radiographer college you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Birmingham AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Birmingham X-Ray Tech Program
Picking the ideal radiology tech college is a crucial first step toward initiating a satisfying new career providing diagnostic medical services to patients. The ideal radiologic technologist should be in good physical shape. Radiology techs typically stand for the majority of the working day and position and in some cases lift the patient to obtain the proper image. Candidates must also show an ability to pay strict attention to detail and to comply with the safety guidelines designed to protect both the medical team and the patient. Radiology technicians work very closely with patients, other technicians as well as the doctors and radiologists. Possessing interpersonal skills is a must in order to have a good work environment and furnish the best available patient care. As has been covered in this article, there are a number of questions that you need to ask each program you are considering prior to making your final decision. This is similarly true whether you opt for an online program or commute to classes on campus. By asking the appropriate questions you can evaluate and compare each school so you can focus your options before making your decision. And with the right education and your commitment to be successful, you can achieve your goal to work as a X-ray tech in Birmingham Alabama.