So you have decided to enroll in an X-ray tech school near Birmingham AL so you can train to be a radiology technician. And now that you have decided to go into the satisfying field of healthcare, just how do you set about selecting the ideal school and program so that you will get 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 subsequently work you might need training to pass a licensing test. So it's imperative that you investigate each of the X-ray technician schools you are considering in order to evaluate each program. Many students begin by looking for colleges or technical schools that are within commuting distance of their homes. Next, they check tuition and typically settle on the lowest cost. But while cost and location need to be taken into account, there are other significant qualifications also. For example, you must ask whether or not 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 reviewing are presented later in this article. But first, let's discuss what a radiologic technician does and the degrees and education options that are offered.
Radiology Technician Work Summary
There are several professional titles for x-ray techs (technicians or technologists). They can also be referred to as radiologic technologists, radiologic technicians, radiographers or radiology techs. Regardless of the name, they all have the same major job function, which is to employ imaging machines to internally visualize patients for the purpose of diagnosis and treatment. Some radiologic technologists may also administer radiation therapy for treating cancer. Many choose to perform as generalists, while there are those that have chosen a specialization, such as mammography. They can practice in Birmingham AL clinics, hospitals, family practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. The imaging technologies that an X-Ray technician may utilize 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 plus regularly assess its performance and safety. They are additionally required to keep detailed records of all of their diagnostic procedures. As health practitioners, they must adhere to a code of conduct and a high professional standard.
X-Ray Technician Degrees Available
The primary prerequisite for enrolling in an x-ray tech college is to have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Radiologic technologist students have the opportunity to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree, which is the most prevalent among techs, generally takes 18 months to 2 years to complete depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take more time at up to four 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 acceptable also. Something to bear in mind is that radiographer programs have a clinical training or lab component as a component of their course of study. It can frequently be satisfied by participating in an internship program which many colleges sponsor through local clinics and hospitals in Birmingham AL or their region. After you have graduated from any of the degree programs, you will need to comply with any licensing or certification requirements in Alabama or the state you will be practicing in as applicable.
X-Ray Tech Certification and Licensing
Once you have graduated from an x-ray technician school, depending on the state where you will be practicing you might need to be licensed. The majority of states do mandate licensing, and their criteria differ so contact your state. At present, all states that do require licensure will accept The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification examination for the purpose of licensing, but many provide additional alternatives for testing as well. A number of states also require certification as part of the licensing process, if not it is voluntary. Having said that, many healthcare employers will only hire radiology techs that are certified so it may increase your career options in and around Birmingham AL to become certified. ARRT's certification program involves graduation from an accepted program in addition to a passing score on their comprehensive exam. ARRT also calls for re-certification every 2 years, which can be met with 24 credits of continuing ed, or by passing an exam.
Online X-Ray Technician Schools
As a part of any degree program, x-ray tech schools will have clinical or lab training included in their course of study. This is no different for online degree colleges. So while you can still obtain your online degree, a significant portion of the training will be completed either in a college lab or in an internship off campus. Clinical training is typically carried out in Birmingham AL hospitals, outpatient clinics or private practices in sponsorship with the colleges. However the online section of the training may be accessed in the comfort of your home. Students who continue working while earning their degree often find that the online approach to learning is far more practical with their busy schedules. Plus online colleges are generally more affordable than conventional alternatives. Along with reduced tuition, expenditures for commuting and study materials can be lessened as well. But just be sure that the online school you select is accredited (more on the advantages of accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn with this less formalized type of training, then online classes may be the best choice for you.
Points to Ask Radiologic Tech Programs
After you have chosen the type of degree that you want to obtain, you can initiate the process of finding and evaluating x-ray tech schools near Birmingham AL. You will also have to decide if you want to attend online classes or commute 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 secondary expenses will be a determining factor as well. But in addition to cost and location, what more should you consider when comparing colleges? Well, you need to check out if the colleges are accredited, and if they sponsor internship or externship programs. To help you learn some of these essential details before you make your selection, we have put together a list of questions that you need to ask the schools you are looking at.
Are the Radiology Technician Schools Accredited? Most radiology tech colleges have obtained some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Nevertheless, it's still crucial to verify that the program and school are accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations in the field of radiology is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). Programs obtaining accreditation from the JRCERT have gone through a detailed review of their teachers and educational materials. If the college is online it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with guaranteeing a premium education, accreditation will also assist in securing financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not available for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Birmingham AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited program for entry level openings.
Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the xray tech colleges you are interested in have associations with regional clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to obtain hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they may assist graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Birmingham AL medical community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in Birmingham AL in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the x-ray tech schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the college they select will need to be within travelling distance of their Birmingham AL residence. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the Birmingham AL colleges you are researching 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 final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the xray tech program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the radiographer program you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Birmingham AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Birmingham X-Ray Tech School
Enrolling in the ideal x-ray tech college is a critical first step toward starting a gratifying new career furnishing diagnostic medical services to patients. The suitable radiologic technologist must be in good physical shape. X-Ray techs regularly stand for the greater part of the day and position and in some cases lift the patient to obtain the proper image. Prospects must also show a capability to pay strict attention to detail and to comply with the safety guidelines developed to protect both the medical team and the patient. X-Ray techs work very closely with patients, other techs as well as the radiologists and other doctors. Having interpersonal skills is a necessity in order to have a good work environment and provide the best possible care to patients. As has been addressed in this article, there are a number of questions that you need to ask each college you are assessing prior to making your ultimate decision. This is just as true whether you enroll in an online school or commute to classes on campus. By asking the right questions you can analyze and compare each school so you can focus your options before making your decision. And with the right education and your dedication to be successful, you can achieve your goal to practice as a radiologic technologist in Birmingham Alabama.