So you have made the decision to enroll in an X-ray tech school near Decatur AL so you can learn to be a radiologic technician. And now that you have chosen to enter the gratifying field of healthcare, exactly how do you set about selecting the right college and program to ensure that you will receive the proper training to become a qualified professional? And because most states do mandate that radiology techs become licensed, depending on where you subsequently work you might need preparation to pass a licensing examination. So it's important that you investigate each of the X-ray technician schools you are looking at so that you can compare each program. Many students begin by searching for colleges or technical schools that are within commuting distance of their homes. Next, they compare tuition and frequently gravitate toward the lowest cost. But while cost and location need to be taken into consideration, there are additional significant qualifications also. For instance, you must find out if the radiology tech schools are accredited, or if they sponsor internship programs. These inquiries and others you must ask the X-ray Tech schools you are considering are presented later in this post. But first, let's discuss what a radiology tech does and the degrees and education choices that are available.
Radiology Tech Career Summary
There are a number of professional designations for x-ray techs (technologists or technicians). They can also be referred to as radiologic technicians or technologists, radiographers or radiology techs. Regardless of the name, they all have the same principal job function, which is to use imaging machines to internally view patients for the purpose of diagnosis and treatment. A number of radiologic technologists might also provide radiation therapy for treating cancer. Some elect to practice as generalists, while there are those that have chosen a specialty, for instance mammography. They may work in Decatur AL clinics, hospitals, private 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 must take care of their equipment and routinely analyze its performance and safety. They are also required to retain complete records of each of their diagnostic procedures. As health practitioners, they are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct.
Radiology Tech Degree Options
The standard requirement for attending an x-ray tech program is to have attained a high school diploma or equivalent. Radiologic technologist students have the choice to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree, which is the most prevalent among technicians, generally requires 18 months to two years to complete based upon the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take more time at as much as four years to finish and is more extensive in scope. Most students opt for a degree major in Radiography, but there are other similar majors that are acceptable also. Something to keep in mind is that radiographer colleges have a clinical training or lab component as part of their curriculum. It can frequently be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which a large number of schools sponsor through local hospitals and clinics in Decatur AL or their area. Once you have graduated from any of the degree programs, you will need to abide by any certification or licensing requirements in Alabama or the state you will be practicing in as applicable.
Radiographer Licensing and Certification
When you have graduated from an X-Ray tech program, based on the state where you will be working you might have to become licensed. The majority of states do require licensing, and their requirements differ so get in touch with your state. Currently, all states that do require licensing will recognize The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification exam for the purpose of licensing, but many provide other options for testing also. Some states also require certification as a component of the licensing procedure, if not it is optional. Having said that, numerous healthcare employers will only hire radiology techs that are certified so it may enhance your career options in and around Decatur AL to earn certification. ARRT's certification program involves graduation from an approved program in addition to a passing score on their comprehensive examination. ARRT also demands re-certification every two years, which can be fulfilled with 24 credits of continuing ed, or by passing an exam.
Online Radiology Technologist Colleges
As a part of any degree program, x-ray tech colleges will have practical or lab training included in their curriculum. This is no different for online degree schools. So while you can still earn your degree online, a significant amount of the training will be completed either in a school lab or in an internship off campus. Practical training is typically provided in Decatur AL family practices, medical clinics or hospitals in sponsorship with the schools. But the online portion of the training may be attended in the privacy of your home. Students who continue working while obtaining their degree typically discover that the online style of education is much more convenient with their hectic schedules. Plus online programs are frequently less costly than traditional alternatives. Along with reduced tuition, costs for study materials and commuting can be reduced also. But just make certain that the online college you choose is accredited (more on the benefits of accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to learn with this less structured type of training, then online classes may be the ideal choice for you.
Topics to Ask Radiographer Programs
After you have decided on the kind of degree that you want to earn, you can initiate the process of searching for and evaluating x-ray tech schools near Decatur AL. You will also have to determine if you prefer to attend classes online or travel to a local campus. If you opt for the latter, then of course the location of the school will be important. The price of tuition and secondary expenses will be an important factor as well. But in addition to cost and location, what else should you look at when comparing colleges? Well, you should check out if the schools are accredited, and if they sponsor internship or externship programs. To help you find out some of these essential details prior to making your decision, we have compiled a list of questions that you need to ask the programs you are looking at.
Are the X-Ray Tech Schools Accredited? A large number of xray tech colleges have obtained some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still imperative to confirm that the school and program 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 earning accreditation from the JRCERT have gone through an extensive evaluation of their instructors and course materials. If the program is online it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. 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 help in getting financial aid and student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Decatur AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry-level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the xray tech programs you are reviewing have associations with regional hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to receive hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a way to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Decatur AL health care community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in Decatur AL in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the x-ray tech schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the school they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Decatur AL residence. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local 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 perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the Decatur AL schools you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the xray tech program also.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the xray tech school you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Decatur AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Decatur X-Ray Tech School
Selecting the ideal x-ray technician college is a crucial first step toward initiating a gratifying new career providing diagnostic medical services to patients. The suitable radiologic technologist must be in good physical condition. Radiology techs typically stand for the greater part of the workday and move and at times lift the patient to obtain the proper image. Candidates must also show an ability to pay close attention to detail and to adhere to the safety requirements developed to protect both the patient and the medical team. X-Ray techs work very closely with patients, other technicians as well as the doctors and radiologists. Having interpersonal skills is a must in order to have a pleasant work environment and deliver the best available care to patients. As has been covered in this article, there are several questions that you should ask each college you are considering before making your ultimate selection. This is similarly true whether you opt for an online school or drive 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 appropriate training and your commitment to be successful, you can realize your goal to practice as a X-ray tech in Decatur Alabama.