So you have made the decision to enroll in an X-ray tech school near Gardendale AL so you can learn to be a radiologic technician. But now that you have chosen to go into the satisfying field of healthcare, just how do you tackle choosing the ideal school and program to ensure that you will get the appropriate training to become a qualified professional? And because most states do require that radiology techs become licensed, based on where you ultimately practice you might require preparation to pass a licensing exam. So it's imperative that you investigate each of the X-ray technician schools you are looking at in order to compare each program. A number of students begin by looking for technical schools or colleges that are within driving distance of their homes. Next, they compare tuition and typically gravitate toward the most affordable cost. But while location and cost should be taken into account, there are other significant qualifiers also. For example, you need to ask if the radiology tech schools have earned accreditation, or if they offer internship programs. These questions and others you should ask the X-ray Tech schools you are evaluating are presented later in this post. But first, let's discuss what a x-ray technician does and the degrees and training choices that are offered.
Radiology Technician Occupation Summary
There are a number of professional designations for x-ray techs (technologists or technicians). They can also be called radiologic technologists, radiologic technicians, radiology technicians or radiographers. Irrespective of the name, each has the same major job description, which is to employ imaging machines to internally visualize patients for the objective of diagnosis and treatment. Some radiologic technologists might also administer radiation therapy for treating cancer. Some choose to practice as generalists, while others may choose a specialty, for example mammography. They can work in Gardendale AL hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. The imaging technologies that an X-Ray technologist might utilize include:
- Traditional and specialized X-Rays
- Computerized tomography (CT) or "CAT" scans
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Sonography or ultrasound
Radiographers must maintain their equipment plus regularly evaluate its performance and safety. They are also required to retain complete 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 primary prerequisite for enrolling in a radiology tech school is to have received a high school diploma or equivalent. Radiologic technologist students have the opportunity to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree, which is the most prevalent among techs, generally requires 18 months to two years to finish depending on the program and course load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to four years to complete and is more expansive in scope. Most students opt for a degree major in Radiography, but there are other related majors that may be acceptable as well. One thing to keep in mind is that radiographer programs have a clinical training or lab component as a component of their course of study. It can often be satisfied by participating in an internship program which many schools sponsor through local clinics and hospitals in Gardendale AL or their area. Once you have graduated from any of the degree programs, you will need to abide by any certification or licensing mandates in Alabama or the state you will be practicing in as applicable.
Radiologic Technologist Licensing and Certification
When you have graduated from an x-ray technician college, depending on the state where you will be practicing you might have to become licensed. Most states do mandate licensing, and their prerequisites differ so check with your state. At present, all states that do require licensure will recognize The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification exam for the purpose of licensing, but a number provide additional alternatives for testing as well. Several states also require certification as a component of the licensing process, if not it is optional. Having said that, numerous healthcare employers favor hiring radiology techs that have earned certification so it might enhance your career options in and around Gardendale AL to earn certification. ARRT's certification program calls for graduation from an approved program as well as a passing score on their rigorous exam. ARRT also requires re-certification every other year, which may be satisfied with 24 credits of continuing education, or by passing an examination.
Online Radiology Tech Degrees
As a component 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 programs. So although you can still obtain your online degree, a considerable portion of the training will be fulfilled either in a college lab or in an externship off campus. Clinical training is usually provided in Gardendale AL family practices, medical clinics or hospitals 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 earning their degree often find that the online style of learning is far more convenient with their active schedules. Plus online schools are often cheaper than conventional options. Along with reduced tuition, expenditures for study materials and commuting may be reduced as well. But just be sure that the online college you enroll in is accredited (more on the benefits of accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn with this less formalized type of training, then online classes may be the ideal choice for you.
Topics to Ask Radiologic Tech Programs
Once you have decided on the kind of degree that you want to obtain, you can initiate the process of searching for and assessing x-ray tech colleges near Gardendale AL. You will also have to determine if you want to attend classes online or commute to a local campus. If you choose the latter, then of course the location of the school will be relevant. The cost of tuition and supplementary expenditures will be a determining variable as well. But along with cost and location, what more should you look at when reviewing colleges? Well, you need to check out if the colleges are accredited, and if they sponsor internship or externship programs. To help you uncover some of these essential details before you make your decision, we have compiled a list of questions that you need to ask the programs you are considering.
Are the X-Ray Tech Schools Accredited? A large number of xray tech colleges have acquired some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still crucial to confirm that the school and program are accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies in the field of radiology is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). Schools receiving accreditation from the JRCERT have gone through a detailed review of their teachers and course materials. If the school is online it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged 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 aid and student loans, which are many times not accessible for non-accredited programs. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Gardendale AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry level jobs.
Are Internships Offered? Find out if the radiology technician programs you are assessing have associations with regional clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to receive hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a means to fulfill the clinical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may help students and graduates establish professional connections in the Gardendale AL medical community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in Gardendale AL in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the radiographer schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the college they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Gardendale AL home. Students who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the Gardendale AL schools you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the xray tech program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the xray tech college you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Gardendale AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Gardendale X-Ray Tech Training
Selecting the appropriate radiology technician school is an important first step toward starting a rewarding new career furnishing diagnostic medical services to patients. The suitable radiographer should be in good physical condition. Radiology techs often stand for the majority of the day and move and sometimes lift the patient to obtain the proper image. Candidates must also show an ability to pay close attention to detail and to comply with the safety requirements developed to protect both the patient and the medical team. Radiology techs work very closely with patients, other technicians as well as the radiologists and other doctors. Possessing social skills is a must in order to have a good work environment and furnish the best available patient care. As has been addressed 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 similarly true whether you enroll in an online program or travel to classes on-campus. By asking the appropriate questions you can examine and compare each program so you can focus your choices before making your decision. And with the right education and your motivation to be successful, you can accomplish your goal to practice as a radiologic technologist in Gardendale Alabama.