So you have decided to enroll in an X-ray tech school near Helena AL in order to become a radiology technologist. And now that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of healthcare, how do you set about picking the ideal school and program so that you will receive the proper training to become a skilled professional? And because most states do require that radiology techs become licensed, based on where you ultimately work you might require training to pass a licensing examination. So it's essential 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 technical schools or colleges that are within commuting distance of their homes. Next, they check tuition and frequently settle on the most affordable cost. But while expense and location need to be considered, there are other important qualifications also. For example, you need to find out whether or not the radiology tech schools are accredited, or if they offer internships. These questions and others you should ask the X-ray Tech schools you are considering are presented later in this post. But first, let's discuss what a radiology technician does and the credentials and training options that are offered.
Radiology Technician Work Description
There are multiple professional titles for x-ray techs (technologists or technicians). They can also be referred to as radiologic technologists, radiologic technicians, radiology technicians or radiographers. Regardless of the name, they all have the same primary job description, which is to employ imaging machines to internally visualize patients for the objective of diagnosis and treatment. Some radiologic technologists may also provide radiation therapy for the treatment of cancer. Some elect to work as generalists, while there are those that have chosen a specialty, for example mammography. They can practice in Helena AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. The imaging technologies that an X-Ray technician might work with include:
- Traditional and specialized X-Rays
- Computerized tomography (CT) or "CAT" scans
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Sonography or ultrasound
Radiographers must care for their equipment and frequently analyze its functionality and safety. They are additionally expected to retain complete records of all of their diagnostic procedures. As health practitioners, they are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct.
X-Ray Technician Degree Options
The standard requirement for enrolling in an x-ray tech school is to have earned a high school diploma or GED. Radiologic technologist pupils have the opportunity to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree, which is the most prevalent among techs, normally requires 18 months to 2 years to complete based upon the program and course load. A Bachelor's Degree will take more time at as much as four years to finish and is more expansive in nature. Most students select a degree major in Radiography, but there are additional similar majors that are acceptable also. One thing to bear in mind is that radiographer schools have a clinical training or lab component as a component of their course of study. It may often be fulfilled by taking part in an internship program which many colleges sponsor through local clinics and hospitals in Helena AL or their region. After 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.
Radiologic Technologist Certification and Licensing
When you have graduated from an X-Ray tech school, based on the state where you will be working you might have to become licensed. Most states do mandate licensing, and their prerequisites vary so get in touch with your state. Presently, all states that do mandate licensure will recognize The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification exam for the licensing application, but several provide other options for testing also. Several states also call for certification as part of the licensing process, otherwise it is voluntary. However, many healthcare employers prefer to hire radiology techs that are certified so it may enhance your career options in and around Helena AL to become certified. ARRT's certification program requires graduation from an accepted program as well as a passing score on their rigorous examination. ARRT also requires re-certification every two years, which can be fulfilled with 24 credits of continuing ed, or by passing an examination.
Online Radiology Tech Degrees
As a part of any degree program, x-ray tech schools will have clinical or lab training included in their curriculum. This is no different for online degree colleges. So while you can still earn your online degree, a considerable portion of the training will be satisfied either in a school lab or in an externship off-campus. Practical training is usually performed in Helena AL family practices, medical clinics or hospitals in sponsorship with the colleges. However the online portion of the training can be attended in the privacy of your home. Students who keep working while earning their degree often find that the online style of education is far more convenient with their busy schedules. Plus online colleges are generally less expensive than on-campus options. In addition to lower tuition, expenses for commuting and study materials may be decreased also. But just be sure that the online college you choose is accredited (more on the benefits of accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn with this less formalized style of training, then online classes may be the best choice for you.
Questions to Ask Radiographer Programs
As soon as you have selected the type of degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of searching for and evaluating x-ray tech schools near Helena AL. You will also need to decide if you want to attend classes online or drive to a local campus. If you choose the latter, then naturally the location of the college will be relevant. The price of tuition and secondary expenses will be a determining variable as well. But in addition to cost and location, what more should you look at when evaluating colleges? Well, you need to check out if the schools are accredited, and if they provide externship or internship programs. To help you learn some of these important details prior to making your decision, we have put together a list of questions that you should ask the colleges you are looking at.
Are the Radiology Technician Programs Accredited? A large number of xray tech colleges have earned some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still important to make sure that the program and school 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 earning accreditation from the JRCERT have gone through an extensive examination of their teachers and educational materials. If the program is online it might also obtain 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 quality education, accreditation will also assist in acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not offered for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Helena AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited program for entry-level openings.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the radiology technician schools you are evaluating have relationships with regional clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to get hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a way to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they may assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the Helena AL healthcare community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in Helena AL in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the x-ray tech programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the school they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Helena AL home. Those who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. 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 may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the Helena AL colleges you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. 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 several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the xray technician program also.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the xray tech program you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Helena AL area, make sure 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 have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Helena X-Ray Tech School
Picking the appropriate radiology tech school is a crucial first step toward initiating a rewarding new career providing diagnostic medical services to patients. The suitable radiographer must be in good physical condition. X-Ray techs typically stand for the majority of the workday and move and sometimes lift the patient to get the proper image. Prospects must also show a capability to pay close attention to detail and to follow the safety guidelines developed to protect both the patient and the medical team. Radiology technicians 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 deliver the best available patient care. As we have addressed in this report, there are several questions that you need to ask each program you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate decision. This is equally true whether you opt for an online school or drive to classes on-campus. By asking the appropriate questions you can examine and compare each college so you can narrow down your choices and make your decision. And with the appropriate training and your dedication to be successful, you can reach your goal to work as a radiographer in Helena Alabama.