So you have made the decision to enroll in an X-ray tech school near Helena AL so you can train to be a radiologic technologist. And now that you have made a decision to go into the satisfying field of healthcare, exactly how do you set about picking the right school and program to ensure that you will receive the proper training to become a skilled practitioner? And considering that most states do require that x-ray technicians become licensed, based on where you subsequently practice you might need training to pass a licensing exam. So it's imperative that you investigate each of the X-ray technician schools you are looking at so that you can compare each program. A number of prospective students start by looking for colleges or technical schools that are within driving distance of their homes. Next, they compare tuition and often gravitate toward the lowest cost. But while cost and location must be taken into consideration, there are other significant qualifications also. For example, you need to ask whether or not the radiology tech schools have earned accreditation, or if they sponsor internship programs. These questions and others you should ask the X-ray Tech schools you are reviewing are provided later in this article. But first, let's explore what a x-ray technician does and the degrees and training options that are available.
Radiology Tech Career Description
There are a number of professional designations for x-ray techs (technicians or technologists). They can also be referred to as radiologic technologists, radiologic technicians, radiology technicians or radiographers. Irrespective of the name, each has the identical principal job description, which is to use imaging machines to internally view patients for the purpose of diagnosis and treatment. Some radiologic technologists might also administer radiation therapy for treating cancer. Many opt to perform as generalists, while there are those that have chosen a specialization, for instance mammography. They may practice in Helena AL clinics, hospitals, family 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 have to care for their equipment and frequently assess its functionality and safety. They are also expected to keep detailed records of each of their diagnostic procedures. As medical practitioners, they must adhere to a code of conduct and a high professional standard.
X-Ray Tech Degrees Available
The standard prerequisite for attending an x-ray tech program is to have attained a high school diploma or GED. Radiologic technologist pupils have the opportunity to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree, which is the most common among technicians, generally requires 18 months to 2 years to complete depending on the program and course load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to 4 years to finish and is more extensive in nature. Most students select a degree major in Radiography, but there are other related majors that are appropriate as well. One thing to consider is that radiographer programs have a clinical training or lab component as part of their curriculum. It may typically be fulfilled by taking part in an internship program which many colleges offer through local clinics and hospitals in Helena AL or their area. After 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 working as applicable.
Radiographer Certification and Licensing
After you have graduated from an X-Ray tech school, depending on the state where you will be working you might have to be licensed. The majority of states do mandate licensing, and their prerequisites differ so get in touch with your state. Currently, all states that do require licensing will accept The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification examination for the purpose of licensing, but many accept additional alternatives for testing as well. Some 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 are certified so it might increase your career options in and around Helena AL to become certified. ARRT's certification program requires graduation from an approved program as well as a passing score on their comprehensive examination. ARRT also requires re-certification every other year, which can be satisfied with 24 credits of continuing ed, or by passing an examination.
Online X-Ray Tech Classes
As a part of every degree program, x-ray tech colleges will have clinical or lab training included in their course of study. This is the same for online degree programs. So although you can still earn your online degree, a significant portion of the training will be completed either in a college lab or in an externship off campus. Practical training is usually performed in Helena AL hospitals, outpatient clinics or private practices in sponsorship with the schools. But the online section of the training can be attended in the comfort of your home. Students who keep working while earning their degree typically find that the online approach to learning is far more practical with their active schedules. Plus online schools are often less expensive than conventional alternatives. Along with reduced tuition, costs for commuting and study materials may be decreased also. But just confirm that the online program you select is accredited (more on the benefits of accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn with this less formalized style of training, then online classes may be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask X Ray Tech Colleges
As soon as you have chosen the type of degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of searching for and evaluating x-ray technician colleges near Helena AL. You will also have to decide if you prefer to attend online classes or commute to a local campus. If you choose the latter, then naturally the location of the college will be relevant. The cost of tuition and supplementary expenditures will be an important variable as well. But along with cost and location, what else should you consider when reviewing colleges? Well, you need to find out if the colleges are accredited, and if they provide externship or internship programs. To help you find out some of these important details prior to making your decision, we have assembled a list of questions that you need to ask the colleges you are considering.
Are the Radiology Technician Colleges Accredited? A large number of radiology tech colleges have earned some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Nevertheless, it's still imperative to verify that the program and school are accredited. Among the most highly respected 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 undergone a rigorous evaluation of their teachers and educational materials. If the school is online it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to ensuring a premium education, accreditation will also help in obtaining financial aid and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited schools. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Helena AL health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry-level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the xray tech colleges you are assessing have relationships with local clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to obtain practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a way to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a supplemental benefit, they may help students and graduates form professional connections in the Helena AL healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in Helena AL in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the radiographer programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the college they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Helena AL home. Students who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the Helena AL schools you are looking at 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 final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the radiology technician program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the xray tech college you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Helena AL area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Helena X-Ray Tech Program
Enrolling in the appropriate radiology tech school is a crucial first step toward beginning a fulfilling new career providing diagnostic medical services to patients. The suitable radiologic technologist must be in good physical condition. Radiology techs often stand for the greater part of the workday and position and sometimes lift the patient to get the correct image. Prospects must also show a capability to pay strict attention to detail and to observe the safety guidelines designed to protect both the medical team and the patient. Radiology techs work very closely with patients, other technicians as well as the doctors and radiologists. Having interpersonal skills is a necessity in order to have a productive work environment and deliver the best possible patient care. As we have discussed in this article, there are several questions that you should ask each college you are looking at prior to making your ultimate selection. This is equally true whether you enroll in 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 and make your decision. And with the appropriate education and your motivation to be successful, you can realize your goal to practice as a radiologic technologist in Helena Alabama.