So you have decided to enroll in an X-ray tech school near Huntsville AL in order to learn to be a radiologic technologist. But now that you have chosen to enter the rewarding field of healthcare, just how do you tackle choosing the right school and program so that you will receive the appropriate training to become a skilled practitioner? And because most states do require that radiology technicians become licensed, depending on where you ultimately work you may require training to pass a licensing exam. So it's essential that you assess each of the X-ray technician schools you are considering in order to evaluate each program. A number of students begin by looking for technical schools or colleges that are within commuting distance of their residences. Next, they check tuition and often settle on the lowest cost. But while location and cost need to be taken into account, there are other critical qualifiers also. For example, you should find out if the radiology tech schools have earned accreditation, or if they sponsor internships. These inquiries and others you should ask the X-ray Tech schools you are considering are provided later in this article. But first, let's talk about what a radiology tech does and the credentials and training options that are available.
X-Ray Technician Job Description
There are a number of professional designations for x-ray techs (technicians or technologists). They may also be referred to as radiologic technologists, radiologic technicians, radiology technicians or radiographers. No matter what the name, they all have the identical primary job function, which is to utilize imaging machines to internally visualize patients for the purpose of diagnosis and treatment. Some radiologic technologists might also administer radiation therapy for treating cancer. Many choose to work as generalists, while there are those that have chosen a specialization, such as mammography. They can work in Huntsville AL hospitals, clinics, family practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. The imaging technologies that an X-Ray tech might utilize 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 also routinely analyze its performance and safety. They are also expected to retain complete records of each of their diagnostic procedures. As medical practitioners, they must adhere to a code of conduct and a high professional standard.
Radiology Technician Degrees Offered
The basic requirement for attending a radiology tech program 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 technicians, usually takes 18 months to two years to complete depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to four years to finish and is more comprehensive in nature. Most students opt for a degree major in Radiography, but there are other similar majors that are appropriate as well. One thing to keep in mind is that radiographer colleges have a practical training or lab component as part 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 Huntsville AL or their region. Once you have graduated from one of the degree programs, you must abide by any certification or licensing requirements 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 tech school, based on the state where you will be employed you may have to become licensed. Most states do require licensing, and their requirements differ so contact your state. Presently, all states that do require licensure will accept The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification examination for the licensing application, but several provide additional alternatives for testing also. A number of states also call for certification as a component of the licensing process, if not it is optional. Having said that, numerous healthcare employers will only hire radiology techs that are certified so it could improve your career options in and around Huntsville AL to earn certification. ARRT's certification program requires graduation from an accepted program as well as a passing score on their comprehensive exam. ARRT also demands re-certification every two years, which may be satisfied with 24 credits of continuing ed, or by passing an examination.
Online X-Ray Tech Colleges
As a component of any degree program, x-ray tech colleges will have clinical or lab training included in their curriculum. This is the same for online degree programs. So while you can still obtain your online degree, a substantial portion of the training will be completed either in a college lab or in an internship off campus. Practical training is usually provided in Huntsville AL hospitals, outpatient clinics or private practices in sponsorship with the schools. But the online section of the training may be attended in the privacy of your home. Students who keep working while earning their degree usually find that the online approach to learning is far more convenient with their busy schedules. Plus online colleges are frequently less expensive than traditional alternatives. Along with lower tuition, expenses for study materials and commuting may be lessened as well. But just confirm that the online college you choose 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 an online degree may be the best choice for you.
What to Ask Radiologic Tech Colleges
When you have selected the type of degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of locating and evaluating x-ray tech colleges near Huntsville AL. You will also have to decide if you want to attend online classes or travel to a nearby campus. If you choose the latter, then naturally the location of the college will be critical. The cost of tuition and ancillary expenditures will be a determining variable also. But along with location and cost, what else should you factor in when reviewing schools? Well, you should find out if the schools are accredited, and if they provide externship or internship programs. To help you find out some of these essential details prior to making your decision, we have put together a list of questions that you need to ask the programs you are looking at.
Are the X-Ray Technician Colleges Accredited? Most xray tech colleges have received some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still crucial to make sure that the program and school are accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations in the field of radiology is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). Schools obtaining accreditation from the JRCERT have gone through a detailed evaluation of their teachers and educational materials. If the college is online it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a premium education, accreditation will also help in securing financial aid and student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited schools. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Huntsville AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry level openings.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the xray tech programs you are interested in have associations with local clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to obtain practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a means to fulfill the clinical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Huntsville AL healthcare community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in Huntsville AL in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the radiographer programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the school they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Huntsville AL home. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the Huntsville AL colleges you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. 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 speak with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the radiology technician program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the xray tech school you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Huntsville AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Huntsville X-Ray Tech Training
Selecting the best x-ray tech school is a crucial first step toward launching a satisfying new career providing diagnostic medical services to patients. The ideal radiologic technologist should be in good physical condition. X-Ray techs typically stand for the greater part of the workday and position and sometimes lift the patient to obtain the proper image. Candidates must also demonstrate an ability to pay close attention to detail and to follow the safety requirements designed to protect both the patient and the medical team. Radiology techs work very closely with patients, other techs as well as the doctors and radiologists. Possessing social skills is a must in order to have a good work environment and furnish the best possible patient care. As has been covered in this report, there are a number of questions that you need to ask each program you are considering prior to making your ultimate selection. This is just as true whether you participate in an online school or drive to classes on campus. By asking the right questions you can assess and compare each program so you can narrow down your options before making your final choice. And with the appropriate training and your dedication to succeed, you can achieve your goal to work as a radiographer in Huntsville Alabama.