So you have made the decision to enroll in an X-ray tech school near Huntsville AL so you can become a radiology technician. And now that you have decided to go into the rewarding field of healthcare, how do you tackle picking the ideal school and program to ensure that you will get the proper training to become a skilled professional? And considering that most states do require that x-ray techs become licensed, depending on where you subsequently work you might require preparation to pass a licensing examination. So it's imperative that you research each of the X-ray technician schools you are considering so that you can evaluate each program. Many prospective students begin by looking for technical schools or colleges that are within commuting distance of their residences. Next, they compare tuition and frequently gravitate toward the lowest cost. But while cost and location need to be taken into account, there are other critical qualifiers also. For example, you should ask if the radiology tech schools have earned accreditation, or if they sponsor internships. These questions and others you should ask the X-ray Tech schools you are examining are presented later in this post. But first, let's explore what a radiology tech does and the degrees and education options that are available.
X-Ray Tech Job Summary
There are a number of professional designations for x-ray techs (technicians or technologists). They can also be referred to as radiologic technicians or technologists, radiology technicians or radiographers. No matter what the name, they all have the identical fundamental job description, which is to use imaging machines to internally view patients for the purpose of diagnosis and treatment. A number of radiologic technologists may also provide radiation therapy for the treatment of cancer. Many elect to perform as generalists, while others may choose a specialty, for instance mammography. They can work in Huntsville AL hospitals, clinics, family 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 care for their equipment and also routinely assess its performance and safety. They are also required 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.
X-Ray Tech Degrees Offered
The standard prerequisite for attending an x-ray tech college is to have earned 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 technicians, normally takes 18 months to 2 years to complete depending on the program and course load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as much as 4 years to complete and is more comprehensive in scope. The majority of students select a degree major in Radiography, but there are other similar majors that are appropriate as well. Something to keep in mind is that radiographer colleges have a practical training or lab component as a component of their curriculum. It can typically be satisfied by taking part in an internship or externship program which a large number of schools sponsor through local hospitals and clinics in Huntsville AL or their area. Once you have graduated from one of the degree programs, you will need to comply with any certification or licensing requirements in Alabama or the state you will be working as applicable.
Radiologic Technologist Certification and Licensing
When you have graduated from an Radiologist school, depending on the state where you will be practicing you might need to be licensed. Most states do require licensing, and their prerequisites differ so check with your state. At present, all states that do mandate licensure will recognize The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification exam for the purpose of licensing, but many accept other options for testing also. A number of states also call for certification as a component of the licensing procedure, if not it is voluntary. Having said that, many healthcare employers will only hire radiology techs that have earned certification so it may increase your career options in and around Huntsville AL to become certified. 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 other year, which may be met with 24 credits of continuing ed, or by passing an exam.
Online Radiology Technologist Classes
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 schools. So although you can still obtain your degree online, a large amount of the training will be satisfied either in a school lab or in an externship off campus. Practical training is usually performed in Huntsville AL family practices, medical clinics or hospitals in sponsorship with the schools. But the online segment of the training can be attended in the comfort of your residence. Students who continue working while earning their degree typically discover that the online style of education is much more practical with their active schedules. Plus online programs are generally less costly than conventional alternatives. In addition to reduced tuition, expenses for commuting and study materials may be lessened also. But just make sure that the online school you pick is accredited (more on the advantages of accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn with this less structured type of training, then an online degree may be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Radiologic Tech Schools
As soon as you have chosen the type of degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of finding and evaluating x-ray tech colleges near Huntsville AL. You will also have to determine if you want to attend classes online or drive to a local campus. If you opt for the latter, then naturally the location of the school will be critical. The price of tuition and ancillary expenditures will be a determining factor also. But along with cost and location, what else should you look at when comparing colleges? Well, you need to ask if the colleges are accredited, and if they sponsor internship or externship programs. To help you uncover some of these crucial details before you make your selection, we have compiled a list of questions that you should ask the schools you are looking at.
Are the Radiology Tech Programs Accredited? The majority of xray technician schools have acquired some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, 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). Programs receiving accreditation from the JRCERT have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and course materials. If the program is online it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also assist in obtaining financial assistance and student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Huntsville AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited program for entry level jobs.
Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the xray technician schools you are reviewing have associations with local hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to obtain hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a way to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional connections in the Huntsville AL medical community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in Huntsville AL in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the x-ray tech schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the school they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Huntsville AL home. Those who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the Huntsville AL schools you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the xray tech program also.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the xray tech school you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Huntsville AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Huntsville X-Ray Tech Program
Choosing the ideal radiology technician school is an important first step toward initiating a satisfying new career providing diagnostic medical services to patients. The suitable radiographer must be in good physical shape. X-Ray techs often stand for the greater part of the workday and move and at times lift the patient to get the proper image. Candidates must also show a capability to pay strict attention to detail and to observe 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. Having interpersonal skills is a necessity in order to have a productive work environment and provide the best available care to patients. As has been addressed in this article, there are several questions that you need to ask each college you are looking at prior to making your ultimate selection. This is just as true whether you participate in an online program or travel to classes on-campus. By asking the right questions you can examine and compare each program so you can focus your choices before making your final choice. And with the appropriate training and your dedication to succeed, you can realize your goal to practice as a radiologic technologist in Huntsville Alabama.