So you have decided to enroll in an X-ray tech school near Robertsdale AL in order to train to be a radiology technician. But now that you have made a decision to enter the satisfying field of healthcare, how do you set about picking the ideal school and program to ensure that you will receive the proper training to become a qualified practitioner? And considering that the majority of states do require that radiology technicians become licensed, depending on where you subsequently work you might require preparation to pass a licensing test. So it's imperative that you investigate each of the X-ray technician schools you are looking at so that you can evaluate each program. Many prospective students start by looking for colleges or technical schools that are within driving distance of their homes. Next, they check tuition and often gravitate toward the most affordable cost. But while expense and location should be considered, there are additional critical qualifications also. For example, you must ask if the radiology tech schools are accredited, or if they offer internship programs. These questions and others you must ask the X-ray Tech schools you are considering are provided later in this article. But first, let's talk about what a radiologic tech does and the credentials and education choices that are available.
X-Ray Technician Career Summary
There are several professional titles for x-ray techs (technicians or technologists). They can also be referred to as radiologic technicians or technologists, radiographers or radiology techs. Irrespective of the name, they all have the same major job function, which is to use imaging machines to internally visualize patients for the objective of diagnosis and treatment. A number of radiologic technologists might also provide radiation therapy for the treatment of cancer. Some choose to practice as generalists, while there are those that have chosen a specialization, for instance mammography. They may practice in Robertsdale AL hospitals, clinics, family practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. The imaging technologies that an X-Ray technician may 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 and routinely analyze its performance and safety. They are also required to retain in-depth records of all of their diagnostic procedures. As health practitioners, they are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct.
Radiology Tech Degrees Available
The basic prerequisite for enrolling in an x-ray tech college is to have attained 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 typical among technicians, generally takes 18 months to 2 years to finish based upon the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as much as four years to finish and is more extensive in scope. The majority of students select a degree major in Radiography, but there are other related majors that may be acceptable also. Something to consider is that radiographer colleges have a practical training or lab component as part of their curriculum. It may often be fulfilled by taking part in an internship or externship program which a large number of colleges offer through local clinics and hospitals in Robertsdale AL or their region. Once you have graduated from one of the degree programs, you must comply with any certification or licensing mandates in Alabama or the state you will be working as applicable.
Radiologic Technologist Certification and Licensing
Once you have graduated from an x-ray technician school, based on the state where you will be practicing you may need to be licensed. Most states do mandate licensing, and their criteria vary so check with your state. Currently, all states that do require licensure will accept The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification examination for the purpose of licensing, but a number provide other alternatives for testing as well. Several states also call for certification as a component of the licensing procedure, otherwise it is voluntary. However, many healthcare employers would rather hire radiology techs that have earned certification so it could improve your career options in and around Robertsdale AL to earn certification. ARRT's certification program involves graduation from an approved program as well as a passing score on their rigorous exam. ARRT also requires re-certification every 2 years, which can be satisfied with 24 credits of continuing ed, or by passing an examination.
Online Radiology Technician Degrees
As a component of every degree program, x-ray tech schools will have clinical or lab training included in their curriculum. This is no different for online degree programs. So although you can still obtain your online degree, a significant portion of the training will be satisfied either in a school lab or in an internship off campus. Clinical training is often performed in Robertsdale AL hospitals, outpatient clinics or private practices in sponsorship with the colleges. But the online segment of the training can be accessed in the privacy of your residence. Students who continue working while obtaining their degree typically find that the online approach to learning is much more convenient with their busy schedules. Plus online colleges are generally less costly than conventional options. In addition to lower tuition, expenditures for commuting and study materials may be reduced also. But just make certain that the online program you choose is accredited (more on the advantages of accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn with this less structured type of training, then online classes may be the best option for you.
Questions to Ask Radiology Tech Programs
Once you have chosen the kind of degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of finding and evaluating x-ray technician colleges near Robertsdale AL. You will also have to decide if you prefer to attend classes online or travel to a local campus. If you opt for the latter, then obviously the location of the college will be important. The cost of tuition and ancillary expenditures will be an important variable also. But in addition to cost and location, what more should you look at when comparing schools? Well, you should check out if the colleges are accredited, and if they sponsor internship or externship programs. To help you uncover some of these crucial details prior to making your selection, we have put together a list of questions that you need to ask the schools you are reviewing.
Are the X-Ray Technician Schools Accredited? A large number of xray tech schools have earned some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still crucial to confirm that the school and program are accredited. Among 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 assessment of their instructors and educational materials. If the program is online it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to guaranteeing a premium education, accreditation will also assist in obtaining financial aid and student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Robertsdale AL health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the xray technician colleges you are assessing have associations with regional clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to receive practical training 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 graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Robertsdale AL healthcare community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in Robertsdale AL in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the x-ray tech schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they decide on will need to be within commuting distance of their Robertsdale AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. 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 might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the Robertsdale AL colleges you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the radiology tech program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the radiographer program you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Robertsdale AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Robertsdale X-Ray Tech Program
Selecting the best x-ray technician degree program is a crucial first step toward starting a rewarding new career providing diagnostic medical services to patients. The ideal radiographer must be in good physical shape. Radiology techs regularly stand for the greater part of the day and position and sometimes lift the patient to get the proper image. Candidates must also show an ability to pay strict attention to detail and to adhere to the safety guidelines developed to protect both the medical team and the patient. X-Ray techs work very closely with patients, other techs as well as the doctors and radiologists. Having interpersonal skills is a must in order to have a pleasant work environment and deliver the best available patient care. As has been discussed in this post, there are several questions that you need to ask each program you are considering prior to making your ultimate selection. This is similarly true whether you opt for an online school or travel to classes on campus. By asking the right questions you can assess and compare each program so you can focus your choices and make your final choice. And with the right education and your commitment to be successful, you can realize your goal to work as a radiology tech in Robertsdale Alabama.