So you have decided to enroll in an X-ray tech school near Sheffield AL so you can become a radiology technician. And now that you have chosen to enter the rewarding field of healthcare, just how do you tackle selecting the right college and program to ensure that you will get the proper training to become a qualified professional? And since most states do require that radiology techs become licensed, based on where you subsequently work you might need training to pass a licensing examination. So it's essential that you assess each of the X-ray technician schools you are considering in order to compare each program. Many students start by searching for technical schools or colleges that are within driving distance of their homes. Next, they compare tuition and usually gravitate toward the most affordable cost. But while location and cost should be considered, there are additional important qualifiers as well. For instance, you should find out whether or not the radiology tech schools are accredited, or if they sponsor internship programs. These inquiries and others you must ask the X-ray Tech schools you are reviewing are provided later in this article. But first, let's talk about what a radiology tech does and the degrees and education options that are offered.
Radiology Tech Job Summary
There are several professional titles for x-ray techs (technicians or technologists). They can also be called radiologic technologists, radiologic technicians, radiographers or radiology techs. Regardless of the name, they all have the same principal job description, which is to utilize imaging machines to internally view patients for the objective of diagnosis and treatment. A number of radiologic technologists may also administer radiation therapy for the treatment of cancer. Many opt to practice as generalists, while there are those that have chosen a specialization, such as mammography. They may work in Sheffield AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. The imaging technologies that an X-Ray tech may 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 plus routinely analyze its functionality and safety. They are also expected to retain in-depth records of each of their diagnostic procedures. As medical practitioners, they are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct.
X-Ray Technician Degrees
The standard requirement for enrolling in a radiology tech school is to have received a high school diploma or equivalent. Radiologic technologist students have the choice to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree, which is the most common among technicians, generally takes 18 months to two years to finish depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to 4 years to finish and is more extensive in nature. The majority of students choose a degree major in Radiography, but there are additional related majors that may be acceptable as well. One thing to keep in mind is that radiographer programs have a practical training or lab component as part of their curriculum. It can often be fulfilled by taking part in an internship program which a large number of schools sponsor through local clinics and hospitals in Sheffield AL or their area. 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 practicing in as applicable.
Radiologic Technologist Certification and Licensing
When you have graduated from an Radiologist college, depending on the state where you will be working you may have to become licensed. The majority of states do require licensing, and their requirements differ so contact your state. Currently, all states that do mandate licensing will accept The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification exam for the purpose of licensing, but many approve other alternatives for testing as well. A number of states also require certification as part of the licensing process, if not it is optional. However, many healthcare employers prefer to hire radiology techs that have earned certification so it could increase your career options in and around Sheffield AL to earn certification. ARRT's certification program calls for graduation from an accepted program in addition to a passing score on their rigorous examination. ARRT also calls for re-certification every 2 years, which may be fulfilled with 24 credits of continuing ed, or by passing an examination.
Online Radiology Tech Schools
As a component of every 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 online degree, a significant portion of the training will be completed either in a school lab or in an internship off campus. Clinical training is often carried out in Sheffield AL family practices, medical clinics or hospitals in sponsorship with the schools. But the online section of the training may be attended in the comfort of your home. Students who keep working while earning their degree often find that the online style of education is much more practical with their active schedules. Plus online colleges are generally less costly than conventional options. In addition to reduced tuition, costs for commuting and study materials may be lessened also. But just confirm that the online college you choose is accredited (more on the advantages of accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn with this less formalized type of training, then an online school may be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Radiology Tech Programs
As soon as you have selected the type of degree that you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of locating and assessing x-ray tech schools near Sheffield AL. You will also have to decide if you want to attend classes online or travel to a local campus. If you opt for the latter, then of course the location of the school will be critical. The cost of tuition and ancillary expenses will be a material variable also. But along with location and cost, what more should you look at when comparing colleges? Well, you should find out if the schools are accredited, and if they sponsor externship or internship programs. To help you learn some of these important details prior to making your selection, we have put together a list of questions that you should ask the schools you are considering.
Are the Radiology Tech Schools Accredited? Most radiology tech colleges have received some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, it's still imperative to verify 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 undergone a rigorous assessment of their instructors and educational materials. If the school is online it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides guaranteeing a superior education, accreditation will also help in obtaining financial aid and student loans, which are many times not offered for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Sheffield AL health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the xray tech colleges you are assessing have associations with area hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to obtain practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a means to satisfy the clinical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Sheffield AL medical community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in Sheffield AL in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the radiographer schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the school they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Sheffield AL home. Students who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the Sheffield AL colleges you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. 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 converse with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the xray tech program also.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the xray tech school you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Sheffield AL area, make sure 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 carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Sheffield X-Ray Tech Training
Choosing the appropriate radiology technician degree program is an important first step toward starting a rewarding new career furnishing diagnostic medical services to patients. The suitable radiographer should be in good physical condition. Radiology techs regularly stand for the majority of the working day and move and at times lift the patient to get the correct image. Candidates must also show an ability to pay strict attention to detail and to comply with the safety guidelines developed to protect both the patient and the medical team. 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 good work environment and furnish the best possible patient care. As has been discussed in this article, there are several questions that you need to ask each school you are considering prior to making your final decision. This is similarly true whether you decide on an online program or drive to classes on campus. By asking the right questions you can examine and compare each college so you can focus your choices and make your final choice. And with the right training and your motivation to be successful, you can reach your goal to practice as a X-ray tech in Sheffield Alabama.