So you have made the decision to enroll in an X-ray tech school near Tuscaloosa AL so you can learn to be a radiologic technologist. But now that you have chosen to go into the rewarding field of healthcare, how do you go about picking the right school and program so that you will get the proper training to become a skilled practitioner? And considering that the majority of states do require that radiology techs become licensed, based on where you ultimately practice you might need training to pass a licensing test. So it's essential that you investigate each of the X-ray technician schools you are looking at in order to compare each program. Many students begin by searching for colleges or technical schools that are within driving distance of their residences. Next, they check tuition and usually settle on the most affordable cost. But while cost and location need to be considered, there are additional important qualifiers as well. For example, you must find out if the radiology tech schools have earned accreditation, or if they sponsor internships. These questions and others you must 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 credentials and education options that are available.
Radiology Tech Occupation Description
There are several professional designations for x-ray techs (technicians or technologists). They can also be called radiologic technicians or technologists, radiology technicians or radiographers. No matter what the name, they all have the same primary job function, which is to utilize 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 choose to perform as generalists, while others may choose a specialty, for example mammography. They may practice in Tuscaloosa AL hospitals, clinics, family practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. The imaging technologies that an X-Ray technologist 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 take care of their equipment plus regularly analyze its performance and safety. They are additionally 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 Available
The primary requirement for enrolling in a radiology tech program is to have earned a high school diploma or GED. Radiologic technologist pupils 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 2 years to finish depending on the program and course load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to four years to complete and is more expansive in scope. The majority of students opt for a degree major in Radiography, but there are additional similar majors that may be acceptable as well. Something to keep in mind is that radiographer colleges have a clinical training or lab component as part of their course of study. It may typically be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which many colleges sponsor through local clinics and hospitals in Tuscaloosa AL or their region. Once you have graduated from any 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 Licensing and Certification
Once you have graduated from an X-Ray tech college, based on the state where you will be employed you may need to be licensed. Most states do mandate licensing, and their criteria differ so check with your state. Presently, all states that do mandate licensing will recognize The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification exam for the purpose of licensing, but several offer other options for testing also. A number of states also require certification as a component of the licensing process, if not it is optional. However, many healthcare employers would rather hire radiology techs that are certified so it might increase your career options in and around Tuscaloosa AL to earn certification. ARRT's certification program involves graduation from an approved program in addition to a passing score on their rigorous examination. ARRT also requires re-certification every 2 years, which can be fulfilled with 24 credits of continuing education, or by passing an exam.
Online X-Ray Technologist Programs
As a component of every degree program, x-ray tech schools will have clinical or lab training included in their curriculum. This is the same for online degree programs. 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 externship off campus. Practical training is typically provided in Tuscaloosa AL hospitals, outpatient clinics or private practices in sponsorship with the colleges. However the online segment of the training can be attended in the privacy of your residence. Students who continue working while earning their degree often discover that the online approach to learning is far more convenient with their hectic schedules. Plus online colleges are often less costly than conventional options. In addition to reduced tuition, costs for study materials and commuting can be decreased also. But just be sure that the online college you enroll in is accredited (more on the benefits of accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn with this less structured type of training, then an online school may be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask X Ray Tech Colleges
As soon as you have selected the kind of degree that you would like to obtain, you can start the process of finding and evaluating x-ray technician schools near Tuscaloosa AL. You will also need to decide if you want to attend online classes or travel to a local campus. If you choose the latter, then of course the location of the school will be critical. The cost of tuition and ancillary expenses will be a material factor also. But along with location and cost, what else should you consider when comparing colleges? Well, you should find out if the colleges are accredited, and if they provide internship or externship programs. To help you find out some of these important details before you make your decision, we have compiled a list of questions that you must ask the schools you are reviewing.
Are the Radiology Technician Colleges Accredited? A large number of radiology technician colleges have earned some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still important 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). Programs obtaining accreditation from the JRCERT have gone through a detailed examination of their instructors and course materials. If the college is online it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also assist in obtaining financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Tuscaloosa AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the xray tech colleges you are evaluating have relationships with local hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to obtain practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional relationships in the Tuscaloosa AL medical community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in Tuscaloosa AL in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the x-ray tech schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the college they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Tuscaloosa AL home. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the Tuscaloosa AL schools you are researching what the average 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 a chance to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the radiology tech program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the radiographer school you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Tuscaloosa AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Tuscaloosa X-Ray Tech Program
Enrolling in the best radiology tech school is an important first step toward initiating a satisfying new career providing diagnostic medical services to patients. The suitable radiologic technologist should be in good physical condition. X-Ray techs often stand for the majority of the working day and move and sometimes lift the patient to get the correct image. Candidates must also show an ability to pay close attention to detail and to follow the safety guidelines designed to protect both the patient and the medical team. Radiology technicians work very closely with patients, other techs as well as the doctors and radiologists. Possessing interpersonal skills is a necessity in order to have a good work environment and deliver the best possible patient care. As has been covered in this article, there are a number of questions that you should ask each college you are looking at before making your ultimate selection. This is equally true whether you decide on an online program or drive to classes on-campus. By asking the right questions you can analyze and compare each college so you can focus your choices before making your decision. And with the proper education and your commitment to be successful, you can reach your goal to practice as a radiographer in Tuscaloosa Alabama.