So you have made the decision to enroll in an X-ray tech school near Valley AL in order to learn to be a radiologic technician. And now that you have chosen to go into the satisfying field of healthcare, how do you tackle picking the ideal college and program to ensure that you will receive the appropriate training to become a qualified practitioner? And considering that the majority of states do require that x-ray technicians become licensed, depending on where you subsequently work you may require preparation to pass a licensing exam. So it's essential that you assess each of the X-ray technician schools you are looking at so that you can compare each program. Many students start by searching for colleges or technical schools that are within commuting distance of their homes. Next, they compare tuition and often settle on the lowest cost. But while cost and location need to be considered, there are additional critical qualifiers also. For example, you should find out whether or not the radiology tech schools are accredited, or if they offer internship programs. These inquiries and others you should ask the X-ray Tech schools you are evaluating are presented later in this article. But first, let's explore what a radiology tech does and the degrees and training options that are available.
Radiology Technician Career Summary
There are a number of professional designations for x-ray techs (technicians or technologists). They can also be referred to as radiologic technologists, radiologic technicians, radiographers or radiology techs. Regardless of the name, each has the identical fundamental job description, which is to use imaging machines to internally visualize patients for the purpose of diagnosis and treatment. A number of radiologic technologists may also administer radiation therapy for treating cancer. Some opt to perform as generalists, while others may choose a specialty, for instance mammography. They can work in Valley AL hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. The imaging technologies that an X-Ray tech 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 plus routinely evaluate its functionality and safety. They are also expected to retain detailed records of all of their diagnostic procedures. As medical practitioners, they must adhere to a code of conduct and a high professional standard.
Radiology Technician Degrees
The standard requirement for enrolling in an x-ray tech school 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 techs, usually takes 18 months to two years to complete depending on the program and course load. A Bachelor's Degree will take more time at up to four years to complete and is more comprehensive in nature. Most students choose a degree major in Radiography, but there are additional related majors that are appropriate as well. Something to consider is that radiographer programs have a practical training or lab component as a component of their curriculum. It can often be satisfied by taking part in an internship or externship program which many colleges sponsor through local hospitals and clinics in Valley 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 Certification and Licensing
Once you have graduated from an x-ray technician program, depending on the state where you will be employed you may have to become licensed. Most states do require licensing, and their requirements vary so contact your state. At present, all states that do mandate licensure will accept The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification examination for the purpose of licensing, but many offer other alternatives for testing as well. Some states also call for certification as part of the licensing process, otherwise it is voluntary. However, numerous healthcare employers would rather hire radiology techs that are certified so it could enhance your career options in and around Valley AL to earn certification. ARRT's certification program requires graduation from an accepted program as well as a passing score on their rigorous exam. ARRT also demands re-certification every 2 years, which can be met with 24 credits of continuing ed, or by passing an examination.
Online X-Ray Tech Colleges
As a part of any degree program, x-ray tech schools will have practical or lab training included in their course of study. This is the same for online degree programs. So although you can still earn your degree online, a considerable portion of the training will be satisfied either in a school lab or in an externship off-campus. Practical training is typically provided in Valley AL family practices, medical clinics or hospitals in sponsorship with the colleges. But the online section of the training may be attended in the comfort of your home. Students who keep working while obtaining their degree usually discover that the online style of learning is much more practical with their active schedules. Plus online programs are often less expensive than on-campus options. In addition to reduced tuition, costs for study materials and commuting may be reduced as well. But just make sure that the online program you enroll in is accredited (more on the advantages of accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn with this less structured style of training, then an online school may be the best choice for you.
Topics to Ask Radiologic Tech Schools
When you have selected the type of degree that you want to obtain, you can start the process of finding and assessing x-ray technician colleges near Valley AL. You will also need to decide if you want to attend online classes or commute to a nearby campus. If you choose the latter, then of course the location of the school will be relevant. The cost of tuition and ancillary expenses will be an important variable also. But along with location and cost, what else should you factor in when evaluating colleges? Well, you need to check out if the schools are accredited, and if they sponsor internship or externship programs. To help you find out some of these crucial details before you make your decision, we have compiled a list of questions that you should ask the colleges you are reviewing.
Are the X-Ray Tech Colleges Accredited? The majority of xray technician colleges have received some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still imperative to verify that the school and program are accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting organizations in the field of radiology is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). Schools receiving accreditation from the JRCERT have undergone an extensive review of their teachers and course materials. If the college is online it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. 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 frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Valley AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry level jobs.
Are Internships Provided? Ask if the xray tech schools you are interested in have relationships with regional hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific way to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Valley AL health care community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in Valley AL in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the radiographer schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the school they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Valley AL home. Students who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently 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 back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the Valley AL schools you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the radiology technician program as well.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the xray tech college you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Valley AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Valley X-Ray Tech Training
Picking the right radiology technician school is an important first step toward launching a gratifying new career providing diagnostic medical services to patients. The ideal radiologic technologist should be in good physical condition. X-Ray techs often stand for the majority of the workday and move and sometimes lift the patient to get the proper image. Prospects must also show an ability to pay close attention to detail and to observe the safety guidelines developed to protect both the patient and the medical team. X-Ray techs work very closely with patients, other techs as well as the radiologists and other doctors. Possessing social skills is a must in order to have a productive work environment and provide the best available patient care. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of questions that you should ask each college you are reviewing prior to making your final decision. This is just as true whether you enroll in an online program or commute to classes on-campus. By asking the appropriate questions you can evaluate and compare each school so you can focus your choices before making your final choice. And with the appropriate training and your commitment to be successful, you can reach your goal to practice as a radiographer in Valley Alabama.