So you have decided to enroll in an X-ray tech school near Vestavia Hills AL in order to train to be a radiologic technologist. But now that you have decided to enter the rewarding field of healthcare, how do you undertake picking the right school and program so that you will get the proper training to become a qualified professional? And since most states do mandate that radiology techs become licensed, based on where you ultimately work you might need training to pass a licensing examination. So it's important that you research each of the X-ray technician schools you are considering so that you can evaluate each program. Most prospective students begin by searching for colleges or technical schools that are within commuting distance of their homes. Next, they check tuition and typically settle on the lowest cost. But while expense and location should be considered, there are other important qualifications as well. For instance, you need to find out if 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 presented later in this post. But first, let's discuss what a radiologic technician does and the credentials and education options that are available.
Radiology Tech Career Description
There are multiple professional designations for x-ray techs (technologists or technicians). They can also be referred to as radiologic technologists, radiologic technicians, radiographers or radiology techs. Irrespective of the name, they all have the identical fundamental job function, which is to use imaging machines to internally visualize patients for the purpose of diagnosis and treatment. Some radiologic technologists may also provide radiation therapy for the treatment of cancer. Many elect to perform as generalists, while there are those that have chosen a specialty, for instance mammography. They can work in Vestavia Hills AL clinics, hospitals, private 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 regularly analyze its functionality 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.
Radiology Tech Degrees
The primary prerequisite for enrolling in a radiology tech college is to have earned a high school diploma or GED. Radiologic technologist students have the option to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree, which is the most prevalent among techs, normally takes 18 months to 2 years to complete based upon the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to 4 years to complete and is more comprehensive in scope. The majority of students select a degree major in Radiography, but there are additional related majors that may be appropriate as well. Something to keep in mind is that radiographer programs have a clinical training or lab component as part of their curriculum. It may often be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which a large number of colleges sponsor through local hospitals and clinics in Vestavia Hills AL or their region. After you have graduated from any of the degree programs, you will need to abide by any licensing or certification mandates in Alabama or the state you will be working as applicable.
Radiologic Technologist Certification and Licensing
Once you have graduated from an Radiologist program, based on the state where you will be working you may have to be licensed. Most states do require licensing, and their criteria vary so check with 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. Several states also require certification as a component of the licensing process, if not it is optional. Having said that, numerous healthcare employers prefer to hire radiology techs that have earned certification so it may increase your career options in and around Vestavia Hills AL to become certified. ARRT's certification program requires graduation from an approved program as well as a passing score on their comprehensive exam. ARRT also demands re-certification every other year, which can be fulfilled with 24 credits of continuing ed, or by passing an examination.
Online X-Ray Technologist Programs
As a part of any degree program, x-ray tech colleges will have practical or lab training included in their course of study. This is no different for online degree colleges. So although you can still obtain your online degree, a substantial portion of the training will be fulfilled either in a school lab or in an internship off-campus. Clinical training is typically conducted in Vestavia Hills AL family practices, medical clinics or hospitals in sponsorship with the colleges. However the online portion of the training can be accessed in the comfort of your residence. Students who continue working while earning their degree typically find that the online style of learning is much more convenient with their busy schedules. Plus online colleges are frequently cheaper than traditional options. Along with reduced tuition, expenses for study materials and commuting may be decreased as well. But just make sure 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 degree may be the best choice for you.
Points to Ask X Ray Tech Programs
When you have chosen the type of degree that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the process of searching for and assessing x-ray tech schools near Vestavia Hills AL. You will also need to determine if you prefer to attend online classes or commute to a nearby campus. If you choose the latter, then of course the location of the college will be critical. The price of tuition and ancillary expenses will be a determining factor as well. But along with location and cost, what more should you look at when comparing colleges? Well, you should ask if the schools are accredited, and if they provide internship or externship programs. To help you find out some of these essential details before you make your selection, we have put together a list of questions that you need to ask the programs you are reviewing.
Are the Radiology Technician Colleges Accredited? The majority of radiology tech schools have earned some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still important to verify that the school and program are accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations 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 rigorous examination of their teachers and educational materials. If the school is online it might also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also help in acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not available for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Vestavia Hills AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the radiology technician colleges you are reviewing have associations with regional hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to receive practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a means to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional connections in the Vestavia Hills AL healthcare community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in Vestavia Hills AL in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the x-ray tech programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good 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 college they select will need to be within driving distance of their Vestavia Hills AL residence. Students who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the Vestavia Hills 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 determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the radiology technician program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the xray tech school you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Vestavia Hills AL area, verify 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 need to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Vestavia Hills X-Ray Tech School
Enrolling in the best x-ray technician degree program is an important first step toward starting a rewarding new career furnishing diagnostic medical services to patients. The ideal radiographer must be in good physical condition. X-Ray techs often stand for the greater part of the day and position and sometimes lift the patient to get the correct image. Candidates must also demonstrate a capability to pay close attention to detail and to follow the safety guidelines developed to protect both the medical team and the patient. Radiology techs work very closely with patients, other techs as well as the doctors and radiologists. Having social skills is a necessity in order to have a pleasant work environment and provide the best possible care to patients. As we have covered in this post, there are a number of questions that you need to ask each college you are considering before making your ultimate decision. This is just as true whether you enroll in an online school or travel to classes on campus. By asking the right questions you can assess and compare each school so you can narrow down your choices before making your final choice. And with the proper education and your commitment to be successful, you can realize your goal to practice as a radiographer in Vestavia Hills Alabama.