Introduction to Types of Radiology Degrees
If you are interested in a radiology degree, it may not surprise you to learn that there are many types of degrees in radiology. The easiest and fastest credential to get is a radiology certificate. They can be earned with a high school diploma or equivalent and the completion of an approved program in radiology. There are even high schools that specialize in health sciences that can offer a certificate in radiology as part of their diplomas.
The most common college degree in radiology is the associate’s degree. This is a two year degrees that is offered by many schools, colleges, and vocational institutes across the country. The most common of the associate’s degrees are the Associate of Science in radiology and Association of Applied Science in radiology. They can also be offered in radiography, radiation therapy, magnetic resonance, and other areas of radiology.
Those interested in a four year degree in radiology should look into the Bachelor of Science in Radiology. It takes twice as long to earn as an associate’s degree (four years) and is usually sought by those who eventually want to earn a master’s or doctorate degree in the field. However, those who work in radiology who want to move up into a supervisory position or other can also study for a bachelor’s level degree in radiology.
If you want to go into the medicinal side of radiology, you should consider pursuing a master’s and eventually a doctoral degree. The master’s degree in radiology takes two years to earn after an appropriate undergraduate degree has been earned and is for those looking for work as a radiologist assistant, in advanced radiologic medicine, or as the director of a department or center. If interested in becoming a radiologist, a doctorate level degree which takes four years and loads of residency work is required.
How Can I Tell if a Radiology Program is High Quality?
Once you know what kind of radiology degree you are interested in, finding an accredited one is a vital step to getting a career in radiology. Accredited schools are those who have met or exceeded standards set by the U.S. Department of Education and are guaranteed to give students the education they pay for.
One of the best known accrediting agencies for those interested in a radiology degree is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology. They have a database where you can search by type of program, alternative learning, by degree level from certificate to master’s, and even by location. You can also learn more about their standards and the accreditation process with a visit.
Another place students can look for accredited radiology degree programs online is the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. They have a special section which links to accrediting resources for radiology students. In addition to entries by the JRCERT, they also have links to other accrediting agencies of interest such as regional agencies across the U.S., one for Canada, and one for Australia.
When looking for accredited degrees, you may run into the issue of regionally versus nationally accredited schools. Regionally accredited schools are those that have been approved in the state or area. Nationally accredited schools are recognized by an accrediting body that has been approved by the Secretary of Education. The Department of Education does not accredit schools, but does publish a list of approved accrediting bodies, national, regional, and local. If planning to work in radiology in a different area from where you study, it is best if you attend a nationally accredited program. If studying where you would like to work a regionally accredited program might do. Because each state has different requirements for those who work in radiology, check with your own state to see if you need a license or certification, along with which accrediting agencies they work with.
What Additional Training Do I Need Besides a Radiology Degree?
Once you have earned a degree in radiology, there still may be other obstacles to getting a career. Most medical jobs require licensure for those providing care, even in the radiologic area. However, there is no national license exam or test for radiologists. Instead, licenses to practice radiology or use radiologic equipment are handed out by the state. There are even states where a license after a radiology degree is not necessary. Check with the state you plan on working in to see what the requirements are for a career as a radiology tech or in another area.
Certification is not a requirement in any state to work in the field after obtaining a radiology degree. However, there are many voluntary certifications that can be earned during or after studies. Certain employers may require that all job candidates have one or more certifications. One of the most common is the ARRT Certification. Applicants must meet requirements in three different areas. The first is educational, where applicants must have completed an accredited program in radiology in the last five years. The second is the ethics part. Every candidate must pass a background check that includes questions about any felony or misdemeanor convictions, as well as other ethical violations that may disqualify them from an ARRT certification. The last part is the passing of a multiple choice exam, which is given at over 200 test facilities nationwide.
How Can I Use My Radiology Degree?
Because qualified radiology technicians are needed in every area of imaging, there are many careers available. The most commonly known is the radiology technician, who aids in the performing of diagnostic imaging tests. These can consist of x-rays, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and even mammography. Below are the details about four possible careers in the field of radiology:
- One of the most common careers with a radiology degree is the cardiovascular tech. They help diagnose problems in the cardiac and peripheral vascular area, or heart and blood vessel disease. Equipment often used in these procedures includes the echocardiography. There are even radiology degrees that specialize in teaching this area of practice. Other testing equipment cardiovascular techs use include the electrocardiogram, or EKG, and the stress test.
- Another popular career in radiology is diagnostic medical sonographer. These techs often work with ultrasound equipment. Unlike x-rays, sonography is imaging created by sound waves and can make up part or all of a radiology degree study. Diagnostic medical sonographers can also be known as ultrasound techs and can do everything from taking an imaging of a baby in the womb to an image of a specific organ, such as the liver.
- The nuclear medicine tech is also another kind of radiologic tech. They work with radionuclides and other sophisticated imaging equipment to take images. These techs also administer radiopharmaceuticals to patients before beginning imaging and then monitor the reaction to those drugs inside the patient. They also operate cameras that are specifically designed to image the radiopharmaceuticals that have been administered.
- Another important area where a radiology degree can be helpful is in the area of radiation therapy. It is most commonly used to treat cancer. Radiation therapists work with linear accelerator machines to help treat cancer patients. These machines project high energy x-rays at cancer cells to shrink and eliminate the cancerous cells known as tumors. In addition to knowing how to administer radiation therapy, these techs must also keep logs on patients including when they had radiation therapy, as well as the dosage.