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What are the first steps to becoming a Radiologist in California?

Hi! I'm trying to fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming an X-ray tech, but I don't know where to start. Where can I find a school that has the program? What should I focus on in school? What is the fastest/best route to becoming one?

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Katie’s Answer

Hi Pearl,

I began my career as an X-ray technologist in Long Beach too! Long Beach City College has a great X-ray tech program (2 years), and I would start there. It would be wise to seek out a counselor there, so they can point you in the right direction on which courses you can begin with. I expect that this program has a wait list, as many healthcare programs do throughout the country. I had to wait 2 years to get into that program, and that was way back in the early 1980’s! A radiologist is a different career—they are actually a medical doctor specializing in reading X-rays. An X-ray tech or a Radiologic Technologist, is someone who takes X-rays for the radiologist to read. There are many avenues for an X-ray tech to take, they can learn CT, MRI, Ultrasound, Nuclear Medicine, but further training in these specialties would be required. Hope this helps!
Thank you comment icon Thank you for giving me advice. Pearl
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Nicole’s Answer

A career in radiology is an excellent choice - jobs in medicine will always be in demand and you will find that radiology is a field constantly in need of both radiologists and technologists. Your question references both radiologist and technologist but I will focus on answering how one begins a career as a radiologic (x-ray) technologist.

A great resource to start with is www.arrt.org as they are the accrediting body for x-ray techs (as well as all other imaging modalities). Most states will require you to be ARRT-certified when looking for a job. For those states that do not require certification, many facilities (especially hospitals) will still want to see that certification so it is very important when choosing a school that they meet requirements to sit for the ARRT exam at the end of your schooling. ARRT provides a list here:https://www.arrt.org/pages/about-the-profession/learn-about-the-profession/recognized-educational-programs.

There is no one quick or faster route to getting into an x-ray program. Every x-ray program will be 2 years once you've begun the program and every program will have a set of pre-reqs to meet before you are accepted. Many or most x-ray programs have wait lists to get into them so it may be a few years before you are selected into a program. Each school will have its own requirements on who gets through to the program but much is predicated on grades made prior to getting into the program. If you have not already met educational requirements for the x-ray program you select, do your best to get the highest grades possible in those classes and that will make you a better candidate. You may also want to volunteer at the hospital or work in some area that touches on patient care for the same purpose of making you a more desirable applicant.



Nicole recommends the following next steps:

Collect school catalogs from all 2- and 4- year universities in your area that offer an ARRT-accredited radiologic technologist program and select the best one for you
Carefully read and complete all pre-requirements for acceptance into the program.
If meeting academic requirements for application, maintain highest grades possible to help get you into the program right away and not put on a wait list.
optional: Contact the manager or supervisor of a local hospital's x-ray department and ask if you can shadow a tech for part of a day to really get an idea of what their day is like and get a chance to ask questions and maybe suggestions and input regarding local programs.
As you work out funding for your education, plan on having money saved for the possibility of not being able to work much or at all while in school, depending on how intense your program is and how much time you will need to dedicate outside of class. Remember this is a temporary financial constraint - you are working towards making a good paycheck!
Thank you comment icon Thank you, this is really helpful. Pearl
Thank you comment icon Great advice, Nicole! Thanks for sharing your perspective with our Student community! yoonji KIM, Admin
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Rita’s Answer

First of all, there is a difference between a radiology technician and a radiologist. A technician takes the pictures (Xray, CT, MRI, ultrasound etc). A radiologist goes to medical school and then residency. S/he does not take pictures but reads the reports.
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BO’s Answer

Hello. I am an radiology technologist for 8 years. You will be amaze how many things you have not seen in your life that you are able to see through xray images. I live in los angeles and my advice if you really want to see the behind the scene work load and what we do is to apply for volunteer as transporter or radiology tech assistant so you are able to see and find out if job is for you. When you decide that you want to do it. There are community college out there that has rad tech program and its really cheap compare to going to private school. You need to focus on medical terminology, anatomy physics math and public speaking for your covidence. Rad tech job is not for everybody but it pays well and if your lucky and end up enjoying your job, then you will never feel like your working.
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