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As a working mother, you may need a pleasant job and a good salary sooner rather than later. Check out the possibility of a career as an x-ray technician, which is a job you can jump into with only an associate's degree, and the working conditions are good. Even better, the salary is solid. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, x-ray techs earn a median annual wage of $58,960.
An x-ray technician is also called a radiologic technologist. She performs imaging examinations on patients for diagnostic purposes, and the job duties include prepping patients for the x-rays, explaining the procedures, adjusting the machines and placing the patient in optimal positions. The imaging studies are used by doctors to diagnose medical conditions. X-ray techs can specialize in a particular type of imaging study, like CT scans, MRI scans or mammograms.
No firm, fixed rules apply to the type of education you need to get into this career. Every state and every employer require some sort of post-high school coursework. Sometimes a high school diploma and a certificate from a vocational school is sufficient, but more often, entry-level x-ray tech jobs require an associate's degree or a bachelor’s degree.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most common educational background for x-ray techs is an associate's degree. The program usually includes studies in anatomy, physiology, radiation physics, radiation safety and patient care, with both classroom and clinical training. The hospital industry employs most x-ray techs, usually hiring only those who are educated and certified.
In fact, most states also require licensing and/or certification for those working in this career. Licensing requirements often start with graduation from an accredited training program and certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. You can get certified by passing a four-hour exam, but some states instead require a state-administered exam. Ask at your state's health board to find out the requirements.
The median annual salary is $53,013. Median indicates that half of all x-ray techs earn more than this amount, while half earn less. The pay range is usually between $48,560 and $58,712. If you specialize, you can earn more. For example, the median annual wage for x-ray techs specializing in magnetic resonance imaging is $68,420.
Does the level of education you obtain impact your salary? It does to some degree, but less than you might think, according to Salary.com. With an associate's degree, expect a salary range from $50,687 to $53,183. If you get a bachelor's degree, you may make $50,820 to $53,439. Even if you get a master's degree, your wage range may be only a little higher, at $51,219 to $53,864.
Most x-ray technicians work in the healthcare industry for hospitals or medical offices. Some work in education at universities and colleges, while others work in the government or for nonprofit companies.
Years of Experience
According to PayScale, the average x-ray tech earns some $42,000. Entry-level jobs will net you about 3 percent less, while after five years experience, you may get 18 percent more. This figure rises a little (to 19 percent) after a decade or so, and then shoots up after two decades to 39 percent above average.
Job Growth Trend
Overall employment growth for x-ray techs is expected to be strong over the next decade. Jobs for radiologic and MRI technologists will grow about 12 percent during this period, faster than the average for all occupations.
- Career Trend: How to Become an X-Ray Technician
- Career Trend: Reasons to Be an X-ray Technician
- PayScale: X-Ray Technician
- BLS: Radiologic Technologists
- Study.com:How to Become an X-Ray Medical Technician: Step-by-Step Career Guide
- Salary.com: Radiologic Technologist Salary by Education Level
- Salary.com: Salaries
Teo Spengler has worked as a trial lawyer, a teacher and a writer at various times in her life, which is one of the reasons she likes to write about career paths. Spengler has published thousands of articles in the past decade including articles providing tips for starting a job or changing careers. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, and Working Mother websites. She holds a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley, an M.A. in English and an M.F.A. in fiction.