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How to Become a Dosimetrist

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Getting the Right Amount of Radiation to Cancer Patients

If you love math and precision is your strong point, a career as a medical dosimetrist might suit you. A medical dosimetrist doses radiation to cancer patients, making sure it goes exactly where it is supposed to go and nowhere else. This satisfying medical job carries a very satisfying salary approaching $100,000, plenty of money to allow a working mom take care of her kids. Maybe that's why over half of all dosimetrists are women.

Job Description

A medical dosimetrist is a health professional who is part of the radiation oncology team. She designs a treatment plan around the appropriate radiation dose, ensuring that the correct amount of radiation reaches the targeted tissues while avoiding healthy tissue. This requires mathematical precision, comprehensive knowledge of physics and technical expertise with radiation equipment.

Education Requirements

If you are thinking of moving into the career of dosimetrist, get yourself to the university. You'll need a bachelor's degree in radiation oncology or in one of the physical sciences. Use internships to get hands-on experience, including observation at a radiation oncology site. Once you are done with school, or if you are already a registered radiation technician with a year's experience, the next step is to complete a one-year dosimetrist training program. You can find one near you by searching online.

After you complete the training program, sit for the certified medical dosimetrist exam. You get certification through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists when you pass it. A requirement for the certification exam is previous observation at a radiation oncology site so don't fail to get this in college.

The median salary for a dosimetrist, according to PayScale, is $99,293. Median means that half of all dosimetrists in the country earn less than this amount, and half earn more. Advanced degrees (a master's or doctorate) do not boost your salary much. In fact, those with a master's degree earn only a few hundred dollars more per year than those with a bachelor's degree, according to Salary.com.

Relevant Industry

Dosimetrists work in the medical profession. Usually they are employed by hospitals, doctors' offices and outpatient centers.

Years of Experience

According to PayScale, the average salary for a dosimetrist is $99,000. Entry level positions pay about 11 percent less than this. Once you have five or so years under your belt, you should get 6 percent more than average. At mid-career (after a decade of experience), you'll make 10 percent more and then about 14 percent more after two decades of work.

Job Growth Trend

Because the likelihood of developing cancer increases as people grow older, the country's aging population is likely to require more dosimetrists in the next decade. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an increase of 12 percent in employment of dosimetrists through 2016. Not surprisingly, the best job opportunities will go to those with more experience and higher education.