How to Become a CT Technologist
Growth Trends for Related Jobs
If you want to help people, and you enjoy working with technology, a career as a CT technologist may be an ideal career choice. Two years of coursework, practical experience and a certification exam are all that’s required to begin working in this career field. Radiology tech programs that include an Associate of Applied Sciences degree are an ideal choice and often offer specializations like computed tomography (CT), nuclear medicine, MRI technologist, mammography or radiation therapy.
Look at the Job Description of a CT Technologist
A CT technologist is an important member of a medical diagnostic team. Using a computer to take images of tissues or organs, a CT technologist helps a doctor learn more about potential injury or disease with noninvasive testing. Strong communication skills, a caring attitude, interpersonal skills and attention to detail is essential for this position. A few of the duties of a CT technologist include:
- Using a caring approach with patients to alleviate worry and concern about the testing procedure
- Being vigilant about patient safety since radiation is involved
- Cleaning and sterilizing equipment
- Operating equipment and performing calibration and maintenance checks
- Preparing and positioning patients for the testing process
- Keeping detailed records about all aspects of the patient experience
Pursue a CT Tech Certificate Program
When looking at radiology tech programs, it’s important to seek one that’s accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiology Technology. You’ll learn the fundamentals of CT work as well as mammography, MRI and other radiology specialties. You’ll finish your program by passing an exam administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. Coursework includes:
- Foundations of Radiology
- Clinical Radiography
- Radiographic Procedures
- Radiation Physics
- Principles of Radiographic Exposure
- Radiation Biology and Protection
- Advanced Modalities
- Medical Documentation
You’ll also spend a semester in a clinical practicum. Practical experience will help you learn how to use equipment, conduct patient intake and position patients. During the 1,700 hours of required clinical practice, you’ll learn to master 80 clinical assessments to meet graduation requirements.
Once you’ve graduated, you may need to become licensed. Specific licensing laws exist in most states, but many will apply the exam scores and credentialing that are associated with the AART. Some states will require the completion of a state-specific certification test prior to issuing a license.
Consider the Workplace Settings
A CT technologist works in a wide variety of medical facilities. Half of all CT technology jobs are located in hospitals, but you’ll also find work in labs, outpatient clinics and physician offices. If you choose to work in a hospital, you may perform a CT test in a lab, the emergency room or an operating room. Clinical settings offer regular shifts during the daytime, but you may have options to work late-night shifts in a hospital setting.
Look at the Radiology Tech Salary
In 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average annual CT tech salary was $61,240, or $29.44 per hour. Outpatient care centers may pay as much as $84,080. If you specialize in specific radiologic technologies like MRI, your earning potential may increase. Once you’re experienced, you may be able to secure preferential work shifts or seek a training or supervisory position.
Jump Into a Growing Job Market
You can expect a 14 percent growth in available jobs for a CT technologist between now and 2026. An aging population in need of increased diagnostic medical care may add to the job opportunities for this career. The growing need for this occupation has led medical facilities to partner with training programs to offer immediate placement for new graduates.
Dr. Kelly Meier has a doctorate in Educational Leadership and has 30+ years of experience in higher education. She is the author and co-author of 15 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education with Kinect Education Group. She is the co-owner of a small business and a regular contributor for The Equity Network. She has numerous publications published by Talico, Inc., DynaTEAM Consulting, Inc. and <a href="http://www.kinecteducationgroup.com">Kinect Education Group</a>.