Radiologist assistants work directly with radiologists to assist in the more advanced duties of the practice. An assistant's responsibilities typically include preparing the patient for the procedure, operating the radiology equipment including X-ray, CAT scan and ultrasound, and making observations on the results of the images. Radiologist assistants cannot diagnose any conditions based on the results and must perform certain advanced procedures under the supervision of a radiologist. The road to becoming a radiologist assistant involves several steps and many years of education or training.
Earn a radiologist assistant degree from a college or university offering an accredited radiologist assistant degree program. As of 2012, a dozen schools across the country offered an accredited radiologist assistant program recognized by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. Radiologist assistant students can choose to pursue a bachelor's or master's degree. Most employers require at least a bachelor's degree.
Obtain a Radiography Certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. Applicants must have completed an accredited radiology program within five years of applying for certification. Applicants must complete the didactic and clinical competency requirements, which involve showing competence in six patient care areas and 66 imaging procedures. In addition, the applicant must also have a clean background record, uphold the ARRT code of ethics and pass the certification exam, which costs $200 per exam.
Acquire the Registered Radiologist Assistant certification. The Radiography Certification is a precursor to the Registered Radiologist Assistant certification, which requires an applicant to complete a radiologist assistant program at an accredited school, complete at least one year of full-time clinical work, pass a background check and take the certification examination, which also costs $200 per exam.
Get a radiologist assistant license. As of 2012, 29 states required radiologist assistants to receive proper licensure before practicing in that state. While the exact methods differ from state to state, the process for obtaining a radiologist assistant license usually involves submitting a license application form, application fee and proper documentation of education and certification by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. Licensees must also undergo a background check in most states. Some states require additional certifications. For example, applicants for a radiologist assistant license in Ohio must also hold certification in advanced cardiac life support.
The Registered Radiologist Assistant certification must be renewed every two years. Most state licenses must also be renewed every few years.