X-ray machines have been used to view internal body structures since the late nineteenth century and the dangers of radiation exposure have been known for almost as long. California maintains standards for the licensing of x-ray technicians to ensure the accuracy and safety of x-ray examinations. Being aware of these requirements can help a student to better plan his educational and career path.
X-ray technicians must graduate from a post secondary training institution approved by the state of California to be eligible for certification. The curriculum is required to include at least 50 hours of training in radiological safety and protection methods. A student must study 20 additional hours of technology for each specialty in which he seeks certification. Certification is available for dental radiography; the heart and lungs; the upper and lower extremities; the stomach, intestines and esophagus; the kidneys, urethra, bladder, and internal and external genitalia; knees, ankles, feet, tibia, and fibula; the tissues and bone of the skull and neck; and the ribcage, sternum, vertebrae, and pelvis. A separate certification is also available for x-ray technicians who operate bone densitometers for use in determining heel, wrist, or finger bone density. X-ray technicians, except those certified in dental radiography or bone densitometry, need an additional certification to operate digital x-ray equipment.
Upon completion of a program of study, the student must pass an examination given by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) to be registered as a certified x-ray technician. The test consists of a section on safety and patient care, that is pertinent to all applicants. Then, modules of 20 to 25 questions for the specific specialty of the test taker. The exams for the chest, extremities, skull, and torso-skeletal system can be combined for a single fee by notifying the ARRT in advance. Examinations can be attempted a maximum of three times before the applicant will be referred for additional study.
Once an x-ray technician has become certified, he needs to remain current with his x-ray skills to keep his license. The ARRT and the state of California call for x-ray technicians to complete 24 hours of study every two years in the subjects of x-ray technology or safety. Classes are available through home study, online or at a traditional radiology school. A technician is required to submit proof of completion of these continuing education units in a timely fashion or his license will be suspended or revoked.