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What Is a Medical Diagnostic Technician?

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A medical diagnostic technician, also called a diagnostic imaging technician or a radiologic technologist, uses various types of imaging equipment to provide physicians with data and images they need to diagnose and treat their patients. Medical diagnostic technicians typically find jobs in doctor's offices, hospitals, urgent-care facilities and diagnostic labs. Opportunities exist with private and government employers.

Primary Duties

A medical diagnostic technician may operate X-ray, computed tomography (CT scan), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and sonography equipment to assist doctors with diagnosing and treating patients. Common tests include those that provide images of the chest, bones, heart, brain and circulatory system. Some jobs involve using ultrasound equipment for the evaluation of pregnancies or low-dose X-ray equipment to perform mammographies. This job may also require you to assist doctors in performing procedures that require the use of imaging equipment. In addition, you have responsibility for maintaining and calibrating equipment and sometimes training others in its use.

Patient Care

Besides checking, maintaining and operating diagnostic imaging equipment, you will also work with patients, helping them get ready for the required tests. This can include explaining the tests, asking and answering questions required before diagnostic imaging, and getting patients into the correct position before the procedure. Likewise, your job involves following safety procedures such as ensuring the proper use of lead aprons to protect other parts of the body during X-rays.

Data Collection and Analysis

This job requires you to keep accurate records, as physicians need them to diagnose and treat patients. You need to record test data and input it into a data management system. Likewise, this job may require you to file X-ray films and other test records based on company policies. Your job might also involve providing basic data analysis and producing reports based on the tests results.


You typically need to complete diagnostic imaging training to become a medical diagnostic technician. You can find preparatory certificate programs, which often last 12 months or less, and associate degree programs, which last an average of two years. Programs might focus on a particular area, such as sonography, radiological technology or nuclear medicine technology, or they can provide training in several technologies under the heading of diagnostic imaging or medical diagnostic imaging training.

Licensing and Certification

Some employers may give preference to candidates who've earned certification through an organization like The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. To gain certification, you must complete an approved, accredited training program and pass a certification exam. In addition, some states require medical diagnostic technicians to gain licensing. Though requirements vary from state to state, you will typically have to complete an accredited training program and pass an exam offered by your state or The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.


Jordan Meyers has been a writer for 13 years, specializing in businesses, educational and health topics. Meyers holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Maryland and once survived writing 500 health product descriptions in just 24 hours.

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