Nuclear medicine technologists operate equipment that creates images of areas of a patient’s body. They prepare radioactive drugs and administer them to patients. The radioactive drugs cause abnormal areas of the body to appear different from normal areas in the images.
Most nuclear medicine technologists work in hospitals. Some work in physicians’ offices, diagnostic laboratories, or imaging clinics. Most nuclear medicine technologists work full time.
How to Become a Nuclear Medicine Technologist
Nuclear medicine technologists typically need an associate’s degree from an accredited nuclear medicine technology program. Formal education programs in nuclear medicine technology or a related healthcare field lead to a certificate, an associate’s degree, or a bachelor’s degree. Technologists must be licensed in about one half of the states; requirements vary by state.
Employment of nuclear medicine technologists is projected to grow 2 percent from 2014 to 2024, slower than the average for all occupations. An aging population may lead to the need for nuclear medicine technologists who can provide imaging to patients with certain medical conditions, such as heart disease. However, employment growth may be tempered as many medical facilities and third-party payers encourage the use of less costly, noninvasive imaging technologies, such as ultrasound.
This occupation supported 20,900 jobs in 2012 and 20,700 jobs in 2014, reflecting a decline of 1.0%. In 2012, this occupation was projected to increase by 20.1% in 2022 to 25,100 jobs. As of 2014, to keep pace with prediction, the expected number of jobs was 21,700, compared with an observed value of 20,700, 4.6% lower than expected. This indicates current employment trends are worse than the 2012 trend within this occupation. In 2014, this occupation was projected to increase by 1.4% in 2024 to 21,000 jobs. Linear extrapolation of the 2012 projection for 2022 results in an expected number of 25,900 jobs for 2024, 23.3% higher than the 2014 projection for 2024. This indicates expectations for future employment trends are much worse than the 2012 trend within this occupation.