The median salary for radiologic technologists in the U.S. was $54,620 in 2012.
The median salary for radiologic technologists in the U.S. was $54,620 in 2012.

X-ray technicians, known professionally as radiologic technologists, must graduate from an accredited program and pass examinations from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. Certificate programs are mostly reserved for health care professionals and take one to two years to complete; associate degrees can be completed in two years; and bachelor's degrees take four years to complete. Programs include hands-on clinical training in patient management, imaging positioning and the safe operation of equipment. Radiologic technologists become certified in magnetic resonance imaging after completing an MRI certificate program and passing ARRT exams.

Imaging Nuts and Bolts

You will take several courses in the science behind x-ray technology and how to use it safely and efficiently. Course topics include physics, radiation protection for the radiographer and patient, body manipulation, the operation of the machine, good imaging techniques, medical terminology and patient care. In more advanced courses, you learn complex position techniques for capturing images of the skeleton and soft tissue.

Anatomy and Physiology

X-ray technologists must have a strong grasp of the body's units and systems. Students learn the anatomical terms and functions of the body's units, including the 11 systems of the human body: cardiovascular, digestive, endocrine, lymphatic, muscular, nervous, organ, reproductive, respiratory, skeletal and urinary. You will investigate the components of cells, bones, joint and muscles, including how these units work independently and collaboratively. You will learn every bone of the spine, thorax and extremities.

Pathology Understanding and Imagery

Pathology, the study of diseases, is an important part of x-ray training and careers. Radiographic technologists often capture images of diseases inside of patients, including acute, chronic and congenital pathology. You will learn about the classification, diagnosis and treatment of diseases, such as cancer and heart conditions, and how pathology affects medical imaging procedures.

MRI Training and Certification

To work with magnetic resonance imaging equipment, you need to be certified through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. Accredited programs are available through the American Society of Radiologic Technologists and select colleges and universities. They can be completed in under a year. Programs teach coursework in MRI technology, including the radiofrequency system and gradients; image production parameters; proper screening and preparation techniques; image quality, including how tissue characteristics affect quality; bodily positioning; joint imaging; and imaging safety.