Is a Radiology Degree Right for You?

Radiology uses imaging technologies to diagnose and treat disease. This can include interpreting images from inside a patient’s body through X-ray radiography, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Imaging technologies may also be used in interventional radiology, where the procedure is guided by CT, MRI, or other devices. Radiologic technicians and technologists are typically the ones controlling the imaging machines. These positions typically require an associate degree, though advancement may require a bachelor’s degree.

Advice for Earning Your Radiology Degree Online

When trying to decide which online radiology bachelor’s degree program you want to enroll in, you need to make sure the program is a good fit for you. Some online programs have short, fast-paced courses, while others have longer courses at a more relaxed pace. You should also consider the features of the program, such as the type of media (text-based forums, audio lectures, video lectures, live chat, etc.), types of and deadlines for assignments, downloadable textbooks or hard copies, and student-teacher ratio. You also want to check the accreditation status of the program. Accreditation will guarantee that the education you receive through the program is of high quality and will prepare you to transition into the workplace after graduation. The Joint Review Committee on Education Programs in Radiologic Technology is a nationally recognized accrediting organization for traditional and online bachelor’s degree programs in radiology. They provide a search engine that allows you to find accredited programs.

Required Courses

Many bachelor’s degree programs in radiology are intended to build on knowledge gained through associate degree programs in radiologic technology, which can be used to advance your career or prepare you for medical school. Some of the courses you may find include Medical Imaging Theory, Physics of Computed Tomography, Human Cross Sectional Anatomy, and Medical Language Systems. Some bachelor’s degree programs are designed to lead to an administrative or management position and incorporate courses to prepare you for this. These courses can include Leadership Communication, Communication Strategies for Conflict Management, Ethics in Health Care, Legal Aspects of Health Care Administration, and Human Resources Management.

Common Career Paths

Earning a bachelor’s degree online in radiology can lead to a number of careers. These include radiologic therapist/technologist, manager of radiology, or a radiologist. The educational and professional foundation for these three careers centers on radiology, but the focus of the education, and the roles, responsibilities, salaries, and job outlook differ for each career.

  • Radiation Therapist/Radiologic Technologist

    Radiation therapists and radiologic technologists operate equipment used for imaging and treatment. A therapist will perform procedures on patients to treat cancer and other diseases, whereas technologists will perform diagnostic imaging examinations. Both occupations require licensure or certification in most states, though specific requirements vary by state. As far as education is concerned, most state require you to hold an accredited associate or bachelor’s degree in radiology, radiologic technology, or radiologic science.

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), radiation therapists are expected to see an increase in employment of 20% from 2010 to 2020 and earn an average salary of $79,340 a year. Radiologic technologists have a job outlook showing a 28% increase in employment and an average income of $56,760 a year. However, job availability and income depend on your amount of experience, position, employer, location, and more.

  • Manager of Radiology

    Many choose to earn an online bachelor’s degree in radiology and begin a career as a manager of radiology. These managers work to improve the quality and efficiency of the care being provided by the staff. This can entail hiring and maintaining capable and qualified employees, overseeing day-to-day activities, creating work schedules, resolving conflicts, and ensuring that the procedures are being carried out correctly and safely. Work experience as a radiation therapist or radiologic technologist in addition to your degree can be beneficial when seeking a management position.

    The BLS is expecting medical and health services managers to see an employment increase of 22% from 2010 to 2020. The BLS also shows that these managers earn an average income of $96,030 a year. These statistics are for medical and health service managers in general, and may vary for managers of radiology. Factors such as amount of experience, location, and facility will also affect job availability and salary.

  • Radiologist

    Radiologists are physicians that interpret images captured through various imaging equipment, use those images to diagnose disease, and deliver radiation treatments for cancer and other illnesses. Like every other type of physician, radiologists are required to hold a doctoral degree from an accredited medical school. Among other admissions requirements, to be accepted into a medical graduate degree program, you will be required to hold an accredited bachelor’s degree. Earning an accredited online bachelor’s degree in radiology can be used toward medical school and a doctoral degree.

    The BLS shows that physicians should see a 24% growth in employment, but, due to the increased risk of cancer in the baby boomers generation, radiologists may see a higher percentage of growth. The average annual wage for a physician is $184,650. This may also be different for radiologists in particular. Job availability and what you earn will depend on other factors as well, such as location, the amount of experience you have, the type of facility, and your employer.

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