How to Become an X-Ray Technician

X-Ray Technician Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $50,020
Avg. Pay / hour $24.05
Education 4+ Years
Job Outlook 9%

If you’re interested in health, are good with technology, and want to work with people then you might like to become an X-Ray technician.

These medical professionals administer diagnostic imaging procedures, which could include x-rays, CT scans, mammograms, and MRI scans.

Most X-Ray technicians work within hospitals, a minority will work in private physician’s offices.

Job prospects in this field are good since strong growth is expected for many careers in medicine.

Excellent job security is on offer to qualified candidates.

In most states you will need to be licensed to work as a x-ray technician.

This requires some education, as well as a set examination.

Education Requirements to Become an X-Ray Technician

If you’re in high school and would like to become an x-ray technician, subjects in maths, chemistry, and physics all make good choices.

There are a few different educational pathways you can take after graduation.

To become an x-ray technician you can either complete a certificate, an associate’s degree, or a bachelors degree in radiography.

The certificate takes eighteen months to complete, and the associates degree takes two years.

The bachelors degree take four years to complete.

The higher the level of education you complete, the more job opportunities you will have, and the greater salary you will earn.

In all of these programs both classroom and practical learning forms a part of the course.

Anatomy, pharmacology, medical terminology, and ethics are learned by students.

Federal law requires that x-ray technicians be licensed.

However, licensure requirements vary between states.

The requirements are based around safety when using radiologic technology.

X-Ray Technician Job Description

An x-ray technician performs a range of procedures using radiography.

They take and develop x-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, and mammograms.

An x-ray technician will be referred a patient by another medical professional, and will usually receive the file shortly before they see a patient.

The technician will spend some time preparing the patient for the procedure.

They will make sure they change into a gown and remove any jewelry.

Safety is of the utmost importance, since x-ray technicians take many measures to protect themselves and their patients from radiation exposure.

This include protective guards and shield, control over beams, and lead protection.

After capturing the images on an x-ray, they will develop the images and return them to the referring physician.

Other duties that an x-ray technician may complete include keeping patient records, putting together patient lists, and other administrative duties.

Most x-ray technicians work a forty hour week.

They may need to work on weekends, evenings, or holidays, and some x-ray technicians also work on call, and may need to report to work on short notice in the case of an emergency.

Here are some of the tasks of an x-ray technician:

  • Reviewing physician’s notes on a patient
  • Explaining the procedure to a patient
  • Preparing a patient
  • Giving the patient a prepared solution to drink
  • Taking an x-ray
  • Developing an x-ray
  • Returning results to physicians

X-Ray Technician Salary and Career Path

When you first become an x-ray technician, you will be given simple tasks and patients to manage.

As you gain experience you will be given more independence in your role.

Some x-ray technicians go on to specialize in particular types of imaging.

Some may provide only CT scans or MRI scans, while some go on to complete further study to become nuclear medicine technicians.

Others work in other areas of medicine or go on to pursue research.

Currently most jobs for x-ray technicians are in hospitals, but more jobs are expected to be created in the offices of physicians in coming years.

The median salary of an x-ray technician is $52,000 a year.

The top 10% of earners make more than $74,000 a year.

Those who work in laboratories earn more than those in hospitals and private clinics.

Jobs in the field of radiography are increasing faster than average when compared to other occupations.

Some similar jobs to that of an x-ray technician include:

  • Registered nurse
  • Cardiovascular technician
  • Pathologist
  • Medical researcher
  • Sonographer
  • Ultrasound technician

If you are looking for a career in medicine with a strong future, then you might like to become an x-ray technician.

There is a good salary available, and lots of opportunity for professional development within the medical field.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$79,320
New Hampshire$70,250
New Jersey$74,300
New Mexico$61,200
New York$77,140
North Carolina$59,910
North Dakota$59,220
Rhode Island$77,680
South Carolina$57,450
South Dakota$56,170
West Virginia$55,060
Puerto Rico$28,280
Virgin Islands$50,670

The top earning state in the field is California, where the average salary is $95,170.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

California - $95,170
Hawaii - $84,100
Massachusetts - $79,360
District of Columbia - $79,320
Oregon - $78,800
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Radiologic Technologists and Technicians, OCC Code 29-2034, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an x-ray technician?

X-ray technicians are allied health professionals who perform x-rays in order to diagnose a variety of health problems.

Their job duties include maintaining imaging equipment, preparing patients for the procedures, shielding the patient’s body parts that don’t need imaging and operating the equipment to take images.

X-ray techs have to work with physicians to determine if additional images are needed.

They must write and maintain detailed reports about their patients.

X-ray technicians should follow very strict sanitation procedures to avoid being exposed to infectious diseases and they must wear badges that measure radiation levels; the risk of radiation is minimized by using protective equipment.

Some x-ray technicians work evening, overnight and weekend shifts to be able to respond to emergencies.

X-ray technicians need a variety of qualities, including attention to detail, technical skills, patience, physical strength, and communication skills.

How much does an x-ray technician make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for radiology technicians, in general, was $59,520 in May 2018.

Salaries in this field may vary based on the technician’s level of experience, his or her education, and the employer.

Some earn less than $40,000 while others make more than $85,000 a year.

How much does it cost to become an x-ray technician?

X-ray technicians need a few years of post-secondary education and a state license.

Associate’s degree programs in radiography can cost anywhere between $4,000-$30,000 in total, depending on the school you choose.

State licenses can be earned after graduating from an accredited program and after passing a state exam or if you obtain a certificate from a credentialing institution.

The American Registry for Radiologic Technologists is the certifying body for radiology technicians.

What is the demand for x-ray technicians?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for radiology technicians, in general, is projected to grow 9 percent from 2018 to 2028.

However, the demand varies depending on the radiology technician’s specialty.

As more doctors and patients choose to replace x-rays with MRIs or sonograms in order to avoid the risk of radiation exposure, x-rays technicians will have better job prospects if they also choose to become certified in other imaging techniques.

How long does it take to become an x-ray technician?

X-ray technicians typically need at least an associate’s degree in radiography and a state license.

Associate’s degree programs can typically be completed in around 2 years but 4-year bachelor’s degree programs are also available.

Post-secondary programs in this field combine classroom instruction and clinical training, teaching students anatomy, pathology, patient care, radiology physics, radiation protection methods, and imaging evaluation.

Licensing requirements for x-ray technicians vary by state but typically include graduating from an accredited school, passing a certification exam or obtaining a certification from an institution such as the American Registry for Radiologic Technologists.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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