How to become a Radiation therapist

  • To become a radiation therapist, one should complete formal education programs after pursuing an entry level education (high school diploma or general equivalency diploma degree). Then, the candidate should enroll in an accredited associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in radiation therapy. One should select a radiation therapy program based on the licensing requirement of the concerned state as the state requirements vary by state. Keep reading for more information about how to become a radiation therapist.

  • In general, radiation therapy programs are offered at post-secondary colleges, including community colleges. It has been reported by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that the radiation therapy programs can be completed through certificate programs that last for a duration of 12 months. Moreover, employers prefer radiation therapists holding a bachelor’s or associate’s degree. The course study of radiation therapy includes gaining knowledge about the scientific theories and mastery in radiation therapy procedures. Some of the courses included in radiation therapy programs are computer science, algebra, physics, human anatomy and physiology, and research methodology.

    Moreover, one should complete a specific coursework in a clinical radiation therapy program to gain work experience in a clinical setting. Various radiation therapy schools offer different radiation therapy programs; while some offer diploma programs that include only 12 months of radiation therapy program. One can prefer taking up courses in one’s field of interest such as head and neck radiology, and radiological imaging technique, to include a few.

    The radiation therapist can obtain a license on passing an examination officially conducted by the state. Sometimes, one may require tests with national recognition. Although, certification is not imperative to radiation therapists from all states; however, most employers prefer certified radiation therapists. In addition, one should check the state requirements as not all states require certification. The state certification can be obtained by passing a state exam after obtaining a voluntary certificate in radiation therapy from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).

    Why to become a radiation therapist ?

    The radiation therapists are at a high demand currently due to the increasing number of patients undergoing diagnostic or imaging tests for cancer. Moreover, thousands of radiation therapists are employed immediately on completion of their radiation therapy programs. This is also due to increasing number of diagnostic imaging centers that offer affordable medical diagnostic services to large number of customers. Moreover, one can have a lucrative and respected career by treating cancer patients and improving an overall state of wellness in them. In addition, one can start earning soon after completing just less than 12 months or 2 years of radiation therapy training program from an accredited school.

    Currently, the radiation therapists are at a higher demand than before and according to the BLS, the employment for them is more likely to increase by up to 20 percent by the year 2010 to 2020. Radiation therapists tend to get new job openings with the fast growth of radiation therapy services in future. Apart from receiving competitive salary, one can gain more salary benefits by becoming a certified radiation therapist. It has been reported that the new jobs can increase by up to 3,400 over the 10-year period as it is a small occupation.

    In fact, aging population is at risk of developing cancer and hence there is a sudden hike of radiation therapists. Radiation therapy technology is rapidly advancing due to the incorporation of various sophisticated treatment techniques that aid in early diagnosis of cancer. Hence, it has been reported by the BLS projects that the job opportunities are more likely to increase in this field due to the treatment needs of aged population.

    Radiation therapist requirements 

    An aspiring radiation therapist should first complete an entry level education (high school degree or GED certificate or high school diploma in biology, math, physics, and chemistry). This is followed by the completion of 2 years of associate’s degree from an accredited program in a school or hospital. Alternatively, the candidate can also prefer to complete 4 years of bachelor’s degree or a study in radiological imaging from a school or university that is accredited. This is followed by a certification and licensure on completion of radiation therapy program.  The candidate should then undergo 12 months of radiation therapy training program and become a registered radiation therapist by the A.R.R.T followed by certification.

    Radiation therapist training

    On successful completion of radiation therapy program that usually lasts for 12 months or less than a year, one can apply to take ARRT exams to obtain certificate. The candidate should undergo training course in radiation therapy and become a registered radiation therapist by the A.R.R.T (American Registry of Radiologic Technologists) after passing the certification exam. Most states require radiation therapists to be licensed by a state accrediting board. Many also require applicants for licensing to pass the ARRT certification examination.

    Radiation therapist certification

    One should understand that every state requirement for becoming a certified radiation therapist will be different. The number of hours of radiation therapy training varies for different states.

    To become a certified radiation therapist, one should complete an accredited radiation therapy program, a typical educational coursework that includes medical subjects like human anatomy and physiology. A professional radiation therapist requires in depth knowledge about full body anatomy to treat patients with various types of cancer. For this reason, one should learn various anatomy and physiological mechanism of various parts of the body. The education and training for a certified radiation therapist initially focuses on the clinical concepts in radiation oncology, radiation protection, treatment planning, drug administration, patient care and education. Moreover, one should learn the ARRT ethical standards, and pass the ARRT exam. The certification is valid for one year, which can be periodically renewed by participating in continuing education and fulfilling the ARRT ethical standards.

    Radiation therapist license

    The candidate then qualifies for the examinations conducted by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) upon graduation from a radiation therapy program. The radiation therapist can obtain certification by completing a course in radiation therapy and receive a voluntary certificate from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). In general, the candidate should obtain a radiation therapy certificate from a school or hospital and the radiation therapy program should be accredited by the ARRT. The student should obtain a certificate in radiation therapy on completion of exams by the ARRT and receive a state license followed by registration.

    Radiation therapist degree and education

    To become a radiation therapist, one should complete an entry-level education (high school diploma or GED or its equivalent) and complete a degree in radiation therapy. One can complete either a four-year bachelor’s degree in radiography or a two-year associate’s degree in radiation therapy from an accredited school. One can also complete a degree in radiological imaging before pursuing a certificate program in radiation therapy that lasts for a year. The program curriculum can include both scientific theory classes and practical radiation therapy procedures. The state certification can be obtained by passing a state exam after obtaining a voluntary certificate in radiation therapy from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).

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