How to Become an Imaging Tech: A Step-by-Step Guide

Considering a career in medical imaging? Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to become an imaging technologist.

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An imaging technologist, also called a radiologic technologist, is someone who specializes in using diagnostic imaging equipment to produce images of the human body. This can include X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, and ultrasound imaging.

Imaging technologists must be licensed in order to practice in most states. Licensure requirements vary by state but generally include passing an exam administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Some states also require continuing education in order to maintain licensure.

Becoming an imaging technologist requires completing a radiography program at an accredited school. These programs are typically two or four years in length and lead to an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, respectively. Once you have completed a radiography program, you will need to obtain licensure and complete any required continuing education in order to practice legally in your state.

What is an Imaging Technician?

An imaging tech is a medical professional who uses diagnostic imaging equipment to help diagnose patients. This equipment includes X-ray machines, computed tomography (CT) scanners, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines. Imaging techs usually work in hospitals, but some may also work in outpatient facilities or in doctors’ offices.

Job Description

An imaging technician, also called a medical radiographer, is a medical professional who uses diagnostic imaging equipment to produce images of the human body. The images are used by physicians to diagnose and treat patients.

Imaging technicians typically receive a two-year associate’s degree in radiography from an accredited program. Some technicians may choose to receive certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technicians (ARRT).

Most states regulate the practice of radiography and require imaging technicians to be licensed. Licensure requirements vary by state but usually include passing an exam and completing a certain number of hours of continuing education every year.

Imaging technicians typically work in hospitals, clinics, or private medical offices. They may work full time or part time, and their schedules may include evenings and weekends.


As of May 2018, the median annual salary for imaging technicians was $63,510, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The top 10% of earners made more than $92,620, while the bottom 10% earned less than $41,280. Imaging technicians who worked in hospitals earned a median salary of $64,700 per year, while those employed in physicians’ offices and diagnostic laboratories earned a median salary of $62,160 per year.

Education and Certification

Education and certification requirements for imaging technicians vary by state and employer, but most employers prefer to hire technicians who have completed an accredited radiology program and are certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Many employers also prefer technicians who have experience in a particular type of imaging, such as X-ray, computed tomography (CT), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Imaging technicians can find employment in hospitals, clinics, physician offices, or other healthcare facilities. Some imaging technicians may also work in industries such as aerospace or manufacturing, where they use imaging equipment to detect flaws in products or materials.

How to Become an Imaging Technician

Becoming an imaging technician can be a great career choice. As an imaging technician, you will be responsible for taking diagnostic images of the human body using X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs. If you are interested in becoming an imaging technician, here is a step-by-step guide on how to become one.

Step One: Research

The field of medical imaging is ever-changing, so it’s important to stay abreast of new technologies and developments. Check out professional journals, attend conferences, or read articles and blogs written by imaging experts. Also consider pursuing further education in the form of certificate programs or advanced degrees in imaging sciences.

Step Two: Get a Degree or Certification

A successful imaging tech career starts with proper education and training. You can become an imaging tech in one of two ways: either by completing an accredited imaging tech program or by completing on-the-job training. Both routes have their pros and cons, so it’s important to choose the path that’s right for you.

If you decide to complete an accredited imaging tech program, you’ll need to complete a two-year associate’s degree or a four-year bachelor’s degree in medical imaging technology. These programs are offered at many community colleges and universities across the country. Once you’ve completed your degree, you must then pass a national exam administered by the American Registry for Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) to earn your certification.

If you decide to go the on-the-job training route, you can complete a one- or two-year program offered at many hospitals and clinics. These programs will provide you with hands-on training in all aspects of medical imaging. Once you’ve completed your training, you can also take the ARRT exam to earn your certification.

Step Three: On-the-Job Training

Imaging technicians typically complete on-the-job training lasting up to one year. Some hospitals and diagnostic imaging facilities offer formal training programs, which typically last 6 to 12 months. During on-the-job training, imaging technicians work under the supervision of experienced technicians and technologists. They learn how to prepare patients for examinations, operate imaging equipment, process images, and maintain records. Some technicians also learn how to administer contrast agents, which are used in some types of examinations.

Step Four: Advancement Opportunities

As your experience and skill set grow, you’ll likely find there are many advancement opportunities open to you as an imaging technician. Some common choices include:

-Becoming a lead tech or supervisor in your current facility
-Earning additional certification in a specialty area
-Pursuing a degree in medical imaging technology
-Teaching imaging technology courses at a vocational school or community college
-Working as a traveling imaging tech to fill temporary vacancies at hospitals and other facilities around the country


If you want to become an imaging tech, you will need to complete a training program and earn your certification. With the right training and certification, you can begin your career in this rewarding field.

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