How to Become an X-Ray Tech in Florida
X-ray techs are key players in the ever-evolving world of medical imaging, making it a versatile and in-demand profession.
Officially called Radiologic Technologists (RTs) or Limited Medical Radiologic Technologists (LMRTs) depending on specialty, X-ray techs play a vital role in the medical field by producing diagnostic images.
Education & Training
Below are some schools that offer Radiology degrees.
- Altamonte Springs, Fort Lauderdale, Gainesville, Hollywood, Miami
- Cutler Bay, Orange Park, Pensacola, Port St. Lucie
- Orlando, Tampa
- Clearwater, Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Lakeland, Melbourne, Miami, Naples, New Port Richey, Orlando, Patrick AF, Pembroke Pines, Port St. Lucie, Sarasota, Tallahassee, Tampa, West Palm Beach
- Lauderdale, Miami
The Associate of Science in Radiologic Technology equips students to pursue certification through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) and embark on careers as entry-level radiographers, with opportunities for growth and specialization in various modalities.
Prepares students for entry level Radiology Tech jobs. Career services supports grads in their job hunting.
This radiologic technology degree, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, equips students with essential expertise in radiography principles, procedures, pathology, cross-sectional anatomy, and beyond, ensuring comprehensive preparation for success in the field. Flexible scheduling.
The Keiser AS degree program, recognized by JRCERT, enables graduates to pursue national certification exams through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists and obtain licensure from the State of Florida for Radiologic Technology practice.
Start your career with South Florida State College's Radiography program, offering an Associate in Science (AS) degree and the opportunity to pursue certification through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) national examination. Uses a hybrid learning model that blends online, hands-on labs, and clinical education.
How Much Does It Cost?
Tuition and related expenses typically cost between $10,000 – $20,000, for those earning an associate’s degree. This number also depends on factors like resident status – attending an in-state institution will tend to cost less than an out-of-state one. For those earning a diploma or certificate, this amount will also usually be much smaller.
How Long Does It Take?
The time required to become an X-ray technician varies depending on what specific certification you pursue. For X-ray techs seeking the RT certification, getting licensed will typically take around 2 years as a comprehensive 2-year educational program is required. Those seeking the LMRT certification can usually complete the certification requirements in under a year if earning a diploma or certificate, but should expect around 2 years if seeking an associate’s degree in the field.
What Classes Do You Take?
Radiologic technology degree programs typically cover a comprehensive curriculum designed to equip students with the skills and knowledge necessary to get started in this career.
Course subjects will usually include:
- Medical Terminology: Understanding healthcare language, essential for accurate documentation and clear communication with other healthcare professionals.
- Patient Care: Developing the ability to provide compassionate and high-quality patient care and vital skills in patient interaction and maintaining patient comfort.
- Equipment Operations: Becoming proficient in operating a range of imaging equipment, including X-ray machines, and calibrating equipment to obtain the best possible diagnostic images.
- Imaging Production and Evaluation: Understanding the physics behind image formation, image quality, and the ability to identify anomalies or irregularities in images. Radiographic Procedures: Gaining expertise in positioning patients correctly, operating imaging equipment, and ensuring the production of clear and accurate diagnostic images.
Through program completion, students will also have become eligible to take the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) examination, through which they can become officially licensed as a RT.
In the state of Florida, aspiring X-ray technicians must complete a diploma or associate’s degree in radiologic technology, radiography, radiation therapy, or a related area, according to the Florida Department of Health.
Individuals seeking the radiologic technologist certification must complete a comprehensive two-year educational program, where the requirements for LMRTs are slightly less rigorous.
This typically entails completing an associate’s degree in the field, allowing prospective X-ray techs to both prepare for state certification and gain valuable hands-on experience necessary for the career.
You must also pass the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) or Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology (JRCNMT) examinations.
The Florida Department of Health recognizes the ARRT exam for most careers in the field, while the JRCNMT examination is for more specialized nuclear medicine technology.
This first exam is the main official requirement in Florida, but a separate ARRT certification is also available for further credentials.
The Basic X-ray Machine Operator (BXMO) license is also offered by the Florida Department of Health, in which you would sit for a limited version of the standard ARRT exam.
For all RTs and LMRTs, 12 hours of further education per year are also required to maintain licensure.
How Do You Get Certified?
The main part of getting certified is the ARRT exam – in Florida, passing the general exam (after completing a valid educational program) is what you need to be a licensed RT or LMRT. After passing the exam, you must submit an application online to the Florida Department of Health – if all documentation is in order, you can obtain a license usually within 2 weeks.
Additional ARRT certification is separate from the primary licensure, but can be worthwhile to add to your credentials. This can allow you to operate more specific equipment beyond general X-rays.
How Much Can You Make Starting Out?
The average national salary for X-ray techs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is around $67,000 as of 2022. Below are the average salaries for major Florida cities:
- Tampa: $62,501
- Miami: $63,701
- Fort Lauderdale: $60,147
- Orlando: $58,316
- Jacksonville: $58,889
- Tallahassee: $55,804
- St. Petersburg: $62,501
- Cape Coral: $61,501
- Port St. Lucie: $61,901
- Pensacola: $59,501
While these represent the averages, X-ray techs with more advanced, specialized certifications like those offered by the ARRT, and more experience can earn up to $100,000.
After obtaining certification through the ARRT or BXMO exam, X-ray techs can begin with entry-level positions as radiology aides or radiologic assistants, focusing on performing X-ray procedures and assisting with patient care.
As X-ray techs gain experience, more areas to specialize in open up, such as becoming MRI or CT-scan technologists, where job duties are slightly more advanced. Other opportunities include specializing in pediatric radiography, mammography, or interventional radiology, which could involve administering contrast materials for specific procedures.
With additional training and experience, X-ray techs can advance to leadership roles or transition into teaching and education within the field.
What Does Radiology Tech Mean?
The term Radiologic Technologist is an umbrella term used to represent a wide variety of technologists in the medical field. RTs may specialize in general radiography or in specific imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), mammography, or sonography to name a few. Radiographers represent the entry level position to Radiologic Technology.
It is important for Radiologic Technologist to show a calm, professional and helpful demeanor. One of the most difficult parts of a RTs job is to keep calm and show an unaffected demeanor when they see something that concerns them in the images that they take. This is where maintaining a professional attitude becomes very important.
When a patient arrives for imaging, they may be anxious and think or expect the worst. For this reason, strength of character and compassion are also very important and critical characteristics for an RT to possess.
Generally working as part of a team, RTs must also have strong interpersonal skills, easily and comfortably communicating with staff as well as patients. Maintaining a professional attitude and addressing the concerns of patients without entering into diagnosis conversations can be a challenge.
Where Can You Work?
Individuals who enter this career field can expect to work in a variety of different environments. RTs are employed in places such as:
- doctor’s offices
- walk-in clinics
- imaging centers
- nursing homes
- outpatient care facilities
Some are trained to work in the emergency room or to be a part of the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) team.
With additional certifications as needed, positions are also available in more specialized areas, such as dental offices, orthopedic clinics, or mobile radiography units. Even within a hospital or imaging center, a wide number of positions focusing on specific types of imaging equipment are available.
The type of schedule and hours that you work will depend greatly on where you work. If you work in a hospital or emergency room that need to be staffed 24 hours a day you can expect to work a variety of shifts. These shifts can include night shifts, weekends, and holidays.
Those who work in a doctor’s office or imaging center can expect to work a normal Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm shift without weekends, evenings or being on call.
The basic duties of an RT include;
- Prepare and develop X-ray films (i.e. radiographs) of various areas of the patient’s body to assist physicians and other health care practitioners uncover the underlying causes of medical conditions.
- Prepare patients for radiologic exams by explaining the procedure and answering questions, removing any items that X-rays won’t be able to pass through (e.g. jewelry) and position patients on the table so that the appropriate area o the body is exposed.
- Ensure that patients are protected from overexposure to radiation by covering the exposed area of the body with lead shields and limiting the size of the X-ray beam to reduce intensity.
- Follow the instructions of the physician exactly and abide by all health and safety regulations with regard to protecting themselves and, their co-workers from overexposure. This includes the use of gloves, masks, special glasses, and protective outerwear.
- Position the radiologic equipment to obtain the best angle and height with regard to the exposed area and adjust the controls to the correct intensity, contrast, and visual acuity.
- Create and store patient files.
- Clean and maintain radiologic equipment.
An RT cannot discuss image results with patients or issue diagnosis. Instead, they will tell the patient when they will be notified about the results by a radiologist or their doctor.
If the RT notices a problem that is considered an emergency, they notify a radiologist immediately. Respecting the proper lines of communication are a must in the medical imaging field.
Radiology Tech vs. X-ray Tech
Job Duty Differences
The primary differences between X-ray technicians and general radiologic technologists are the scope of their duties as well as the required level of education and certification. The job duties of radiology techs are overall more generalized, requiring familiarity with using a wide variety of imaging equipment, like CT scans and MRIs.
X-ray techs are required only to work with X-ray machines for more specific purposes, however there are still a number of different paths to take – for example, working in a more specialized setting like a chiropractic clinic or podiatry practice.
Radiologic technologists can also be called X-ray techs, but the official position requires the formal Radiologic Technologist (RT) certification, which is what the ARRT exam credential offers for Florida. This would require a minimum of two years of education through an associate’s degree.
X-ray techs can be Limited Medical Radiologic Technologists (LMRTs) or Basic X-ray Machine Operators (BXMOs). The LMRT certification can be earned through a limited version of the ARRT exam, while the BXMO license is administered by the Florida Department of Health. The required education only includes a diploma or certificate, unlike the longer time for the RT certification.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for the next decade for radiologic technology is faster than the national average, and this trend holds true in Florida, where the projected job growth is 16%. Florida, known for its large retiree community, contributes significantly to the sustained demand for healthcare services and diagnostic imaging, ensuring job security for X-ray techs in the state. Overall, with the projected growth in the field and opportunities for further specialization, now is a better time than ever to pursue a career as an X-ray technician.
Although hospitals will remain the main employer of RTs, even more opportunities are anticipated in medical offices, clinics, and diagnostic medical imaging centers. This trend is occurring in part because of the national push to reduce health care costs. Imaging centers, clinics and medical offices provide an outpatient setting for RT procedures, therefore reducing costs. Also, as the diagnostic imaging technology becomes cheaper to produce, these outpatient facilities will become more prevalent.
The field of radiology presents many interesting paths and advancement opportunities. Once you have been in the field for a while you may decide to learn other aspects of the radiology profession and become certified in a specialty.
Many medical imaging professionals began as radiologic technologists or medical assistants and then became cross trained or certified to perform additional procedures. Some even worked their way up to radiologist assistant positions. RTs familiar with a variety of imaging techniques will have a distinct advantage when it comes to advancement.