The demand for X-Ray technicians across the United States is growing at a faster than average pace according to the bureau of labor statistics, and as part of the health care industry the need for these professionals is not expected to go away. If you are looking for a career with good pay, long-term stability and one that you can get into without a four-year degree, you should consider becoming an X-Ray technician.

X-Ray technicians are responsible for operating x-ray imaging machines to provide tests to doctors so they can diagnose problems for patients. X-Ray technicians do not diagnose problems themselves. In addition, these technicians are responsible for controlling the amount of x-ray exposure to their patients so as not to harm them. They also must have good interpersonal skills to be able to talk to patients and reassure them when they are in pain, or confused about what is wrong with them. As an X-Ray technician you can get a job at hospitals, clinics or medical offices, or at some laboratories, or surgical centers.

Getting Started

Usually junior colleges and vocational schools provide the fastest way to get into the career with one to two year programs. The prices of the programs vary widely, and can end in diplomas, or associate degrees. Most programs will require students to go through basic math, science and anatomy courses first, and then students will start taking specific classes about x-ray technology and operating the machines. Many of the programs also include lab work or internships before graduation so that you can graduate with some feel for what the real work will be like.

In California, the department of public health strictly regulates X-ray technicians, so the school you go to must be approved by them. After completing the required education, those interested in beginning the career must apply with the Radiologic Health Branch of the department of public health in order to get certified. The state certification consists of an application and an exam. The application fee is $75 and $100 for the exam. The duration of the certification depends on the scope of responsibility you want to get certified for.

To continue practicing as an X-Ray technician you must make sure you don’t let your certification expire. It is unlawful to practice without state certification, and the costs to renew the certification more than double from $70 to $150 if you wait to renew after your certification is expired. The process to renew consists of filling out an application, but before doing so you must take 24 hours of continuing education courses in your x-ray field within two years from the expiration of your certification.

Once you’re ready to find a job, be prepared for hard work. While the hours for X-Ray technicians aren’t as hectic as other health care professionals, while at work, technicians are on their feet a majority of the time, and keep busy. In hospitals, they may work in more fast paced hectic settings where they could work “on-call” shifts and may be called into the emergency room during busy times as needed.

If you’re interested in being trained as an x-ray technician, view our list of schools in California that offer x-ray technician programs.