Radiation Therapist Careers

NUMBER OF JOBS

16,900

JOB OPENINGS

3,500

JOB GROWTH

20%

AVG. SALARY

$74,980 /yr

$36.05 /hr

All Stats from BLS.gov

Radiation therapists deliver radiation therapy to patients with cancer and other diseases. They talk with patients about their treatment, maintain radiation therapy machines, monitor patient progress and response, and keep records of treatment. They generally work as part of a medical team including radiation oncologists, oncology nurses, dosimetrists, and other professionals.

What Are the Education Requirements to be a Radiation Therapist?

An sociate’s or Bachelor’s degree in radiation therapy. Entry-level applicants can land a job with an Associate’s degree, which usually takes about two years of full-time study to earn.

While it’s possible to land an entry-level position with an Associate’s degree alone, employers often give preference to those with a Bachelor’s degree—and it’s helpful for those who want to move up into higher-level positions.

To pass licensure requirements in many states, radiation therapist schools should be accredited by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology is also a respected accreditation organization for radiation therapy programs.

Licensure. According to the ARRT, approximately 66% of states require radiation therapists to be licensed. Licensure requirements vary by state. In 36 states, candidates must earn a degree through an ARRT-accredited program. An exam is usually required—either administered by the ARRT or by a state agency, depending on where you live.

Certification. The ARRT also offers a professional certification program which is not mandatory in order to practice. However, it is well regarded by employers, and it can help you improve your competitiveness in the job market. To earn the certification, you must earn a degree from an ARRT-accredited school and pass both a certification test and a clinical component. The certification requires yearly renewal.

Can You Become a Radiation Therapist with an Online Degree?

It is difficult to earn a degree in any medical field entirely online, as so much of the medical profession requires on-the-job clinical training. In addition, the ARRT accreditation requirements include a review of on-site school facilities and equipment—so a degree program that is administered entirely online is unlikely to pass.

You may find that even if you hold an accredited online college degree with a significant hands-on clinical component, some employers may be skeptical. However, you may be able to find an accredited online degree program from a traditional school that offers a classroom practical component.

When choosing any program, online or traditional, be sure it is accredited by the required organization in your state.

How Much do Radiation Therapists Make?

Radiation therapy pays fairly well. The median wage was $74,980 in 2010 according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Those in the lowest 10% of earners made approximately $50,950, while the top earners received over $110,550.

What is the Job Outlook for Radiation Therapists?

The Occupational Outlook Handbook predicts that radiation therapy jobs will grow by 20% in the upcoming decade—making this a fairly fast-growing field. However, as the number of jobs in this field is not large to begin with, this may result in only about 3,400 new jobs in the next ten years.

Pros and Cons of Becoming a Radiation Therapist

This is a well-paying job, especially for one requiring only an Associate’s degree to start. In addition, the aging baby boom population is projected to drive growth into the coming decade. The biggest drawback is that the job pool in itself is fairly small, so you may be a bit limited in where you can work.

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