Radiologist vs. Radiology Technician: What’s the Difference?

Perhaps you have noticed that there are several titles or job descriptions that are related to radiology, and you are curious to know what the differences are.

If you have had to have an X-ray, CT or MRI scan before, it is possible that you have noticed how there are radiologists and radiology technicians who work in hospitals, clinics, or other medical facilities, and they seem to have different job descriptions of their own.

While both are considered as health care professionals, working side-by-side in hospitals and other medical and healthcare facilities, and dealing with much of the same aspects of radiology and its purpose of diagnosing and combating illnesses, radiologists and radiology technicians differ based on their level of training, experience, and duties.

What Do Radiology Technicians Do?

Radiologist vs. Radiology Technician: What’s the Difference?Radiology technicians specialize in handling the equipment and in conducting the various imaging tests such as ultrasounds, X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, etc.

Generally, radiology technicians focus on specializing in one type of procedure, but it is more advantageous to aim for certification in more than one procedure so the radiology technician can perform several.

If you walk into a clinic or hospital, the radiology technician would be the one to assist you with the procedure based on the doctor’s instructions and the patient’s needs.

The radiology technician is also responsible for making sure that the patient is properly shielded and prepped for the examination. Most importantly, the radiology technician must operate the equipment correctly, aligning and adjusting the imaging equipment appropriately and assisting the doctors or radiologists with the test results.

What Do Radiologists Do?

On the other hand, the radiologist is trained for more advanced responsibilities such as using radiation equipment for treating illnesses, and analyzing results and discussing them with the patient in order to come up with the best possible solution.

They have a higher level of understanding of the medical imaging procedures and test results, so they are expected to fully interpret and discuss them with patients. While in smaller clinics or facilities, the radiologist may also be the one to handle the examination itself, in larger facilities it is usually the radiology technician’s duty to carry out the examination, while the radiologist handles the results.

Education and Training: More Required for Radiologists

Radiology technicians can usually complete an associate’s or bachelor’s degree to prepare for the job, and be able to earn a state license (requirements vary by state) as well as pass a comprehensive examination.

Many vocational schools or community colleges have fast-track courses and programs for radiology technicians, averaging about two years of schooling.

Radiologists, on the other hand, go through a much longer process of acquiring an undergraduate and graduate degree, completing internship and residency, before being able to practice as full-fledged radiologists.

Aspiring radiologists are looking at an average of 10 years of training.

Salary Comparison: Radiologists Earn More

Of course, the hard work does pay off in the end.

On the average, radiologists have an annual salary of around $356,885 yearly, while radiology technicians average $54,340 yearly.

That said, job growth prospects for both radiology technicians and radiologists are expected to continue to grow yearly, with the demand projected to increase to 28 percent by the year 2020.

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