Radiation Therapist

What Does a Radiation Therapist Do?
Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy radiation to target and treat cancer. Radiation therapists work with the radiation technology used in hospitals, cancer centers, and other health care facilities. This technology is not limited to only equipment that treats disease, but also includes diagnostic radiation equipment as well, such as fluoroscopy, CT scanning machines, and x-ray films, according to the Mayo School of Health Sciences. These diagnostic readings help the radiation oncology team, which the radiation therapists work under, to develop a treatment strategy. Radiation therapy can be used alone or as part of a combination treatment with chemotherapy or surgery. Radiation therapists follow the directions of the oncology team in utilizing the equipment for treatment. They are also responsible for the patientís comfort during treatment, carefully monitoring the patient’s state for the entire duration of radiation treatments. In addition, therapists keep detailed records of each patient’s treatment regime and results so that the oncology team may best assess how the treatment is progressing.

What Is the Employment and Salary Outlook for a Radiation Therapist?
Health care is one of the most stable and improving industries in the work force today. There will always be a need for health care professionals due to the complexity of treating the human body and the unpredictability of disease and aging. Due to this ongoing need, health-related jobs will continue to grow as the population grows and medical technology advances. In particular, the rising number of people reaching their elder years is leading to an immediate need for more health care jobs. It is little surprise that job openings for radiation therapists are rapidly increasing. In fact, employment opportunities for radiation therapists are projected to improve an amazing 27 percent between 2008 and 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The salary of radiation therapists is substantial as well, with those working in the field earning an average of $72,910 annually, according to the latest information available from the Bureau.

How Can I Become a Radiation Therapist?
Radiation therapy is a highly rewarding field that allows you to work directly with patients to improve their situation. To become a radiation therapist, you must first earn an associate degree in radiography. This degree program typically takes about two years to complete, during which you will take courses in the principles of radiography, anatomy, radiographic ethics, and other classes that will build your understanding of the field. Many states require that prospective radiation therapists also seek licensure and certification with the American Registry of Radiographic Technologists (ARRT) before working professionally. Licensure requirements vary by state, so be sure to check with your local licensing agency to find out what is needed to obtain a license. Those seeking certification need to pass the examination given by the ARRT. This certification should be renewed annually, and radiation therapists must satisfy the continuing education mandates outlined by the ARRT to be eligible for recertification.