Your Career in CAT Scan Technology
CAT scan technologists, sometimes called radiologic technologists, CT scan technologists or CT technicians, are highly skilled allied health professionals who work with computerized tomography (CT) scanners. They provide diagnostic images from CAT scans to doctors.
CAT scans are highly detailed cross-sectional images of the inside of the human body, produced by ionizing radiation (x-rays). These cross-sectional images are combined by computer to produce three-dimensional views. Computerized tomography was invented in 1967, developed into a usable technology in the 1970’s, and since then has become widespread, revolutionizing internal medicine.
CAT scan technologists may work with other radiologic techniques, such as flouroscopy and traditional x-rays. Due to the fact that CAT scan technologists work with ionizing radiation, there are specific requirements in terms of training and licensing.
Job requirements and duties:
- Understand and carry out the scanning requests of physicians/
- Administer contrast chemicals.
- Position patients appropriately to capture the needed images (this requires the CAT scan technologist to be in good general health.)
- Operate computerized tomography and other equipment.
CAT scan technologists enjoy comfortable work environments in hospitals, medical centers, doctor’s offices, and private imaging clinics.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for radiologic technologists and technicians (the larger category CAT scan technologists belong to) is expected to grow more quickly than average.
Salary.com reports that the median salary for CAT scan technologists in the United States is $59,416. Salaries vary by setting and geography.
Most of the time, prospective CAT scan technologists complete an accredited program in radiology. It’s important to choose an accredited program. Fortunately, there are many; the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) lists 600 programs in the U.S. on its website, jrcert.org.
The usual degree for a CAT scan technologist is the associate’s degree, although some technologists earn bachelor’s degrees. Coursework includes radiation safety, anatomy, physics, and physiology.
Certification, usually required by employers due to the precautions and skill that must be used with ionizing radiation, is available through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). There are two levels of certification: primary and advanced post-primary certificate in computerized tomography.
Also, most states license CAT scan technologists. The licensing often requires graduation from an accredited program followed by ARRT certification and continuing education.
If you are interested in an allied health field with plenty of opportunity and growth potential, you may want to become a CAT scan technologist.