How to Become an X-Ray Tech

Check out how you can become an X-ray tech in just two years. Plus, discover essential salary and career information.
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James Mielke
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James Mielke writes education and career-focused guides for BestColleges. Beyond higher education topics, his writing has been featured in Golfweek and Eaten Magazine. James has a history degree from Belmont University and is an unapologetic Grateful...
Updated on March 30, 2023
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Margaret Weinhold is an associate editor for BestColleges, where she focuses on core content. She is passionate about increasing visibility and accessibility around higher education. Margaret holds a BA in English from the University of Virginia....
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  • X-ray techs are healthcare professionals that work in various clinical settings, including hospitals and clinics.
  • X-ray techs use their specialized training to operate diagnostic equipment while offering compassionate and competent care.
  • These healthcare workers can earn licensure and professional certifications through community colleges and technical schools.

If you're looking to jumpstart your career in healthcare, but you don't know which area to specialize in, it's worth considering how to become an X-ray tech.

These professionals play a critical role in the diagnostic process while offering compassionate patient care. Plus, this growing field only requires a couple of years of training.

Throughout this piece, we take a close look at how you can become an X-ray tech. From education requirements to professional certification, we'll walk you through the steps you'll need to know when pursuing this growing and vital career. Keep reading to learn more.

4 Steps for Becoming an X-Ray Tech

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What Is an X-Ray Tech?

X-ray techs use their specialized training to assist and perform diagnostic tests, such as CT scans, MRIs, and X-rays. They also work with doctors and other healthcare professionals to oversee tests, ensure patient safety, and complete administrative tasks involving patient records.

While the work environment and schedule for X-ray techs vary between jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that nearly 60% of these professionals work in hospitals. About 20% work in physicians' offices.

Because this is a patient-centered position, you can expect to spend a lot of time on your feet during a full-time work week. And you may need to work evening, overnight, and weekend shifts — especially if you work in a hospital.

Key Responsibilities

  • Maintain imaging equipment and make any adjustments necessary for patient diagnostics and imaging.
  • Prepare patients for diagnostic testing, including taking their medical history and explaining the exam.
  • Take images and/or run diagnostic tests through computerized equipment and other testing tools.
  • Analyze images in consultation with the patient's doctor to find any health concerns.
  • Keep detailed patient records by including all information discovered from imaging tests.

Necessary Skills

  • Attention to detail is vital when dealing with patient care, complex diagnostic machinery, and diagnostic information collection.
  • Professionalism in communication is essential, especially during stressful patient interactions.
  • Technical proficiency in equipment operation, maintenance, and calibration is at the center of any X-ray tech position.
  • X-ray techs need foundational medical knowledge in areas like physiology and human anatomy.

Certification Process for X-Ray Techs

Some states require licensure for X-ray techs. Each state medical board decides the licensure requirements for its state. You should research state requirements for licensure before beginning your career journey. Some colleges offer resources to help students understand and meet licensure requirements in their state of residence.

You can also earn certification from professional organizations. Employers may require you to hold a certification. And you may find it easier to secure a position at a hospital or clinic with certification. The ARRT certifies X-ray techs through an exam.

For MRI certification, you may take the ARMRIT certification exam. You must have documented experience with an MRI machine or completed formal MRI technologist education to take this exam.

X-Ray Tech Salary and Job Demand

Median Annual Salary (May 2021)


Job Outlook (2021-2031)


Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

X-ray tech students entering the workforce can anticipate a growing field that offers higher-than-average pay. According to the BLS, radiologic technologists and technicians earned a median annual salary of nearly $62,000 in May 2021.

In addition, the top 10% of earners made more than $100,000 per year. Top earners in the field typically have many years of experience and specialized education and training. They also work in markets that offer higher wages.

The BLS also notes that, because of an aging population, the demands on healthcare professionals will continue to grow in the coming years. As a result, the job demand for X-ray techs and other diagnostic professionals may grow by as many as 17,000 jobs from 2021-2031.

We spotlight the top five highest-paying states below.

Top 5 Paid States:

  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Massachusetts
  • District of Columbia
  • Oregon

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming an X-Ray Tech

What does an X-ray tech do?

X-ray techs assist doctors with diagnostic tests such as X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans. After a doctor determines which tests a patient needs, X-ray techs prepare the necessary equipment and oversee the testing. This includes informing the patient about the testing process, taking the patient's medical history, and preparing the patient for testing.

Is it hard to become an X-ray tech?

While prospective X-ray techs don't navigate endless academic hurdles, they do need to complete at least a community college or technical school program. In addition to academic requirements, future X-ray techs must complete any technical and clinical requirements that state licensure requires.

How long does it take to become an X-ray tech?

The time it takes to become an X-ray tech can vary. But pursuing an associate degree is often a great choice if you want to enter the healthcare workforce quickly. By studying full time, you can finish an associate degree in about two years. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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