Radiology technicians are integral to the healthcare system. This career offers plenty of room for growth and advancement. With these benefits comes the need for specialized schooling, vocational training, and certification. Are you ready to take the next steps toward earning your radiology tech degree online? Start here.
Top 5 Best Accredited Online Radiology Technician Programs
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Top Online Programs
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Many variables affect radiology technicians’ salaries. These include location, employer, and experience level. Specializations and certifications factor in as well. For a rough idea of what radiology technicians make, see the chart below.
Source: BLS, May 19
An associate degree is the typical requirement for becoming a radiology technician. Bachelor’s and master’s programs serve those who want to advance their radiology careers. This may include moving into teaching positions, management, or advanced medical work. Some may want advanced medical knowledge to gain a competitive advantage. These professionals may pursue a bachelor’s degree.
A bachelor’s degree is the minimum degree required to become a radiologist assistant. These professionals perform a more advanced practice of radiology. Radiologists supervise radiologist assistants. Radiologist assistants may conduct patient assessment and radiological examinations. They may also do preliminary analysis of radiological images.
Various radiology specialties exist. These include X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and computed tomography (CT). An associate degree suffices for any specialty. Those who want to work in administration or higher education should earn a master’s.
Most radiology techs hold associate degrees. This degree takes two years to complete. Associate degrees are available at community colleges, vocational schools, and technical schools. These programs may follow a traditional, on-campus format or a blended online format.
After completing an associate degree program, students can pursue certification. They may sit for the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification exam. Learners can expect the following types of courses in their associate degree program:
- Medical Terminology: An overview of medical words and their component parts. This may include suffixes, roots and prefixes.
- Procedures in Radiography I: Covers the basics of X-ray examinations and procedures.
- Advanced Trigonometry and Algebra: Explains pre-calculus level algebra and trigonometry concepts.
- Radiographic Body Positioning: Students learn to position the human body for radiographic imaging.
Radiology Careers with an Associate Degree
Bachelor’s degrees usually take four years to complete. Bachelor’s students receive a well-rounded education. They take general education courses and advanced medical and radiological coursework. Associate programs do not entail this coursework.
Community colleges and vocational schools do not offer bachelor’s degrees. Bachelor’s students can expect higher tuition costs. Typical bachelor’s coursework may include:
- Human Anatomy I: discusses the basics of the human body. These may include the musculoskeletal structure and central nervous system.
- Radiological Clinical Decision-Making: looks at common healthcare-related decisions made in the field. These may include drug interactions, pharmaceutical regulations and patient safety.
- Introduction to Radiology: examines theoretical concepts and practical considerations. Considerations may include equipment, procedures, and patient care.
- Pathophysiology: covers the interaction between disease and injury within the human body
Master’s Degree and Beyond
Graduate degrees in radiologic sciences are rare, but a few exist. These degrees help students who want to teach at the college level. Those who want to manage radiology technician teams need graduate degrees as well.
- Practicum: Provides hands-on training under the supervision of radiological professionals
- Radiologic and Imaging Science Research: Focuses on radiological areas of research
- Lymphatic and Vascular Imaging: covers specific radiological techniques and strategies. Professionals use these for imaging the human lymphatic and vascular system
- Financial Management: Looks at the financial considerations and economic theories. Students apply these theories to healthcare organizations and radiology departments.
Radiology Careers with a Master’s Degree
How Can I Get a Radiology Technician Degree Online?
Prospective radiology technicians take several steps before they can start working with patients. They should first make sure they have the qualities to succeed in this rewarding career.
Radiology technicians should feel comfortable with math and scientific concepts. They should have solid interpersonal skills when interacting with patients. Finally, these professionals must be detail-oriented. This is necessary to operate complex medical equipment and follow physicians’ specific instructions.
Candidates who meet these qualifications should then take the following steps.
- Obtain a High School Diploma or GED Certificate
- Accredited radiologic science programs mandate this. Time to complete: Four years
- Identify Career Goals
- Students’ career objectives determine which degree they should pursue. Time to complete: Varies
- Research Radiologic Science Programs
- After selecting a degree path, students can research programs offering their degree of choice. Time to complete: Varies
- Take the ACT/SAT
- Many college programs require one of these standardized college entrance exams. Time to complete: 3-6 months
- Apply to Schools
- Aspiring students must submit an application. They may also have to write a personal essay, sit for an interview, and get recommendation letters. Applications often need standardized test scores and certified copies of necessary transcripts. Time to complete: 3-6 months
- Clear Background Checks
- Some programs ask entering students to pass necessary background checks. Students with prior criminal offenses may not qualify for licensing or certification. Time to complete: three months minimum
- Obtain CPR Certification
- Some schools expect students to know how to administer CPR. With this knowledge, learners can engage in the hands-on, clinical curriculum requirements. Time to complete: Less than a week
- Apply for Financial Aid
- Students should complete a FAFSA and begin applying for scholarships. Time to complete: three months minimum
- Provide Proof of Satisfactory Health
- Applicants must undergo a physical examination by a doctor. They should also complete a form to prove they are in good health to work with and treat patients. Time to complete: Less than one month
- Begin Classes
- The schooling has begun. Students should continue to work hard and get good grades. This can help them stand out from their peers when it comes time to find a job. Time to complete: 1-4 years
- Complete Clinical Requirements
- The curriculum should include hands-on practical experience elements. Students who excel with clinical requirements capture their instructors’ and supervisors’ attention. Time to complete: Varies
- Apply for Certification
- Students seeking ARRT certification should begin the process about three months before graduation. Time to complete: Up to one year
- Study for the Certification Exam
- Passing the certification exam is necessary for future employment as a radiology technician. Time to complete: three months minimum
- Apply for State Licensing
- Most states require radiology technicians to obtain state licensure before they can practice. Time to complete: Up to one year
- Take the necessary certification and licensing exams
- Graduates take their licensing or certification exams at Pearson VUE test centers. Time to complete: One day per exam
- Seek Postgraduate Employment
- Graduates should attend job fairs to network. They must also submit their resumes to employers looking for radiology technicians. Time to complete: Varies
How Do I Find Accredited Online Radiology Technician Programs?
Students should choose their schools based on their specific situations and professional goals. The best program for one student may not be the best for another.
Prospective learners should consider course delivery methods. Students can usually complete many parts of their curriculum online. But due to radiology’s hands-on nature, programs often require some in-person participation. Students meet these requirements at local medical offices, hospitals, or their schools’ campuses.
Some graduate-level programs are available completely online. To help make this search process a little easier, students can use the following tool.
Are There Scholarships and Grants for Radiology Techs?
Many college students qualify for gift-based financial aid, which does not require repayment. The most common forms of gift-based aid include scholarships and grants.
Scholarships are typically awarded based on merit and/or academic performance. This type of aid may also reward students coming from specific backgrounds.
- Sallie Mae is one of the most prominent private student loan companies. This company offers information on finding and applying for college scholarships.
- Unigo is a comprehensive college resource with an expansive college scholarship directory.
Unlike scholarships, the primary eligibility criterion for grants is financial need. Grants are most commonly available from government resources.
- Federal Student Aid offers federal-based financial aid. This includes need-based grants like the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant.
- College Board—BigFuture administers the SAT. This organization also provides information for prospective college students. This may include details on grants and scholarships.
Radiologic science is a specific field with a few scholarships and grants available. These particularly serve college students studying to become radiology technicians.
Accreditation is important for obtaining licensing, certification, and financial aid. Many forms of aid are only available to students who attend accredited institutions. Students attending non-accredited programs may not secure any form of financial aid. This is especially true of government-funded aid.
Best Radiology Technician Programs
For this year’s college rankings, our analysts carefully reviewed statistical data from multiple sources for more than 7,500 postsecondary institutions so that you could easily evaluate schools based on what matters most to you. For each school, we applied the eligibility criteria outlined below, then ranked schools and programs based on four ranking factors.
Eligibility Criteria for All Postsecondary Institutions:
- Must be a not-for-profit institution
- Must be regionally or nationally accredited
- Must offer at least one online program
- Must be located in a state (schools in US territories and Washington DC were not considered)
Dozens of data points were used to calculate a weighted score for four ranking factors: quality, affordability, flexibility and program (in order of significance). To determine quality, which was the most important consideration for all AS Online rankings, the most impactful data points were acceptance and graduation rates; for affordability, tuition2 and grants; for flexibility, part-time enrollment offerings; and for program, degrees conferred in that program area.
All rankings used data from the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) Accreditation information was from ABET and the US Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education
The Best Online MBA Programs rankings included data on GMAT scores from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
Rankings for nursing bridge programs included data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and DiscoverNursing.com
Some of our nursing program rankings used exam pass rates from NCLEX
How to Read Our Rankings Tool:
- A dash indicates IPEDS data was not available
- Annual in-state tuition is displayed unless stated otherwise
- Our Best Vocational Programs rankings included data for both online and campus programs.
- Both annual in-state and out-of-state tuition rates were used in our methodology; however, our Rankings Tool currently only displays annual in-state rates.
We selected and ranked the following schools based on a variety of factors. These factors may include student-to-teacher ratio and degree type. Tuition rates, job placement services, and financial aid offerings are factors as well. Students should choose schools based on the factors most important to them.
All schools featured on our radiology tech ranking hold accreditation. Learners at any of these schools receive high-quality education. This education prepares students to become licensed, certified radiology technicians.
Morehead State University
At Morehead State University, online students can complete a Bachelor of Science in Imaging Sciences with a concentration in Leadership in Medical Imaging. You will focus on topics such as fiscal management, program planning, healthcare law and policy and patient evaluation. This is a competitive application process with limited space. Prospective students should already have training and certification in a radiologic sciences field in an accredited program with a 2.5 GPA or higher. You should also have completed at least 15 credit hours of prerequisite courses in computer literacy, speech communications, English and mathematics before applying. MSU graduates typically move on to careers in imaging sciences administration or management positions.
Distance learners at Clarion University can earn a Bachelor of Science in Medical Imaging Sciences online. This is a 120-credit program that offers two concentrations: radiologic technology or ultrasound. Graduates are proficient in performing all types of imaging exams to meet ARRT requirements. The hybrid version of the program only accepts students who are already credentialed radiologic technologists, sonographers, nuclear medicine technologists, radiation therapists or medical dosimetrists. Clinical requirements must be completed in-person. Most students in this program transfer in 60 credits from another accredited program and complete the remaining major core requirements at Clarion. Applicants must submit their high school GPA and SAT or ACT scores.
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Students at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse can earn their Bachelor of Science in Radiation Therapy in a blended format in approximately 4 years. WIth courses such as Radiation Physics, Pathophysiology, Patient Care and Medical Imagine, UWL will train you to administer radiation therapy and conduct x-rays for a variety of patients. Of the 120 required credits, a minimum of 30 semester hours must be complete in residence at UWL for graduation. Applicants should have at least a 2.75 GPA and 40 hours of observation in a radiation therapy department. Prospective students who need help accessing facilities to complete the observation requirements may contact the department for assistance or to schedule a visit.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers a blended Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Science option for distance learners. In this medical imaging-driven program, you will focus on the administration of radiation and x-rays for disease diagnosis and injury evaluation. You will explore several main areas of the practice such as orthopedics, pediatrics and mammography, vascular imaging and computerized tomography. Graduates are prepared to sit for the ARRT national certification exam in radiologic technology. UNC requires a host of general education requirements and radiologic science pre-admission courses. Applicant must also have a 2.5 GPA or higher.
Weber State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Sciences entirely online. Courses are self-paced and take about 4 weeks to complete, although you may take longer if you wish. As a distance learner, you will receive training in advanced radiologic sciences specialties, sonography, nuclear medicine and radiation therapy. To enroll in this program, students must be certified in medical imaging and/or therapeutic radiation before enrolling. Incoming students must submit their official high school transcripts or GED documentation. ACT and SAT scores are not mandatory and no clinicals are required for graduation. At Weber, distance learners also pay a flat in-state tuition rate.