2020 Online Radiology Tech Schools & Programs
Radiologists are an important part of every healthcare team, using medical imaging procedures such as X-rays and ultrasounds to diagnose and treat injuries and diseases. Although all professionals in this field have studied radiology, some have earned more advanced degrees, and thus earn higher annual salaries. For example, licensed radiologic and MRI technicians need only an associate degree and earn a median annual salary of $62,280, while full-fledged radiologists earn doctoral-level degrees—similar to that of a doctor or dentist—and earn median annual incomes of over $200,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The following is a ranked list of the best online degrees in radiology. Continue reading for more information about degree levels, accreditation, and career paths.
Most Popular Accredited Online Schools for Radiology Degrees
Online Radiology Degree Overview & Career Information
An associate degree is the minimum degree required within the field of radiology. Students can complete an associate program in two years through a total of 54 to 60 credit hours of coursework. This degree level will prepare graduates for entry-level technologist positions. A GED or high school diploma is a necessary prerequisite for admission into an associate program.
In order to qualify for management positions in imaging and patient care, professionals will want to consider pursuing their bachelor's degree. Depending on their highest level of completed education, students can finish a 60 to 134 hour bachelor's program in two to four years. Applicants must have a high school diploma, GED, or associate degree prior to enrolling.
Students interested in graduate programs will complete 30 to 33 credit hours over the course of one to two years to earn their master's. A bachelor's degree in radiology must have been previously earned and the applicant must possess three years of relevant work experience. Graduates will be eligible to work as radiologist assistants.
Online Associate Degrees in Radiology
An associate degree is the minimum qualification needed to obtain a job as a radiologic technologist at any healthcare facility. These degrees are available at universities and vocational schools.
Applicants interested in participating in an online radiology program will be required to submit a high school diploma or its GED equivalent. Some programs may also require that a placement exam be taken prior to enrollment. Students will take a total of 54 to 60 credit hours over the course of two years in order to graduate with their online degree.
Students in an online associate degree program in radiology can expect to take courses like radiographic procedures, radiological pathology, patient care in radiologic technology, cross-sectional anatomy, medical terminology, and radiological positioning. These programs will also often provide students with experience performing x-rays and producing other medical images.
Online Bachelor's Degrees in Radiology
An online bachelor's degree in radiology is a great choice for individuals hoping to hold managerial positions in medical imaging, patient care, and research. This degree level can be pursued at both universities and vocational schools.
Students can graduate with their online bachelor's degree in radiology in four years, although students enrolled in a bachelor's degree completion program following an associate degree may be able to graduate in two years. Depending on the nature of the program, required credit hours vary from 60 to 134. For those who are entering an online bachelor's program directly from high school, a high school diploma or GED is required. If the applicant is entering a degree completion program, a certificate or associate degree in radiology must be previously obtained. Some schools will also require their completion program applicants to already be certified by and in good standing with the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.
Students enrolled in an online bachelor's program can expect to take classes in the sciences like anatomy, physiology, and biology. In addition to these courses, radiology students at the bachelor's level will most likely take a combination of classes that includes patient professional interaction, radiographic technique, physics of radiation protection, procedures in imaging, clinical training, anatomy, physiology and radiation biology. Coursework may include clinical lab work or an equivalent. Most schools and programs also have internship opportunities available.
Students may also be able to select a concentration within the bachelor's program, such as computed tomography (CT), a technology used to detect cancers, or MRI technology. These concentrations will prepare students to take the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) CT certification exam and MRI certification exam, respectively.
Online Master's Degrees in Radiology
Graduates interested in widening their career options may be interested in pursuing an online master's degree in radiology. These programs can be found at universities as well as at certain vocational schools.
A bachelor's degree in radiology or a similar field of study is necessary for application to a master's program. Previous work experience within a healthcare facility is also required; three years of experience is the minimum requirement for most programs. Depending on the degree program, participants may be able to graduate with their degree in one to two years, after completion of 30 to 33 credit hours.
Online radiology master's programs will include classes such as healthcare law and ethics, health physics, patient assessment, imaging sciences, and seminars. Internships are also readily available through most master's programs.
Graduates of an online master's program in radiology may find employment as radiologist assistants, where they will work closely with physicians and patients, perform radiology procedures, and make initial interpretations of diagnostic scans.
Online Certificates in Radiology
Online certificate programs in radiology are designed for those who have already earned a postsecondary degree in the field. There are typically two types of online certificate tracks: primary pathway certificates and post-primary path certificates. The primary pathway is a general certificate for students who are interested in getting started in radiology by enhancing their skills and broad knowledge. The post-primary path certificate gives students the option of choosing a more specialized radiology pathway such as nuclear medicine, sonography, radiation therapy, or magnetic resonance imaging.
Online certificate programs can be completed in six to 18 months and are designed to be flexible enough so that the professional's work schedule is uninterrupted. Students will take classes like image assessment, body positioning, radiation protection, and image production. Applicants can enroll in certificate programs at universities or vocational schools.
The Importance of an Accredited Online Radiology Degree
Accreditation is an important qualification for all future college students to consider before committing to any online school or program. The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) is the main accrediting body for radiology programs, while the American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists (ARMRIT) accredits MRI programs. These accreditation organizations check that schools teach to standards that will ensure the quality and safety of patient care. Students who have plans to earn their graduate degree at a different school than the institution previously attended will also want to pursue an accredited undergraduate degree, as this will make the application and acceptance process much simpler. Furthermore, many employers will only hire graduates with an accredited educational background, as they want the confidence that their employees have received a quality education.
Careers in Radiology
There are numerous different job titles and specialties within the field of radiology. After graduating with a two to four year degree, an aspiring technologist may need to become certified, depending on their state regulations, before starting work as a professional.
- Radiology Technologist: Radiology technologists take diagnostic medical images or x-rays for the physician to analyze and interpret. They must be well trained in human anatomy in order to get precise and accurate images for review. Their responsiblities also often include maintaining complex radiology equipment and managing patient records.
- MRI Technologist: MRI technologists perform many of the same duties as radiology technologists, but they specialize in performing MRIs and may also work with a physician to interpret the results.
- Mammographer: Mammographers specialize in taking images of the breast in order to detect potentially cancerous tumors.
- Ultrasound Technician: Ultrasound technician is another notable career title within the field. Ultrasound technicians use sound waves to perform health screenings for pregnant women, as well as gynecologic, abdominal, and cardiac sonography on patients who may not be pregnant. Ultrasound technicians often walk their patients through the procedure, and thus should possess strong social skills. Most states do not require that ultrasound technicians be licensed in order to work, but employers may require their technicians to pass a certification exam conducted by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS).
Frequently Asked Questions About Radiology Degrees
What does a radiologist do?
Radiologists use medical imaging procedures, such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and ultrasounds to diagnose and treat injuries and diseases. Because radiologists are medical doctors, they require at least 13 years of education and training, including medical school, a four-year residency, and a one- or two-year fellowship. They are also required to meet continuing education requirements to maintain certification. Most radiologists specialize in a specific area, such as radiation oncology, pediatric radiology, or interventional radiology.
How much can I earn as a radiologist?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, board-certified radiologists, who are medical doctors, earn more than $200,000 per year. Other careers in the field of radiology include radiologic technologists, who have a median annual income of $60,510, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technologists, who have a median annual income of $73,410.
Do I need a degree for a career in radiology?
Graduates with associate degrees are eligible for several jobs in the field of radiology, including radiologic technician and MRI technician. However, a bachelor's or master's degree is usually required for the higher-paying opportunities and management positions. To become a radiologist, a student must go through the same level of training as a medical doctor.
- Online Bachelor's Degree Completion Program. Mizzou Online. Accessed August 24, 2016. http://online.missouri.edu/degreeprograms/healthprofessions/radiography.aspx.
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- Radiologic Technologist. Baptist Health Science School of Health Professionals. Accessed August 24, 2016. http://www.bshp.edu/future-students/programs/associates/radiologic-technologist.
- Technology AAS Degree. The College of Health Professionals. Accessed August 24, 2016. http://www.chcp.edu/degrees-certificates/online/radiologic-technology-aas-completion-program.