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Radiation Therapists


Schools and Education

What's Needed:

  • Studies range from one-year certificate programs to bachelor's degrees.
  • Radiation therapists must complete an accredited radiation therapy program that consists of classroom and clinical components.
  • Programs are offered by community colleges four-year schools and hospitals and generally require a high school diploma for admission.

What you study:

Study topics include:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Physics
  • Radiobiology
  • Medical terminology
  • Medical ethics
  • Dosimetry
  • Radiation therapy principles
  • Treatment procedures

What courses you'll take

Below are examples of courses that you'll likely take as a radiation therapy student.

Introduction to Radiation TherapyGivers a primer that broadly overviews the radiation therapy field including: radiation basics; health safety; radiation equipment; tumor pathology; types of calculations used for treatments; professional roles and responsibilities; ethics; law; related medical terms; and history of the profession.Give students a starting point understanding of the field to apply in further studies.
Radiation Therapy PhysicsReviews theories of physics as related to the field including: units of measurement; atomic structure; radiation properties; electrostatics; magnetism; electrodynamics; rectification; x-ray production; and ionizing radiation. Also presents the principles behind x-ray generating equipment. More advanced coursework can include properties of photon and electron beams electron beam therapy and implant dosimetry.Teach students the core science behind the equipment and treatments used in radiation therapy.
Clinical AnatomyReviews the anatomy and physiology of the human body particularly as related to radiation treatments. Subjects include anatomy of the systems for: skeletons; circulation; muscles; nerves; respiration; digestion; reproduction; and hormones. Cells tissues and organs are also covered.Provide a thorough understanding of human anatomy as related to radiation therapy treatments.
Radiological Science and Medical ImagingCovers how radiation is produced and its interaction with physical materials. Reviews practices for protecting workers and patients from exposure. Overviews principles of x-ray equipment images creation and processing of radiographs.Give students a detailed understanding of the scientific and technological principles behind the radiographic procedures used in radiation treatments.
Patient Care in Radiation OncologySpotlights nursing concepts related to cancer patients including: cancer as a chronic condition; multidisciplinary approaches to caring for cancer patients; psychological and social aspects of cancer; examinations during and after treatments; emergencies; chemotherapy and nutritional implications in cancer treatments.Ready students to care for their patients beyond the actual radiation treatment procedures.
Clinical Simulation LabGives practice of techniques in a laboratory setting using demonstrations and hands-on participation in simulations by students. Practice includes immobilization positioning and treatment applications. Setting up patients for treatments is emphasized.Reinforce classroom teachings in simulated settings and ready students for clinical rotations.
Clinical PracticeTypically spanning several segments clinical practice takes place in clinical facilities and teaches concepts of teamwork patient-centered practice and professional development. Students gain familiarity with equipment and direct patient care.Fully prepare students for full-time positions as radiation therapists through hands-on practice with actual patients in supervised clinical facilities.

Video Overview

Quickly overviews the work of a radiation therapist. Produced for the US Dept. of Labor.

Certifications and Licensing

Licensing of radiation therapists occurs at the state level and regulations vary. Most states require licensure and stipulate national certification as a prerequisite. Graduates of accredited training programs can sit for the radiation therapy certification exam administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. Successful candidates earn the credential R.T.(T).

Job Flexibility

Full-time versus part-time:

Most radiation therapists work regular hours on a full-time basis. Some work evenings and weekends in facilities offering treatment during those times.

Work location:

Most radiation therapists work in hospitals cancer centers and other facilities where cancer is treated.

Recommended Websites

  • U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook ? The site provides an objective snapshot of the radiation therapy profession. In clear language it explains the major duties qualifications and job outlook. To deepen your understanding also consider researching sites that represent the field.
  • American Society of Radiologic Technologists ? The ASRT is the primary professional association for radiation therapists and others in radiologic technology. The site has a career section that discusses professional options in a thought-provoking manner. You can get a valuable sense of the field's limitations as well as its opportunities.
  • The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology ? JRCERT grants accreditation to radiation therapy and other radiologic technology programs. The site lets you easily search for accredited programs in radiation therapy and related disciplines.
  • American Registry of Radiologic Technologists ? The ARRT credentials radiologic technologists by exam and provides the continuing education necessary to maintain registered status. The site's section for students and educators explains credentialing requirements procedures and options.
  • Health Professions Network ? The HPN is a collaborative of educational and professional healthcare organizations with an emphasis on allied health fields. The site has a section for students that looks at allied health careers from several perspectives. It also includes a careers section that describes the radiologic technologist field among many others.

Salaries by City

See typical salaries and ranges for this career below Shift click to sort by more than one column — for example first shift-click on state and then shift-click on salary to find best and worst salaries in each state.

StateCity / RegionTypical SalarySalary RangeJob Count% of All Jobs
ALBirmingham – Hoover$71590$50K – $93K600.01%
ALMobile$62250$50K – $98K300.02%
ARFort Smith$70920$53K – $95K400.03%
AZPhoenix – Mesa – Glendale$72890$50K – $110K4100.02%
CALos Angeles – Long Beach – Glendale (Metro Area)$89440$66K – $130K3700.01%
CAOakland – Fremont – Hayward (Metro Area)$101510$81K – $131KN/AN/A
CARiverside – San Bernardino – Ontario$86550$58K – $117K1800.02%
CASan Diego – Carlsbad – San Marcos$99730$68K – $131K1100.01%
CASan Francisco – San Mateo – Redwood City (Metro Area)$108820$71K – $141K700.01%
CASan Jose – Sunnyvale – Santa Clara$113090$90K – $143K1000.01%
CASanta Ana – Anaheim – Irvine (Metro Area)

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