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How to become a radiographer

How to become a radiographer Australia
Photo: How to become a radiographer
If you’re looking for a health career that puts you at the centre of the diagnostic process, while gaining cutting-edge knowledge in the latest medical technologies, then becoming a radiographer might be the career for you.

What is a radiographer?

Radiographers, otherwise known as Medical Imaging Technologists, are allied health professionals who take x-rays and other medical images, which doctors view in order to diagnose diseases and injuries.

At the heart of modern medicine, radiographers are integral to accurate medical diagnosis, and in turn, the long-term health outcomes for patients.

As part of a diagnostic health team, radiographers are highly skilled individuals who operate extremely advanced technical equipment such as MRI scanners (magnetic resonance imaging), CT (computed tomography) and mobile X-ray machinery.
A career that is challenging and diverse by nature, many radiographers undertake additional training in specialist fields such as:

• Mobile radiography – for people who are too ill to attend an X-ray department
• Magnetic resonance imaging – 3D imagery which is powered by a huge magnet
• Angiography – taking images of the heart and blood vessels
• Trauma radiography – somewhat tricky examinations on injured patients
• Computed tomography – 3D X-ray imaging test
• Fluoroscopy – An X-ray which looks internally into the body and projects moving images on to a screen
• Operating theatre – helping surgeons during an operation with specialist X-ray equipment

How to become a radiographer

Becoming a Radiographer requires tertiary qualification in medical radiation science, either at undergraduate or graduate level.

If you're applying for a 3 or 4-year undergraduate medical radiation sciences degree then you will need:

• Year 12 certificate or equivalent
• To meet additional criteria such as criminal, immunisation status and working with children checks

If you're applying for graduate level then you'll need:

• A Bachelor degree in medical imaging science or a health science discipline. For some courses you may need to hold a first or second class honours.

After graduating, medical imaging technologists will undertake one year of paid supervised practice, working within an accredited clinical radiology department, which is managed by the (AIR) Australian Institute of Radiography, and may apply to the relevant board of registration (depending on the State ) to be authorised to practice.

What personal characteristics does a radiographer need?

A person who is considering becoming a radiographer should be:

• Compassionate, with strong interpersonal skills
• Equipped with a technological and scientific background
• Accurate and pay close attention to detail
• Able to calculate timings of procedures including exposure to radiation
• Skilled at placing patients and equipment in the correct position to ensure their safety
• Well versed at explaining procedures to patients to put them at ease
• Competent at developing and checking X-ray films

Despite being a highly technical position, radiographers should enjoy working with people and be able to focus their attentions on the care and welfare of patients to create a positive experience.

A radiographer also needs to have a thorough understanding of the body's structure and the effects of injury and disease on the body when taking X-ray images.

They won’t need to interpret imaging though – that’s the role of the radiologist, who will have an advanced medical degree.

Radiologists rely heavily on radiographers, and together they will have a close working relationship.

Career diversity

Radiography offers immense variety and scope.

Besides performing X-rays or specialist imagery, there are also opportunities to progress to other areas such as:

• Clinical leadership – supervisory roles
• Education – lecturing
• Research
• Corporate sales
• Sonography (diagnostic ultrasound procedures)
• Setting up your own business in conjunction with a radiologist

Radiographer salary

Salaries vary according to where you work and in which territory but you can expect to start off at around $50,000 per year, rising to around $100,000 at a senior level.

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Nicole Madigan

Nicole Madigan is a widely published journalist with more than 15 years experience in the media and communications industries.

Specialising in health, business, property and finance, Nicole writes regularly for numerous high-profile newspapers, magazines and online publications.

Before moving into freelance writing almost a decade ago, Nicole was an on-air reporter with Channel Nine and a newspaper journalist with News Limited.

Nicole is also the Director of content and communications agency Stella Communications (www.stellacomms.com) and a children's author.