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How to become a radiographer

How to become a radiographer
Photo: How to become a radiographer
To become a radiographer you will need a tertiary qualification in medical radiation science, either at undergraduate or graduate level. 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. Having successfully completed this year, graduates will be granted a Validated Statement of Accreditation from AIR and may apply to the relevant board of registration (depending on the State ) to be authorised to practice. 

Looking for a highly skilled, rewarding and well-paid career? Then how about becoming a Radiographer?

If you're looking for a career which offers plenty of exciting job prospects, then you might like to consider a career in radiography. Radiographers are highly sought after in Australia as well as other countries such as New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.  As a radiographer, or medical imaging technologist as it is often called, you'll be operating machinery such as X-ray machines to take high-quality pictures or images which are used in the diagnosis and treatment of injury and disease. It's a very important part of medicine since a patient's diagnosis and subsequent treatment can often be dependent on the X-ray images that are produced.
What sort of skills and attributes does a person require?

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

What exactly does a radiographer do?

Radiographers are an important part of a diagnostic health team and as such 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. Their jobs are challenging and diverse and many radiographers train 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

Although a radiographer's job is highly technical they need to enjoy working with people and be able to focus their attentions on the care and welfare of patients to ensure their experience is a positive one. The job is demanding but also highly rewarding.

In addition, a radiographer 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. However, it isn't within their job role to interpret the X-ray images as this is done by a radiologist who will have a medical degree, have undertaken clinical training, and then specialised in imagery interpretation and writing diagnostic reports for referring doctors. They rely heavily on the radiographers, and together they will have a close working relationship.

So how do you become a radiographer?

To become a radiographer you will need a 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 to:

• Complete year 12 or equivalent
• Meet additional criteria such as criminal, immunisation status and working with children checks

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

• Be in possession of 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. Having successfully completed this year, graduates will be granted a Validated Statement of Accreditation from AIR and may apply to the relevant board of registration (depending on the State ) to be authorised to practice. 

What else can a radiographer do?

The great thing about radiography is the variety and scope that it offers. Besides performing X-rays or specialising in the fields mentioned above, 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


What about salaries?

Salaries vary according to where you work and in which territory but you can expect to start off at around $50,000 pa rising to $100,000 at a senior level. Taken across the whole of Australia, the average radiographer's salary is around $73,500 pa.


Conclusion

Working as a radiographer is highly skilled and rewarding career with plenty of patient contact. It also offers numerous benefits including excellent job prospects, diverse range of specialist areas, the use of cutting edge technology, on-going training, good opportunities to travel, flexible working (full time, part time and locum) and very good financial rewards.

Learn More

Click here to visit our Medical Imaging practice hub

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