Radiologic Technologist Salaries and Job Prospects

X-ray Radiologic Technologists (Radiographers) position patients, inject contrast and create diagnostic images in x-ray radiography, and provide imaging during interventional minimally invasive and surgical procedures. X-ray rad techs in the United States have a median salary of $61,370 and the national average salary is $66,490.

Number of Radiologic Technologists in USAverage Hourly WageAverage Yearly SalaryExpected Growth
216,380$31.97$66,4909% Increase
X ray Tech salary 1

Radiologic technologists are in high demand these days, and for good reason. They image patients with x-rays or make other diagnostic images, and the Radiologists then diagnose medical conditions. But what kind of salary can you expect if you become a rad tech? And what are the job prospects like in this field? Read on to find out.

What are radiology jobs?

A radiologist’s jobs involves reading diagnostic medical images and there are some interventional radiologists who perform minimally invasive surgery. Physicians who pursue this career often are trained to read from multiple modalities including: radiography, ultrasound imaging, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and a computed tomography (CT) technique.

On the other hand when there are images needed, a professional radiologic technologist takes images of the organs within the body. Once an image is created the radiologists can use it for the diagnosis of diseases. It may also be possible to compare patients’ organs to those from a healthy organ. The referring physicians use these images and the radiology reports as a crucial part of their medical and treatment planning for their patients.

Radiology Technician vs Radiologic Technologist

If you are new to the field you maybe searching for different terms as you are more familiar with the term Radiology and the term Technician. Many of these terms are used interchangeably online including: Radiology Technician vs Radiology Technologist vs Radiologic Technician vs Radiologic Technologist vs Radiographer. These terms are often used interchangeably to refer to the same position. Over time the responsibilities have increased and the currently preferred title in the US for x-ray, CT and MRI is Radiologic Technologist.

The term Radiologic Technologists is given for those who have gone through significant training and understand x-ray physics along with patient anatomy and proper patient positioning.

DO NOT refer to a Radiologic technologist as a Radiography Technician or an other variant. Despite the fact that they both can be abbreviated as Rad Tech. Technologists studied long and hard to get earn that title so make sure you use the appropriate one.

Therefore we will be using the term Radiologic technologist and Rad Tech from here forward in this article and not any of these other variations.

In Europe and Asia the term Radiographer is used to describe the same position. This is actually a more straightforward title but since the information in this article is primarily from the United States we will not extensively use the term Radiographer.

To further complicate the naming MRI uses the title MRI technologists and ultrasound uses the title sonographer (in a similar manner to radiographer) and one who images the breast is a mammographer.

What is the average salary for radiologic technologists?

Radiologic technologists in the United States have a national average salary of $66,490. This is for x-ray and CT rad techs and excludes magnetic resonance imaging technologists (MRI technologists), cardiovascular technologists as well as stenographers. Those are additional positions which would require separate training. All of the salary information in this articles comes from searches of the BLS database.

What is the median radiologic technologist salary?

Radiologic technologists in the United States have a national median salary of $61,370. The median value is lower than the mean/average value. This means that there are some technologists who have salaries on the high end and these higher values, these higher salaries are raising the average salary.

This national median rad tech salary is higher than the national median salary for all workers in the US which is about $32,000 per year.

As you will see below there are some areas of the country that have a higher cost of living and those regions need to pay higher salaries to offset the costs for housing, groceries, etc. As with the average radiologic technologist salary this is for x-ray and CT rad techs and does not include magnetic resonance imaging technologists (MRI technologists), cardiovascular technologists or stenographers.

The highest paid states are California, Hawaii and Massachusetts; while the lowest paid states are Arkansas, Alabama and Mississippi.

What is the best state to work in as a radiologic technologist considering cost of living?

Choosing the best state to live in as a radiologic technologists can be tough. Every state has its pros and cons, but some are definitely better than others. Here we introduce a new metric that is the normalized salary to take into account that housing, food, etc are very different from one location to another.

Here we define a normalized salary metric that we have not presented this way on other online resources but we believe it is valuable to consider cost of living when comparing salary information.

The Normalized Mean Salary = Average Mean Salary / Cost of Living .

The Normalized Mean Salary IS NOT the actual money you are payed but rather represents ‘how far your money can go’ in this area of the country. The normalized mean salaries are closer together than the average salaries.

The order of the states in the normalized salary by the cost of living is different with Minnesota, Illinois and Washington State at the top of the list and New York, Washington DC and Hawaii at the bottom.

Obviously study the cities you are thinking of applying carefully to determine the cost of living in that city, but this state-wide data is interesting an for a general comparison of which is the best state to live in from a Rad Tech salary and cost of living condition.

Additionally, we have the complete table of all of the states in order for this normalized salary metric.

What education and degree do I need to become a radiologic technologist?

An associate’s degree, which is a two year terminal degree is all that is required to become a registered radiologic technologist.

There are a variety of other education programs which can also satisfy the requirements. It is also very common for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in order to become a radiologic technologist. This can be a good choice if you are unsure at the beginning of college and are considering multiple options, or if you want to complete the full undergraduate experience.

Obviously, if you go the associate degree route the time to complete your education will be less and consequently there you will be able to start working earlier and the total cost will likely be lower.

Finally, for those with a true passion for education and research in the field it is possible to earn a graduate degree such as M.S. or P.hD. studying a specific aspect as as Radiologic technologist.

From data sourced from the BLS and presented by Onet, the distribution breakdown of these options for Rad Techs in the field are: 63% associate’s degree, 24% bachelor’s degree, and 6% graduate degree.

Typically, if you start with an associate’s degree you will need to earn a bachelor’s degree before you can complete a graduate degree. This is something to consider as you plan your educational journey.

Rad Tech’s salary is fairly high for a position that you can achieve with only an associate degree. For perspective the jobs with the highest salary with only an associate’s degree are: air traffic controller with an average salary of about $124,000 and a computer programer with a national average salary of about $82,000. Those are jobs to consider as well if you are looking for a two year education really like spatial reasoning or telling computers what to do.

How to become a registered radiologic technologist?

Radiologic technologists play an important role in diagnosing and treating medical conditions. Many people may wonder if certification is required for radiologic technologists.

The registration requirements are specific to the given state in which you are employed. The ASRT has a very useful list of state registration requirements that you can refer to.

The ARRT (American Association of Radiologic Technologists) is the defacto standard for certification of technologists. The american registry is maintained by the ARRT and more than 330,000 technologists have been certified by the ARRT. The ARRT offers certification in each of the major modalities including: X-ray, CT, and MRI for technologists practicing in the United States.

The ARRT certification also requires that you pass a written exam which contains information on all of physics, positioning and safety considerations for each of the modalities. Here at How Radiology Works we have many articles covering what students have told us are the most challenging subjects on the ARRT exam.

After passing the exam and completing the certification and registration procedure you become a Registered Technologist (R.T.). Once you become an R.T. make sure to include this in your resume and in the headline of your LinkedIn page and software you use for job alerts.

What are career advancement options as a Radiologic Technologist?

The most frequent place to start in the field is to become a certified x ray technologists. From their it is possible to cross train into CT, mammography or become a sonographer or MRI technologists, or even consider becoming as a radiation therapist.

The ASRT career pathways survery indicated that 58% of x-ray techs do not have prior healthcare experience, whereas for sonographers and MRI technologists 92% had prior healthcare experience [although it is not strictly required].

When polled 85% of the survey respondents at the How Radiology Works community on Youtube recommended to go into X-ray first and then specialized in MRI or ultrasound.

If you have extensive medical experience you may also consider going straight to MRI or being an ultrasound stenographer, but it is more common to go through x-ray school first.

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What factors affect a Radiologic Technologist’s salary?

Geography, level of training and on the job experience may have an influence on a rad tech’s salary. Successful careers come from a good match for your skills and the needs of an imaging department. Our advice is to study up and make yourself invaluable within your department. Your hard work studying, asking questions and learning how to best position the patients and how to acquire images with the best technical parameters will pay off.

Radiologic technologist have the potential to cross train and learn how to become a CT technologist, MRI technologist, ultrasound sonographer or a radiation therapy technologist.

These positions also typically have an increase in salary compared with being an x-ray technologist.

How do job prospects look for radiologic technologists?

X-ray imaging plays a vital role in today’s healthcare system and it is likely to continue as the population continues to age in the United States. Predications are that the job creation rate for radiologic technologists will increase 9% according to the Bureau of Labor statistics from 2020 to 2030.

This is slightly more than the annual growth for all jobs in America. As baby boomers get older they are accessing more health services. This is why job prospects are good for those who can create images of these patients.

As a medical imaging professional when I am at national meetings such as the RSNA, SAR and ASNR I frequently hear of hospitals that have open positions for x-ray technologists.

Where do Radiologic technologists work?

The work environment for Rad techs can vary including: hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, outpatient care centers and other similar jobs. Techs may have have other employers such as in industry, and research laboratories. In this table we provide the 2021 BLS data on the career locations for Rad Techs.

IndustryNumber of JobsAverage Salary
Physician Offices42,30059,310
Medical / Diagnostic Labs15,66066,370
Outpatient Center15,26077,580
Federal Jobs5,93073,990

You can see that the most technologists work in hospitals but there are lots of other options with similar imaging equipment as well if the hospital environment isn’t your thing.

Which employers are the highest paying for Radiologic technologists?

The highest salary positions for Rad Techs include research and development, product managment and working at an outpatient care centers. Here are the top 5 positions along with their mean national from 2021.

IndustryNumber of JobsAverage Salary
Research and Development20078,990
Management / ConsultingNA78,250
Outpatient Center15,26077,580
Office Administrative Services43075,630
Federal Jobs5,93073,990

Are Radiologic technologists in demand?

The wage information in this post is from a huge survey of technologists in the United States through the Bureau of Labor statistics. Here at How Radiology Works we have also been observing in discussions with Radiologists, Technologists (Radiographers) and Administrators that many hospitals, and labs are currently hiring Radiologic technologists.

In a survey conducted of 25 members of our How Radiology Works YouTube community in May 2022 indicated that the majority of these members are at facilities that are currently hiring.

  • 60 % Yes their facility is currently hiring
  • 24 % No their facility is not currently hiring.
  • 16% No their facility is not currently hiring but they should be.
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What cities have the highest salaries for radiologic technologists?

Do you want to know where the best place is to work as a rad tech? According to recent studies, there are several cities that offer high salaries and great benefits for this medical profession.

Here’s a list of the top 10 best paying cities for radiologic technologists. The major cities and metropolitan areas that pay the highest salaries to radiologic technologists are all in California and are: Vallejo, San Jose, Stocktown and Santa Rosa San Diego. As expected these are cities that have a high cost of living and therefore the salaries need to be higher in order to offset the cost of living.

One nice aspect of being a Radiographer/Rad Tech is that there are positions throughout the country and that you have some flexibility in your location.

Metropolitan AreaNumber of Rad TechsAverage Salary
Vallejo-Fairfield (CA)127127,890
San Jose/ Sunnyvale/ Santa Clara (CA)930118,480
San Fransisco/Oakland/Hayward (CA)2,490118,100
Santa Rosa (CA)210112,270
Sacramento/Roseville/Arden/Arcade (CA)1150107,450
Stockton/Lodi (CA)260101,350
Modesto (CA)250100,340
Salinas (CA)15096,930
Santa Cruz/Watsonville (CA)12094,660
Redding (CA)11093,400

What cities have the most jobs for Radiologic technologists?

According to recent data, the cities with the most jobs for rad techs are New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia. So if you’re looking for your next career move, these are some great places to start your search.

Here is a list of the top 10 cities with the most jobs for Radiologic technologists:

Metropolitan AreaNumber of Rad TechsAverage Salary
New York/ Newark / Jersey City (NY/NJ/PA)15,05080,390
Los Angles / Long Beam / Anaheim (CA)659085,070
Chicago / Naperville / Elgin (IL)638069,190
Philadelphia / Camden / Willmington (PA)483067,830
Houston / Woodlands / Sugar Land (TX)419065,700
Dallas / Fort Worth / Arlington (TX)411065,970
Boston / Cambridge / Nashua (MA/NH)403080,450
Miami / Fort Lauderdale / West Palm Beach (FL)352060,540
Phoenix / Mesa / Scottsdale (AZ)323066,800
Washington / Arlington/ Alexandria (DC/VA/MD/WV)307076,900

You will see that these are all large areas that have relatively high populations which lead to the large number of Radiographers in these cities. If you are researching any specific location and considering a job move make sure to take the cost of living difference into account.

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