How to Become an X-Ray Technician 

The complete guide to campus and online x-ray technician schools and programs.

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Accredited Online X-Ray Technician Programs

X-Ray technician programs range from 1-year certificates, 2 year associates, 4 year bachelors, and 1-2 year masters degree programs.  For those students interested in pursuing an online x-ray technician related degree program, the following schools offer such options:

Ultimate Medical Academy

Programs Available:

  • AS in Healthcare Management
  • AS in Healthcare Tech & Systems
  • AS in Healthcare IT

X-Ray Tech Degree Facts



Degree Levels:

Associates, Bachelors, Masters, & Certificate

Avg. Salary:


Rasmussen College

Programs Available:

  • AS in Medical Lab Technician
  • AS in Surgical Technologist

ECPI University

Programs Available:

  • AS in Medical Radiography

Purdue University Global

Programs Available:

  • Certificate in Medical Assisting

Miller-Motte College

Programs Available:

  • AAS in Surgical Technology

McCann School of Business & Technology

Programs Available:

  • AOS in Surgical Technology

McCann School of Business & Technology

Programs Available:

  • Certificate in Surgical Technology

Branford Hall Career Institute

Programs Available:

  • Associates in Surgical Technology

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X-Ray Technician Degree Types

Certified x-ray technicians can choose from degree programs at the certificate, associates, and bachelors degree levels, with the most common is an associates degree. Regardless of degree level, coursework typically consists of both classroom and laboratory (hands on) instruction, on subjects such as anatomy, patient positioning, managing radiation exposure and equipment, infection control, radiation pathology, and medical terminology. Click the links below to explore the details of the four levels of degree options: 

Types of Campus & Online X-Ray Technician Degrees



Learn about associates level degrees that prepare you to become an x-ray technician. More >>



Read curriculum and career information for bachelors x-ray tech programs.  More >>



Explore admissions, and career info for masters x-ray technician related programs.  More >>



See salary, career & admissions requirements for certificate x-ray technician programs.  More >>

Associates Degree Overview

An associates x-ray technician degree is offered in a few forms, the most common of which are an Associate of Science (AS) or Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree. This is an entry level degree that prepares someone to enter the field of radiography and become an x-ray technician.

Program Requirements: An associates x-ray tech degree is an entry-level program that typically requires no previous work experience or education in the field, and typically requires a high school diploma or GED. Admissions requirements also include reviewing a student’s high school GPA, some require adequate pre-requisite high school or college level courses in science math and english. And some x-ray tech associates programs require national standardized testing results such as the SAT or ACT.

Associate Degree Facts

Time To Complete:

2 Years

Degree Types:

Assoc. of Science, Assoc. of Applied Science

Admission Req'ts:

GED or High School Diploma

Curriculum: An AS or AAS degree in radiologic technology typically consists of a relatively standard list of classroom and clinical course work. These include courses on radiographic procedures, radiographic safety, anatomy, biology, patient care, positioning and management, bio-chemistry, diagnostic concepts, and pathology among others.

Online Options: An increasing number of associates in radiographic technology programs offer online courses. These courses enable students the flexibility to complete coursework on their own schedule, which is often particularly appealing to working students and students who are parents.

Most associate x-ray tech degree programs (AS or AAS) require a clinical component, however, meaning that there are few if any completely online x-ray tech degree programs. Students can, however, complete most or all of their coursework online, while completing their clinical hours in-person. 

Associate Degree Common Career Paths

An associates degree in radiologic technology can lead to a wide array of careers. Most commonly, however, graduates are employed in full-time positions as a: 

  • radiographer, 
  • radiology technologist, 
  • x-ray technician, 
  • radiology technician, or 
  • x-ray technologist.

Bachelors Degree Overview

A bachelors level x-ray technician program is often called a bachelor’s degree in radiologic technology (RT) or a Bachelor’s of Science in Radiologic Technology (BSRT) degree. 

Program Requirements: The admissions process for bachelor’s level x-ray tech programs typically takes one of two forms, (1) a traditional four year degree program, or (2) a two year program for students who already have an associates degree.

To be admitted to a four-year degree program, prospective x-ray technicians must complete adequate pre-requisite science and math courses. Additionally, for most x-ray technician programs, applicants will need to complete a pre-admission test such as the ACT or SAT. Often, these bachelor’s level degree programs are competitive, and not all applicants will be admitted.

Bachelors Degree Facts

Time To Complete:

2 to 4 Years

Degree Types:

Bachelor of Science Radiologic Technology

Admission Req'ts:

High School Diploma (4 yr.), or Associates & RT Certification (2 yr.)

For students who already have an associates degree, a two year bachelor’s program in radiologic sciences may be an option. These universities accept transfer credits previously earned and apply them toward a student’s x-ray technician bachelor program. Often, these two-year bachelors x-ray tech programs require that the previous associates degree have been completed in radiologic sciences, and that the student have previously obtained RT certification.

Curriculum: Bachelors level degree programs typically prepare students in a wider range of radiographic equipment than would an associates program. This includes advanced technology such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and sonography equipment. Some programs also allow students the ability to specialize in a particular modality.

Online Options:

Online undergraduate degrees in radiologic technology range from fully online curriculum, to a blend of online learning and face-to-face clinical work. Typically, those which enable students to specialize in a specific modality (e.g. MRI or ultrasound) or which do not require that the student previously have an RT credential, have a significant in-person clinical component in addition to online coursework.

Bachelors Degree Common Career Paths

Graduates of a bachelors level radiologic technology program have a wide range of career options. The most common of which include: 

  • Radiologic Technologist
  • CT Technologist
  • MRI Technologist
  • Nuclear Medicine Technologist
  • Radiographer
  • Radiology Technologist (RT)
    • Radiology Technician
    • Sonographer
    • Ultrasound Technician
    • X-Ray Machine Operator
    • X-Ray Technician (X-Ray Tech)

    Masters Degree Overview

    Masters level x-ray technician degrees most typically prepare graduates to become radiologist assistants (RAs), radiology practitioner assistants (RPAs) or radiologist extenders. While other graduate level programs focus on healthcare administration and leadership, or with enable x-ray tech’s to themselves become professors or educators in the field. 

    Program Requirements: Masters level x-ray tech programs typically require foundational knowledge of radiologic technology. A completed bachelor’s degree is required, and often applicants must be credentialed by the ARRT or similar body in order to be admitted for a masters program. Additionally, many programs require previous work experience in the field, and a minimum undergraduate GPA to qualify for admission.

    Masters Degree Facts

    Time To Complete:

    1 to 2 Years

    Degree Types:

    Master of Science Radiologic Technology

    Admission Req'ts:

    Bachelors Degree & typically RT or ARRT credentialed.

    Curriculum: Unlike associates or bachelors level degree programs, where the curriculum is largely consistent across programs, the curriculum of masters level x-ray tech programs vary significantly depending on the degree specialization. Some common courses across a broad range of masters degree programs in the field, include: 

    • Healthcare Systems Structures
    • Healthcare Administration & Leadership
    • Healthcare Financial Management
    • Healthcare Accreditation and Quality Management
    • Healthcare Business Policy
    • Healthcare Fundamentals
    • Healthcare Ethics
    • Curriculum Development
    • Advanced Medical Terminology
    • Advanced Clinical Pharmacology
    • Advanced Image Analysis
    • Advanced Pathology
    • Radiologic Sciences Technology
    • Advanced Human Anatomy
    • Advanced Research Methods
    • Radiological Physics
    • Thesis

    Online Masters X-Ray Technician Degree Options:  Depending on the specific masters level degree focus, some colleges and universities offer 100% online masters x-ray technician related degrees. Whereas other masters degrees, because of their required clinical component, offer online coursework with an in-person clinical component. 

    Masters Degree Common Career Paths

    Graduates of a masters level x-ray technician program can find jobs across a wide array of careers ranging from clinical, to administrative, to educational. Some more common career paths include: 

    • Healthcare Administrator
    • Healthcare Manager
    • Radiography Professor / Instructor
    • Radiography Administrator
    • Radiologist Assistant
    • Radiologist Extender
    • Radiology Equipment Specialist

    Certificate Programs Overview

    Broadly speaking, there are two types of x-ray tech certificate programs. The first, called a foundational certificate program, is designed for students with no previous experience or education with radiography, but who already have an associates or bachelors degree. Obtaining a foundational x-ray tech certificate, provides the student with the education they need to pass their state licensing test or ARRT licensing test, where applicable. The second type of x-ray tech certificate program is designed for experienced x-ray technicians, and enables them to further their professional skills by focusing on a specific modality, type of equipment, or specific population (e.g. children or senior citizens). 

    Program Requirements: To be admitted into a foundational x-ray technician program, most colleges and universities require that the individual already have a high school diploma or GED. Some x-ray tech certificate programs require that the student have already completed foundational college level courses in math, and science before enrollment. For experienced x-ray technicians seeking a certificate program, typically ARRT or state licensure is required, along with having previously completed an accredited associates or bachelors degree.

    Certificate Program Facts

    Time To Complete:

    6 to 18 Months

    Degree Types:

    Certificate in Radiology, or Computed Tomography

    Admission Req'ts:

    HS Diploma (foundation), or Associates (adv.).

    Curriculum: The curriculum of x-ray tech certificate programs varies significantly, because some certificate programs are foundational in nature, whereas others provide advanced education for experienced x-ray technicians. Speaking broadly, however, certificate programs often include: 

    • Foundations of Radiology
    • Radiographic Exposure Safety
    • Anatomy
    • Medical Ethics

    • Patient Care and Positioning
    • Image Analysis
    • Digital Imaging Techniques
    • Radiographic Physics

    Online X-Ray Technician Certificate Options: Foundational online x-ray tech certificate programs often offer students the option to complete all or almost all of their coursework online. Most foundational certificate programs, however, require that clinical work be completed in-person. By contrast, advanced certificates for individuals who are already ARRT or state certified, are commonly 100% online, particularly when the certificates focus is on leadership and administration. 

    Certificate Common Career Paths

    Depending on whether the certificate sought is foundational or advanced, determines much of the career options available to x-ray tech certificate holders. Speaking broadly, however, certificate students may have careers as the following:

    • Radiologic Technologists,
    • X-Ray Technician
    • X-Ray Machine Operator, and
    • Radiology Technician

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    X-Ray Technician Salary & Job Information

    Salary Statistics:  X-ray technicians, or radiologic technologists, earned a median annual salary of $59,520. Hourly, that comes out to $29.44 per hour. The highest paid 10% of x-ray technicians earned over $99,180, whereas the lowest paid 10% earned $40,630. (source: - 2018) 

    Career Prospects: There are 241,700 x-ray technology, radiologic technologist and MRI technologist jobs in the US. The field is expected to grow by 13%, which is faster than average, over the next decade, and translates to an additional 30,300 jobs in the field. (source: - 2016)

    X-Ray Technician Salary Facts

    Median Salary:

    $59,520 per year

    Hourly Rate:

    $29.44 /hr.


    $99,180 - $40,630

    Job Growth (Proj.):

    13% Per Year

    Job Duties: At a high level, X-Ray Technicians perform imaging examinations on patients for diagnostic healthcare purposes. More specifically, an x-ray technician's job description might include: preparing a patient for x-rays by explaining the procedure, adjusting the x-ray equipment, shielding exposed areas of the patient, and positioning the patient. Due to the nature of the career, from long periods of standing on their feet, to having to maneuver patients, becoming an x-ray technician can be considered a physically demanding career.

    X-Ray Technician Career Information

    Education: Often referred to as radiologic technicians, x-ray technicians are typically required to have a high school diploma for an entry level position, and many employers may require an associate’s degree in radiologic technology, medical assisting or a related field. Higher levels of education and specialized certifications are typically required for leadership, teaching, and advanced equipment positions.

    For entry level positions, students should have an understanding of subjects such as; x-ray positioning, preventing radiation exposure, radiologic and other medical terminology, patient care and positioning, radiographic physics and biology. Additionally, many employers like to hire from x-ray technician degree programs which include clinical training opportunities, where students receive hands-on training under the supervision of experienced x-ray technicians.

    Licensing: X-ray technician licensing requirements vary by state. In most states, however, x-ray technicians, like other radiologic professionals, must be licensed by their state. To become a licensed x-ray technician, many states will require graduation from a training program accredited by the Joint Review Committee On Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). 

    Certification: The most common x-ray technician certification is the Registered Technologist (RT) credential, awarded by The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).  The overwhelming majority of states accept ARRT results for licensing purposes, whereas some states administer their own certification exam. AART certification requires the passage of a 220 question, 4 hour exam. 

    Continuing Education: To maintain your x-ray tech certification and licensing, most states and certifying bodies require the completion of semi-annual (every 2 years) continuing education hours or the completion of an exam.

    Advanced Certification: For x-ray technicians, career advancement opportunities typically require an advanced certification, typically from ARRT, in a radiologic technology specialty, such as radiologist assisting, or to specialize in specific diagnostic equipment such as a CT scanner, MRI machine or ultrasound. Generally speaking, these advanced radiologic tech certifications must be also maintained via semi-annual continuing education requirements.

    What X-Ray Tech's Say About Their Careers:


    Tommy Tucson, Arizona

    "I have been an X-ray tech for 28 years, 57 years old, and still love my profession. There is no perfect job, all have good and bad, ... I did not get into radiology to be rich, or have a 'comfy" schedule, but to serve those who were in pain, hurting, and sick, it's not about me, but helping others... "

    Fast_Spin_Echo,  Overland Park, Kansas

    "Where you ultimately end up depends entirely on you. I know RT's making very little money and I know RT's making $100K +. My first thought is you should spend a day at a Hospital and see what RT's really do day-to-day. Most RT programs require you do this anyway and I would encourage you to do so if you already haven't..."

    Jmina24 Beyonne, New Jersey

    "You will not be living paycheck to paycheck in the radiology field. You will be well paid. After X- Ray school... you can work in an urgent care, orthopedic office or a hospital (highly recommend)...Patients are first and foremost, treat them with kindness and respect...It’s always fun for me I love what I do and I am very passionate about it."

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