Associates in Radiology Degrees & Schools Guide

Associates Degree in Radiology Career Options & Salary

Overview of an Associates in Radiology


Radiology is the field of medical diagnostic imaging such as x-rays and ultrasounds and is one of the few medical technician occupations you can enter with only an associate degree. Radiologic technicians are employed by a wide range of facilities such as hospitals, urgent care clinics, and doctors' offices where they provide a vital service to help medical professionals diagnose specific ailments.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the field of radiology is projected to grow at a 12% rate over the next decade, so there should be a stable and expanding job market when you graduate. Because radiology technology is constantly evolving, you should expect to continue your education periodically throughout your career as new innovations are developed.

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Healthcare Degrees & Career Paths


PROS

  • Radiology requires a minimal amount of education and you can enter the field with an associate degree.
  • Most positions have regular working hours and minimal overtime requirements so you will have a stable work schedule.
  • The field is expanding, so you should have job security once you graduate with your degree.
  • On a national average, those who hold an associate degree earn more than employees in the same position that have no degree.
  • According to the BLS, the median annual wage for the lowest 10% (generally representing those with the least education and experience) of radiologic technologists was $40,630 in May 2018, so you can expect a generous beginning wage after graduation.
  • If your high school grade point average (GPA) was less than stellar, you can use your associate degree courses to raise your GPA in order to qualify for entry into a bachelor’s degree program at a later date.

CONS

  • Because the majority of employers require past experience, you may have a hard time getting your first job after graduation. Most bachelor degree programs include an internship, which gives you valuable on the job experience.
  • You won't be able to advance much without a higher level of education, so an associate degree should be considered a stepping stone in your career plans.
  • You may not earn as much as a radiological technician with the same amount of experience who holds a bachelor degree.
  • You must work with the public and the patients you see will be sick or in pain.
  • Most states require licensure as well as national certification before you can legally work as a radiology technician.
  • Some advanced certifications require a bachelor's degree or higher before you will be allowed to sit for the certification exam.
  • You must be physically fit as this position often requires you to stand for extended periods of time.

Certificate vs. Associates


You can become a radiology technician through a certification program instead of earning an associate degree. The advantage is earning your certificate in a year or less, which is about half the time it takes to earn an associate degree. On the downside, a certification program will not include the core classes found in an associate degree program. That means that when you're ready to earn your bachelor degree you may find your credits will not transfer and it will take you longer to earn your higher degree.

If you are considering a certification program because you need to enter the workforce quickly, you should look for a program that will transfer credits to an associate or bachelor’s degree program so you save time on your long-term goals.

A certificate program should not be confused with certification; The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) offers a wide range of certification credentials to show proficiency in one or more specific areas of imaging technology. Your associate degree coursework will train you for the first credential exam that will allow you to apply for state licensure.

What Radiology Associate Degrees are Available?


Your radiology degree will most likely be an Associate of Science degree (AS) or Associate of Applied Science degree (AAS). The main difference between the two types of degrees is an applied science degree is geared towards entering the workforce upon graduation while a science degree is designed to transfer credits to a bachelor’s degree program.

If you decide to choose an applied science program you should first verify your program of choice will transfer to a higher degree if and when you decide to go back to school.

Here are some examples of the program titles you may find when choosing a college or university:

  • Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Radiologic Technology
  • Associate of Science (AS) in Radiologic Imaging
  • Associate Degree in Science with a major in Diagnostic Medical Imaging

Admission Requirements


Although each school sets its own admission requirements, as a rule of thumb the only requirement for an associate degree program is a high school diploma or GED. Because this is a science program, you may also need to have successfully completed specific high school science and math courses to qualify for admission.

Most schools will require you to complete an admission form, submit your high school transcripts, and pay a nominal processing fee as part of the admissions process. You can find the exact admission requirements on the website of each school you're considering for your degree program.

How long does it take to earn a Radiology Associates Degree?


An associate degree is considered a two-year degree in that it takes two years of full-time attendance to complete the approximately 60 credit hours required to graduate. If you are still in high school, you should take as many college credit classes as possible as you may complete one or more semesters of college before graduation.

You can also opt to use the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) to test out of specific subjects you may know well. CLEP offers 33 different exams and can shorten your degree time by a semester or more.

Many people who are already in the workforce are choosing to attend college part-time, which may make it take you longer than two years to graduate. You can estimate your graduation time by the number of credit hours you take each semester.

Potential Careers in Radiology with an Associates


Although your associate degree will train you for work as a radiologic technician you should plan to also earn certification in one or more specialty areas. The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) is the credentialing organization for this field and offers several certifications on the associate degree education level. Here's a look at some potential careers you can enter with your associate degree and a certification credential:

  • Radiologic Technician
    You’ll use x-rays as the primary diagnostic tool for injuries and diseases. These professionals may work in hospitals, clinics, and the offices of doctors and dentists to provide imaging as required to meet the needs of each patient.
    The average pay for a radiologic technologist is $49,800 per year.
  • Medical Sonographer
    These specialists use ultrasound imaging equipment to view internal aspects of the human body. A sonographer may also choose to specialize in one area of practice, such as obstetrics.
    The average pay for a sonographer is $58,800 per year.
  • Nuclear Medicine Technologist
    You’ll perform and analyze various nuclear medicine procedures, usually in a high tech, fast paced environment. This position requires continuing education to stay informed on new developments in the field.
    The average pay for a nuclear medicine technologist is $66,900 per year.
  • Radiation Therapist
    provide radiation therapy to cancer patients, usually in a hospital environment. A radiation therapist may also be charged with maintenance and troubleshooting of the equipment used for treatment.
    The average pay for a radiation therapist is $69,700 per year.

Options to Advance


You should plan to earn your bachelor’s or master’s degree as soon as possible in order to advance in the field of radiology. With a higher degree, combined with experience in the field, you can advance to positions such as supervisor, chief radiological technologist, and administrative positions.

A higher degree will also make you eligible to sit for a wider range of specialty certifications, so you can enter the field of ultrasounds, fluoroscopies, and computer tomography (CT technologist) as well as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology.

Higher administrative positions, research careers, and educator jobs will all require at least a master’s degree for eligibility.

Best Associate of Science in Radiology Programs


  • University of Akron
    Akron, Ohio

    The University of Akron program works in partnership with Mercy Medical Center to give hands-on experience as well as classroom courses. Acceptance to this program is limited due to a limited capacity for clinical positions. The program is designed to allow students to transfer credits to a bachelor’s program in a specialty area of radiology.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Radiologic Technology
  • Arizona Western College
    Yuma, Arizona

    This program prepares the student for job entry in the field of radiological technology, as well as the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification exam. Upon graduation, the student may sit for the national exam and can then pursue a career within the healthcare industry.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Applied Science in Radiologic Technology
  • University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
    Little Rock, Arkansas

    The University of Arkansas program combines clinical work with coursework for a well-rounded education in imaging. Graduates will be ready to test for national certification and the program is affiliated with several medical facilities for expanded clinical options.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Science in Radiologic Imaging
  • City College of San Francisco
    San Francisco, California

    City College prepares you for entry-level jobs within the field of radiology. Their focus includes preparation for national certification; the school has had a 100% passing rate on the national credential exam for over 15 years.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Science with a major in Diagnostic Medical Imaging
  • Community College of Denver - Lowry Campus
    Denver, Colorado

    Denver Community College offers a 22-month program that includes an internship so upon graduation you will have experience in the field. The school has two state-of-the-art labs with a full range of imaging equipment for hands-on practice.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Applied Science in Radiologic Technology

Traditional Schools Offering an AS in Radiology


  • Southeast Community College
    Lincoln, Nebraska

    At Southeast College, the online program offers an internship with affiliated medical facilities in your local area. Available in all states except California and Florida, students must have a C+ grade average in several prerequisite courses to qualify for admission.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Applied Science in Radiologic Technology
  • Rasmussen College
    Bloomington, Minnesota

    Rasmussen has a well-rounded program designed to fully prepare the student to sit for the ARRT exam after graduation. Although the program is online, it does offer hands-on experience with local program sponsors.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Science in Radiologic Technology
  • Keiser University
    Decatur, Georgia

    At Kaiser you'll develop communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills along with a solid knowledge base of imaging skills. The clinical portion of the program is taught at local facilities in many areas of the country. Graduates are ready to sit for the national exam and can apply for Florida State licensing.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Science in Radiologic Technology
  • Chesapeake College
    Wye Mills, Maryland

    At Chesapeake, the program is both intensive and full-time, including summers. Clinical placement is at local healthcare facilities, so enrollment in the program is limited. Graduates will be prepared to sit for the national credentialing exam as well as State of Maryland licensing.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Applied Science in Radiologic Technology
  • College of Health Care Professions
    Austin, Texas

    At College of Health Care Professions, the radiology program is designed to include those who have completed a certificate program and wish to earn their associate degree, so certificate credits are usually accepted. Completion of the 64-week program will prepare you for both national credentialing and Texas state licensure.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate Degree in Radiologic Technology