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What Does a Radiation Protection Technician Do?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2016
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A radiation protection technician monitors radiation levels and addresses concerns about exposure. People in this field can work in any setting where radiologically active material is handled, such as health care settings, research facilities, and nuclear power plants. Some may also work in natural environments where radiation is present due to contamination or natural circumstances. As their job title implies, radiation protection technicians work to control exposure to keep people, animals, and the natural environment safe.

Part of this work involves the assessment of radiological materials. Radiation protection technicians can test samples, including air and water, to determine what kinds and concentrations of material are present. The radiation protection technician can determine if levels are high enough to pose a risk, and what kinds of measures need to be taken to address them. As an adjunct to this work, the technician cleans, maintains, and services equipment used in radiation monitoring and testing.

In addition to testing materials, a radiation protection technician can also handle radiation badges used for safety in nuclear facilities. Personnel in such facilities need to wear badges designed to monitor their exposure levels. The technician periodically tests the badges to identify employees at risk of health complications. Technicians can also offer training on the equipment, guidance on protective garments, and other safety instruction to personnel at a facility to reduce their exposure levels and keep them as safe as possible.

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Radiation protection technicians can participate in the design and implementation of safety systems. These can include barrier walls to prevent radiation leaks, protocols for handling contamination, and recommendations for protective gear in radioactive environments. This may require cooperation and consultation with engineers, health care providers, and other interested parties with input into the protection offered at a facility. In the case of environmental contamination, this process can include discussions about cleanup and containment with engineers who may respond to the situation, as well as monitoring at a site during cleanup to catch dangerously high radiation levels.

To become a radiation protection technician, a high school diploma and at least two years of experience are usually necessary. Some colleges offer training programs for radiation technicians and technologists. It is also possible to join a professional organization, usually by taking an examination to determine skill level and competency. Such organizations provide continuing education opportunities like trade journals and conferences to allow a radiation protection technician to develop and refine job skills.

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