How Do I Become a CT Scan Technician?

A CT scan technician is a healthcare worker trained in the use of computerized tomography (CT) to obtain radiographic images. Increasingly, CT scans are used as a valuable diagnostic tool in place of standard X-rays due to the clarity and various viewing possibilities of the images they provide. Radiographic or X-ray technicians are entry-level positions for radiologists with the least amount of educational preparation. Despite this designation, there are still significant accomplishments to achieve in order to become a CT scan technician and work in the field. In the US, both educational prerequisites and state licensure are required for this position.

Completion of a high school diploma or a general educational development (GED) examination is the first step to become a CT scan technician. Most students then study to become a radiology technician through a vocational training program, a hospital-related program or a community college. While classes can still be taken for a simple certification as a radiographic technician, most career entrants now obtain at least an associate's degree in radiology in order to be more competitive as job applicants. The more general certification as a radiographic technician is necessary before the specialization and study necessary to become a CT scan technician. A CT radiographic specialization also increases a graduate's opportunities in the job market.

After successful completion of the classes necessary for certification or an associate's degree, there are still some other requirements to complete in order to become a CT scan technician. All states in the US require licensure by successful examination or additional processes. Further, most employers require radiology technicians and technologists to be certified in their field in order to protect patients from overexposure to radiation. Certifications and licenses are renewed every two years and most states require completion of continuing education (CE) in order to keep up with advances.

There are actually fewer CT scan technicians than there are CT scan technologists. This is because a CT scan technician's foray into specialization often requires additional study, education and certification that promote the healthcare worker from a technician to a technologist. Both CT scan technicians and technologists are responsible for positioning patients within the CT scan machine and operating the computerized system to adequately visualize the area under study. Technologists, however, also administer intravenous contrast medication as ordered by the supervising radiologist. In the US, two national organizations — the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists® (ARRT®) and the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) — offer testing, credentialing and membership to CT scan technologists.

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