Radiation therapists are medical professionals who use high-energy radiation to administer treatment for cancer. They work on an oncology team, which is a group of professionals dedicated to treating cancer-related illnesses and diseases. As a part of this team, the radiation therapist is responsible for administrating the prescribed treatment and keeping an accurate record of it. The four primary classes of radiation therapy jobs are each dependent on education and experience. They include assistant radiation therapy technologists, senior radiation therapy technologists, associate radiation therapy technologists, and chief radiation therapy technologists.
Only radiation therapy technologists must perform duties under the strict supervision of a senior technologist. Obtaining this entry-level position requires completing a one-year certificate program or two-year associate program in radiology. Individuals interested in career advancement should opt for the two-year option, though the best bet is to pursue a full four-year bachelor degree.
Unlike assistant technologists, senior radiation therapy technologists can work without supervision. A senior technologist is tasked with leading a team of assistant technologists by advising and directing their work. Senior technologists also investigate problems, recommend amiable solutions, and ensure broken equipment is fixed. Such radiation therapy jobs require an associate degree, a license, and between one to two years of field experience, depending on the region.
Associate radiation therapy technologists are essentially managers. Though they may perform some actual radiation duties from time to time, they primarily assist the chief technologist with managing multiple teams of senior and assistant technologists. These radiation therapy jobs are more limited and primarily found at larger hospitals that have associate and chief technologists. The education requirements are the same, and at least three total years of industry experience is also needed.
A chief radiation therapy technologist manages all the radiation therapists at a large medical hospital campus. This includes hiring, training, scheduling, coaching, evaluating, and disciplining subordinate therapists. The chief technologist must also ensure that everyone is adhering to the correct safety regulations and quality standards. This is an extremely competitive field that pays well and requires at least four years of field experience, though most chiefs have anywhere between 10 and 20 years of experience.
Most people interested in radiation therapy jobs will inevitably start as an assistant. Those with a four-year degree, certification, and internship experience may be able to enter the industry at the senior level. Regardless, anyone can eventually rise up to an associate or chief through hard work, dedication, and patience.