To aid in the fight against diseases like cancer, radiation is part of the prescribed treatment. A radiation therapist is trained to strategically administer the disease-fighting radiation. When you’re a radiation therapist, you use equipment to deliver radiation to help fight or shrink the tumors.
Your day-to-day work will involve:
- Talking to the patient about their treatment plan, and answering the many questions they are bound to have
- Going through standard protocol to protect you and the patient from any rogue radiation
- Pinpointing the exact part of the body needing the radiation
- Using the proper machine to administer radiation
- Making sure the patient isn’t having unforeseen negative reactions to the treatment
- Keeping records of all patients and treatment
How to Become a Radiation Therapist
Radiation therapists work very closely with their patients. You’ll need to be compassionate and have good people skills. Being detail oriented is important, as well. Most employers look for their potential hires to have, at minimum, an associate’s degree. There are over 110 accredited radiation therapy programs in the United States.
What you need to do to become a radiation therapist:
- Get your high school diploma or GED.
- Enroll in a program that’s accredited by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).
- Choose a certification program, or get an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.
- LIcensing or certification is required in most states.
- You need either a CPR or BLS certification.
Another certification will allow you to become a medical dosimetrist, which will make you responsible for dosing out the correct amount of medications to treat people on radiation.
Salary and Job Outlook
When you first start out as a radiation therapist, you’ll earn an annual salary of more than $55K. The median annual salary goes up to over $80K, and the top ten percent earn more than $123K. With an associate’s degree. You’ll find the higher paying jobs through hospitals, with the median salary ranging over $81K. The lowest paying jobs will be at physician offices, at $77K. Which, really, isn’t bad at all.
Expect a lot of competition for the open positions, even though employment growth is expected to be much faster than most other professions. There will be 2,400 new jobs opening through 2026. To have a competitive edge over other applicants, job experience, more education, and more certifications will help.