There are many x-ray technician programs out there – a quick google search will turn up hundreds of options. So how do you know where to go? There may be some obvious parameters – such as location or cost – while other factors – such as program length, schedule, or list of courses – will take more research. But if you can narrow it down to a particular type of program, and then find schools in your desired area that are accredited, you will find yourself with a much shorter list from which to make a decision.
1. Decide What Type of Program You Want to Attend
There are three main types of programs for x-ray technicians – certificate, associate’s, and bachelor’s. The first step in finding the appropriate program for you is to decide what type of program you want to attend. There are pros and cons of each. For instance, a certificate program will allow you to graduate in the shortest period of time, but you won’t get the same comprehensive base of knowledge for your future career. And on the other end of the spectrum, a bachelor’s degree program will take you the longest to complete (typically four years) but will educate you in a variety of health- and non-health-related subjects to prepare you for the working world. Some schools offer detail course descriptions and class schedules online so you can get an idea of exactly what to expect out of different programs. Once you have made a decision you can start researching institutions that offer degrees of your desired type.
2. Research Locations
Where do you want to go to school? There are a number of programs in the United States, so you should be able to find a nearby school regardless of your location, although in rural areas your commute will, understandably, be longer. If you do live too far away from a school for commute to be possible, you can try to find a program that offers classes online. Unfortunately, however, only the didactic portion of the curriculum can be offered online – clinical rotations must, for obvious reasons, be carried out in person. You can always contact an academic advisor and see if you can work out a way to complete your academic course load first and then relocate temporarily or travel minimally to complete the remaining degree requirements. Peoples’ location is typically fixed if they have a job or familial obligations where they currently reside. On the other hand, you may have no commitments to your current geography, in which case you could always relocate for the purposes of school. This may be more likely if you are particularly drawn to an institution, for reasons of special courses, campus resources, or reputation, that is not already in your proximity.
3. Consider Accreditation
It is important that you attend an institution that has been fully accredited by a learning commission, and that said commission is supported by the U.S. Department of Education. An accreditation signals to students that the curriculum is valid and meets certain educational standards. In other words, you can trust that your school, if accredited, will accurately and wholly prepare you for a future career as a radiologic technologist. If you choose to go to a non-accredited institution, you cannot be guaranteed that such standards are met and thus you enroll “at your own risk.”