2022 Guide: Online X Ray Technician Degree Programs

What Is an Online X-Ray Technician Program? 

If you’re intrigued by the idea of helping patients get the diagnosis and treatment they need, you should consider a career in radiology. Often known as x-ray technicians, people in this field use medical imaging tests via x-ray machines to examine bones, organs, and tissues. The resulting x-rays can help doctors diagnose patients and then create treatment plans for them, which means x-ray technicians are an important part of healthcare.

Before you start looking at the best online x-ray technician programs to apply for, you should learn more about what to expect from this career. For example, you’ll spend a lot of time preparing patients for their x-rays, ensuring they’re at the right height and angle to get the best images of the areas targeted by the x-ray machine. You’ll also need to keep them informed of what to do during the x-ray process, as they’ll likely have questions regarding the safety and accuracy of the x-ray machine. Finally, you’ll be expected to share the images with doctors, keep patient records, and maintain the equipment.

Like most healthcare fields, this industry is predicted to keep growing for the foreseeable future, making it likely that you can find steady work after completing one of the best online x-ray technician programs available. And even if you decide that this isn’t the career you want after you graduate from an x-ray technician program, you may be able to transition to a similar career, such as an MRI technologist. Either way, you’ll have the chance to help patients on their journey toward getting diagnosed and treated, making this a rewarding career to get into.

As you start looking at the best online x-ray technician programs, you might wonder if online school is right for you. This is an increasingly popular format for college programs, as students have found that online classes are much more flexible than on-campus programs that require them to do in-person learning on a regular basis. After all, online programs don’t usually require participation at a specific time, as students can watch recorded lectures and do the work any time of day. As long as they adhere to the class due dates, they can complete their work at night or on weekends, allowing them to keep their weekdays free for a full-time job. So if your current schedule won’t allow you to attend in-person classes on weekday mornings and afternoons, you should start looking for the best online x-ray technician programs to enroll in today. But first, you should get an idea of what to expect from these programs.

Why Choose an Online X-Ray Technician Degree?

Medical imaging is incredibly helpful in the diagnostic stage of healthcare, which means hospitals and doctor offices will likely always be in need of x-ray technicians. As a result, if you’re looking for a way to help patients of all ages in a job that’s in demand, you should look at the best online x-ray technician programs available to you.

Note that there are certain skills you should have if you want the best chances of succeeding in this career. Namely, you should have an interest in not only healthcare but also the use of advanced machinery to perform your job, as you’ll be using and maintaining an x-ray machine daily. Additionally, you should be detail-oriented, comfortable communicating with patients, and able to stand on your feet for hours at a time.

If you’re specifically interested in online x-ray technician programs, you’ll need a computer with an internet connection, as well as a quiet place where you can watch videos and complete your coursework. As long as you have the skills and equipment required to take x-ray technician classes, you should be set up to succeed in this field. Graduating from one of the best online x-ray technician programs is just what you need to start your career in medical imaging, allowing you to start helping people in as little as two years in most cases.

How Much Does an Online X-Ray Technician Program Cost? 

The cost of x-ray technician programs varies depending on a few factors, such as whether you get an associate degree or a certificate in this subject. In general, getting an education that will result in a certificate in this subject ranges from about $6,000 to $20,000. An associate degree in the same subject may cost anywhere from $4,000 to $30,000

Note that most states require x-ray technicians to have at least an associate degree, so this kind of program may be the right option for you if you don’t have this degree yet. But if you already have a college degree in any subject, you may simply need a certificate program to give you the education you need to become an x-ray technician.

As an example of how much the best online x-ray technician programs cost, the certificate program at the University of Nevada Las Vegas costs $12,700, not including books and other fees. If you don’t yet have a college degree and you want to complete an associate degree program at the Cleveland Clinic Mercy Hospital School of Radiologic Technology, expect to pay $21,500 total. This includes tuition for four semesters, books, seminars, and more.

If you’re on a budget for school, you can often save money by taking online classes rather than driving to campus every day. Not only will you save money on gas, but you’ll have the flexibility to work while you attend school to become an x-ray technician, since you’ll typically have your weekdays free. Another way to save money on tuition for the best online x-ray technician programs is to look for scholarships and grants available to people looking to get into medical imaging. Depending on the demand for x-ray technicians in your area, local hospitals and clinics may have scholarship programs that will help students who want to train for this field. 

How Much Do Online X-Ray Technician Majors Make? 

While helping patients on a daily basis is a great reason to get into this career, another good reason is the earning power you’ll have as an x-ray technician. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for radiologic technologists and technicians was $61,900 as of May 2020.

This means you have a good chance of making this amount at some point during your career as an x-ray technician. However, your starting pay may be slightly lower. In fact, the BLS reported that the lowest 10 percent in this career earned just under $42,180 annually. In most cases, lower earners in this field are just getting started in their career as an x-ray technician, so there’s a chance your salary will be around this amount at first.

But as you get more experience in this field, you could be one of the top earners. The BLS reported that the highest 10 percent can make more than $92,660 annually, so there’s potential for growth in this job.

Additionally, the type of employer you have will make a difference in your salary. For example, the BLS reported that x-ray technicians who work for the federal government make an average of $69,960 per year. Those who work at hospitals make $62,850 annually, while those who work in doctor offices make an average of $56,340 per year. This means that as you work on completing one of the best online x-ray technician programs, you should start thinking about what kind of healthcare setting you want to work in once you graduate.

What Is the Job Outlook for Online X-Ray Technician Program Graduates? 

One of the best reasons to look at the best online x-ray technician programs is the above average job outlook. The BLS reported that this field is expected to grow 7 percent between 2019 to 2029, which is faster than the average projected growth of 4 percent for all jobs.

The main reason for the expected job growth is that more people will need medical care as one of the biggest generations—baby boomers—get older. Considering that medical imaging is a big part of the diagnostic process, x-rays will always be in need in hospitals and doctor offices. This is why it’s no surprise that as the need for healthcare increases, so will the need for x-ray technicians. So if you’re looking for job stability, you should be looking at the best online x-ray technician programs to choose from.

Courses in Online X-Ray Technician Programs 

Whether you get an x-ray technician associate degree or a certificate, you’ll typically see the same courses listed as part of the best online x-ray technician programs. After all, you’ll need to learn the skills necessary to prepare patients for x-rays either way.

As you browse programs online, you’ll likely see the following courses as part of the curriculum:

  • Anatomy
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Patient care
  • Principles of imaging
  • Radiology theory
  • Radiation physics
  • Patient safety
  • Patient positioning

These are just a few examples, as courses can vary from one school to another. No matter which courses you have to take, once you complete the program, you should feel prepared to take the exam from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Passing this test will enable you to get a license to practice as an x-ray technician in your state.

Scholarships for Online X-Ray Technician Programs

If you’re having trouble paying for school out of pocket, you should look into scholarships you might qualify for. Some that are available for people studying to become x-ray technicians include the following:

Sam Kotonias Memorial X-Ray Scholarship: This scholarship is available to diagnostic imaging students who live in Minnesota. Once you submit your school transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and essay responses, you may be able to get a scholarship worth $1,000 to help with school.

American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT): This group offers several scholarships to new and current x-ray technicians looking to advance their education. Depending on the scholarship you apply for, you could earn anywhere from $500 to $5,000 toward tuition and other expenses at the school of your choice. Note that when you fill out one application with ASRT, you’ll get access to more than 15 scholarships from this foundation, as the system will match you to the ones you qualify for.

Intermountain Medical Imaging Scholarship: If you graduated from an Idaho high school with at least a 3.0 GPA, you may be eligible to have this scholarship pay toward your medical imaging education. Once you send in the application and write a personal essay, you could earn $1,000 to help pay for school costs.

These are just some examples of scholarships provided by private groups in this industry. Most colleges also offer scholarships for students enrolling in x-ray technician programs. Some examples of such schools include Boise State University, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and Bradford College. So if you’re worried about your ability to afford any of the best online x-ray technician programs, check with your school and industry groups in your area to see if there is financial aid available to new students.

FAQs on Online X-Ray Technician Programs

Summary Information

  • Certificate programs can take as little as 20 months to complete
  • Associate degree programs usually take 24 months to complete
  • Online x-ray technician programs give you flexibility to take classes any time so you can work

  • The x-ray technician career is associated with high-salary positions
  • Job growth for this career is faster than average
  • You can pivot into related healthcare fields after you finish your x-ray technician program

  • Tuition for the best online x-ray technician programs is highly variable
  • Programs can cost as little as $4,000
  • Many industry groups and schools offer scholarships to help pay for programs like this 
  • Online programs let you go at your own pace, which can save you money long term
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