Working in hospitals, doctors’ offices and outpatient centers, Radiation Therapists administer radiation treatments to cancer patients using the latest in radiation therapy technology and processes. Radiation Therapists often act as part of a larger oncology team made up of Radiation Oncologists, Oncology Nurses and Medical Physicists.
What Does a Radiation Therapist Do?
Radiation Therapists operate highly advanced machines called linear accelerators or LINAC. These machines are used to treat all portions of a patient’s body by delivering high energy X-rays or electrons to tumors and cancer cells. The treatment shrinks or eliminates the tumor or cells over time.
The Radiation Therapist’s role in the delivery of cancer treatments involves:
- Reviewing treatment plans created by a Radiation Oncologist and Medical Physicists
- Explaining treatment plans and processes to patients
- Emotionally supporting patients before, during and after treatment
- Protecting patients from unnecessary exposure to radiation
- Maintaining and operating the LINAC machines
- Observing patients for adverse reactions to treatment
- Tracking and recording all treatments
By executing these key responsibilities, Radiation Therapists help patients battle cancer and other serious diseases, in many cases prolonging their life and health.
What Certifications or Degrees Do I Need to Become a Radiation Therapist?
To obtain employment as a Radiation Therapist, individuals must first complete a two-year associates degree or four-year bachelor’s degree program in radiation therapy. It is important to remember that an associate’s degree is the minimum level of education needed to qualify for employment as a Radiation Therapist—many employers prefer and seek candidates with a bachelor’s degree.
Radiation Therapists must also be licensed or certified by the state in which they live and work. Requirements to obtain licensure or certification vary from state to state. In nearly every state, however, the individual must sit for and pass a national certification examination before seeking employment in the Radiation Therapy field.
What Is the Employment Outlook for a Radiation Therapist?
According to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, Radiation Therapists earn a medium income of $80,160 yearly.
In 2014, more than 16,000 individuals were employed as Radiation Therapists throughout the United States. That number is expected to grow in the coming years—as much as 14 percent between 2014 and 2024—as cancer risks and the age of the population increase.
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Radiation Therapist earn a competitive wage while helping patients fight the battle against cancer. Start your path towards a career as a Radiation Therapist today.
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