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How to Begin a Rewarding Career as a Mammography Technologist

Mammography technologist

September 25 2019 - Due to many baby boomers reaching their retirement age, jobs in the healthcare field are currently on the rise.

In fact, according to the BLS, jobs in healthcare across all sectors will increase by 19 percent by 2024.

In other words, now is a better time than ever to make the transition into a career in healthcare.

Of course, working in the healthcare field doesn't mean that you have to go to school for another decade to become a doctor. There are many rewarding careers in healthcare that don't require extensive education.

For example, mammography technology is one field in healthcare that's seeing a lot of growth.

But, what exactly does it take to become a mammography technologist?

Check out this guide to learn everything you need to know about beginning a rewarding career as a mammography technologist.

What Is a Mammography Technologist?

First things first, what exactly is a mammography technologist?

For many women, an annual mammogram can trigger fear and anxiety. Even if it isn't their first exam, mammograms can be nerve-racking because you never really know what to expect.

This is why the job of a mammography technologist is so important. In this role, you get the opportunity to care for women when they're feeling their most vulnerable.

In this role, you'll serve as the front line of screening for both men and women for breast cancer as well as other medical conditions.

Your main responsibilities will include taking X-rays of breasts for medical examination, taking care of imaging equipment, and taking a medical history of patients and answering any questions they might have. And of course, you'll also serve rce of comfort for patients during this time.

Mammography technologists also often work side by side with physicians to review results and keep records of the procedures.

Earn a Degree in Radiology

Your journey to become a mammography technologist all starts with earning an associate's degree in radiology.

During your degree program, you'll take classes in anatomy and physiology, classes in the use of X-rays, and other science and math classes. During your degree, you'll learn how to position patients to perform an X-ray of different bones and structures while using the least amount of radiation possible.

Typically, an associate's degree takes two years to complete if you attend school full-time. However, there are weekend and evening programs available for busy working professionals.

After you graduate from your radiology program, you'll need to take an exam to become certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologist. Upon passing this exam, you'll be officially licensed in your state as a certified radiologist.

Advanced Training in Mammography

After completing your degree in radiology, you still have more work to do in order to become a certified mammography technologist. 

Under the direction of a qualified supervisor, you'll need to complete 40 hours of supervised training that's specific to mammography. 

Your 40 hours of training will include:

  • Learning to position patients for their exam
  • Breast anatomy and physiology
  • Taking images of breasts with implants
  • Breast tissue compression
  • Radiation safety
  • Proper use of imaging equipment

In order to qualify for a job as a mammography technologist, you must also perform at least 25 examinations under the guidance of a qualified instructor.

AART Examination

After completing your training, it's time to sit for your exam.

The AART exam covers areas such as anatomy, patient care, and image evaluation.

After passing your exam, you'll officially be a certified mammography technologist. In order to hold your position, you'll also need to take 24 hours of continuing education classes every 2 years.

Continuing Education

Technologists need to stay abreast on the most recent advances in radiologic technology, which is why continuing education classes are so important.

Advances often have to do with new types of X-rays or advances in computer-based mammography reports. Oftentimes, continuing education courses are held in single-day sessions at satellite-locations, making it incredibly easy for you to stay in good standing.

These topics are often covered in continuing education courses.

Also, in addition to the 24 hours of continuing education you need each year, many mammography technologists also choose to further their education by earning their bachelor's degree in radiologic science.

The great thing about radiologic bachelor's programs is that many of them accept transfer credits from your associate's degree. In other words, you won't have to start from scratch and spend 4 years earning your bachelor's degree. Many technologists complete their bachelor's in as little as two years.

Your bachelor's program will focus on medical terminology, computer applications, CT images, and pathology. During the final two years of your bachelor's program, you'll complete an internship in clinical radiology with an affiliated hospital.

By earning your bachelor's degree, you can expect higher pay as well as the opportunity to work in a management or supervisory position.

Salary and Job Outlook

As we mentioned earlier, there's currently a huge job boom in the healthcare field.

For radiology technologists specifically, there's expected to be a 13 percent increase in jobs by 2024. This rate is faster than the national average for all jobs.

The median pay for radiologic technologists is $61,240 per year, or $29.44 per hour.

Of course, you can earn more money by earning your bachelor's and by climbing through the ranks and becoming a supervisor or a manager.

Most technologists work in hospitals, however, some also work in clinics and other healthcare settings.

Are You Ready to Become a Mammography Technologist?

As you can see, the path to becoming a mammography technologist is pretty clear-cut.

All you need to do is find the right school and you'll be well on your way to an exciting and rewarding career in the healthcare field.

Also, be sure to check back in with our website for more career tips for healthcare professionals and beyond. 

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