Radiation Therapist Education and Career Pathway

By | March 24, 2024
Radiation Therapist Education
To become a radiation therapist and be successful in your career, you need to fulfill certain educational requirements.

This post provides detailed on the radiation therapist education and career pathway to help you learn how to become a radiation therapist and achieve a successful career.

Why Choose Radiation Therapist Career?

The main reason you should choose a career as a radiation therapist is based on the following:

  1. Rewarding nature of the job

One reason is the rewarding nature of the job. A typical day for a radiation therapist involves working on different types of treatments such as X-ray, CT scan, MRI, PET scans etc.

2. Helping people

The work can be very demanding but it also gives you an opportunity to help people.

You are not only helping them recover from their illness but also giving them hope when they have none.

3. Flexible hours

Another important aspect of choosing a career as a radiation therapist is flexible hours.

The work schedule of a radiation therapist is usually 8 hour shifts, which means that you can easily fit your work around your personal life.

4. Challenging work environment

Working environment of a radiation therapist is challenging because you need to deal with many things at once.

This includes dealing with patients, doctors, nurses, technicians, equipment and more.

5. High salary potential

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary of a radiation therapist is $58,560.

If you are interested in pursuing a career in this field, you can expect to earn even higher salaries if you work in high demand areas. 

Radiation Therapist Education Requirements

In order to become a radiation therapist, you must complete a Bachelor degree program in radiologic technology.

In addition, you must pass a licensing exam before being allowed to practice.

Radiation Therapist Continuing Education

It is recommended that you take continuing education courses so that you stay up to date with new developments in the industry.

Some of these courses include:

  1. Medical Terminology

This course helps you learn how to communicate effectively with medical professionals.

It teaches you about abbreviations, acronyms, medical terms, medications, procedures, diagnoses, and much more.

2. Medical Physics

This course teaches you about various aspects of medical physics, including anatomy, physiology, pathology, radiopharmaceuticals, radiology, dosimetry, imaging, treatment planning, and more.

3. Radiological Sciences

This course teaches you about the basic principles of biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, engineering, and psychology.

It also covers topics like anatomy, biochemistry, genetics, histology, immunology, microbiology, nutrition, pharmacology, physiology, toxicology, and more.

4. Anatomy & Physiology

This course teaches you how the human body works by explaining the functions of organs, tissues, bones, muscles, nerves, blood vessels, and other parts of the body.

5. Biostatistics

This course teaches you how to use statistical methods to analyze data and make decisions.

It also teaches you how to interpret results and determine whether or not they are significant.

Radiation therapist Certification/License

The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography offers two levels of certification exams namely; Level I and Level II.

These tests are offered on a yearly basis.

To qualify for the test, you must first obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Radiologic Technology from an accredited institution.

You will then be required to successfully complete a series of practical examinations.

Once you have completed all requirements, you will be eligible to sit for the exam.

Radiation Therapist Career Pathways

There are several career pathways for a radiation therapist. They include:

  1. Clinical Radiographer

A clinical radiographer uses x-ray machines to diagnose diseases, injuries, and defects. He or she may be responsible for operating the machine or assisting the doctor during the procedure.

This position requires at least one year of experience as a technician.

2. Nuclear Medicine Technologist

A nuclear medicine technologist performs diagnostic scans using radioactive materials such as iodine, fluorine, and gallium.

He or she may perform single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and positron emission tomography (PET).

A nuclear medicine technologist usually has at least 1 year of experience working as a technician.

3. Radiation Therapist

A radiation therapist administers radiation therapy treatments to patients suffering from cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, and many others.

The job duties vary depending on the type of facility where he or she works. In hospitals, therapists typically work closely with doctors.

They may administer chemotherapy drugs, prescribe pain medication, and monitor patient health.

In outpatient facilities, therapists treat patients who come for regular checkups.

They may provide physical therapy, help them recover after surgery, and teach them exercises that can prevent future problems.

4. Radiation Oncologist

A radiation oncologist is a physician who specializes in treating cancerous tumors using radiation therapy.

Although this field is relatively new, it has become increasingly popular among medical professionals because it provides effective treatment options for their patients.

5. Radiation Therapy Assistant

A radiation therapy assistant helps physicians and technicians administer radiation treatments to patients.

His or her main responsibilities include preparing equipment, positioning patients, monitoring dosages, and ensuring safety throughout the process.

Others include:

  • Radiation Safety Officer
  • X-Ray Technician
  • Medical Dosimetry Specialist
  • Radiation Protection Supervisor
  • Radiation Control Inspector
  • Radiation Measurement Technician
  • Radiation Protection Coordinator
  • Radiation Physicist
  • Radiation Biophysics.

How to Advance your Radiation Therapist Career

Here are some ideas on how to advance your career in the field of radiation technology:

  1. Take a Course

You can take courses online or in person to increase your knowledge about the different types of radiation therapy.

These programs can also give you an idea of what kind of jobs is available in the industry.

2. Join a Professional Association

Joining a professional association will allow you to network with other professionals in the same field.

It will also give you access to information about training opportunities, continuing education, and more.

3. Find a Job

The best way to find a job is to search online for companies that offer positions in the field.

You can also look at local newspapers and magazines to see if there are any open positions.

4. Become Certified

If you want to move up in the ranks, then becoming certified can be beneficial. There are certifications available for those interested in the following careers:

  • Medical Dosimetry Specialist
  • Radiologic Technology
  • Radiation Therapist
  • Radiation Protection Supervisor
  • Radiation Safety Officer
  • Radiation Control Inspector.

5. Work as a Volunteer

Working as a volunteer can be a great way to gain experience in the field without having to pay any money out of pocket.

This would require you to find a non-profit organization that needs volunteers.

You can learn about the organization’s goals and objectives, and determine if volunteering would be a good fit for you.

6. Get Experience

The best way to get experience in the field of radiation therapy is by working as a technician.

You can do this through internships, part time work, or even full time employment.

How to Find a Good Radiation Therapist School

Here are some pointers on how to find a good radiation therapy school:

  1. Research Online

Researching schools online is one of the easiest ways to find a good program.

You can simply type “radiation therapy schools near me” into Google and start looking at the results.

You may have to narrow down your search depending on where you live. 

2. Ask Friends and Family

Ask friends and family members who they went to college with for recommendations. They might know someone who attended a particular school.

You can also ask them if they had any bad experiences while attending their program.

3. Check Out Local Schools

Check out your local community colleges and universities to see if they offer radiation therapy programs. If not, check out private schools.

4. Look at Training Programs

Some schools offer short term programs that train students to become radiation therapists.

These programs usually last for anywhere from two weeks to three months. The length of the curriculum is determined by the school.

5. Contact Universities and Colleges

Contact universities and colleges directly to inquire about their radiation therapy programs.

You can also contact the admissions department to see what types of courses are offered.

How to be Successful in your Radiation Therapist Career

If you want to succeed in your radiation therapist career, here are some tips to apply:

  1. Be Flexible

It is important to be flexible in deciding the career path to take. Some jobs may seem like a perfect fit for you, but the company may close its doors before you graduate.

Therefore, you should consider other options, such as volunteering.

2. Stay Current

You must stay current with all aspects of your profession. It doesn’t matter if you are an entry level worker or a manager; staying informed will help you make better decisions.

3. Learn More about your Job

There are many different facets to being a radiation therapist. For example, there are different types of equipment used in the industry.

Another important aspect is safety procedures. Learning more about these things will give you a competitive advantage over others.

4. Build Relationships

It is very important to build relationships within the workplace. You never know when you will need to refer a patient to another facility.

Therefore, you should always keep open lines of communication.

5. Keep up with Technology

Technology plays an essential role in our lives. In order to remain relevant in the job market, you need to stay up to date with technology.

Many companies now use electronic medical records to store information. This makes it easier for patients to access their health history.

What does a Radiation Therapist Do?

A radiation therapist works in collaboration with doctors in administering radiation treatments to patients.

A typical day includes working with patients, preparing treatment plans, ordering supplies, monitoring patients during treatments, and providing education.

Qualities of a Good Radiation Therapist 

These are some qualities that a good radiation therapist needs:

  1. Ability to work well under pressure

The ability to work under stress is crucial for a successful radiation therapist. Remember to remain calm when dealing with difficult situations.

2. Knowledgeable

Being knowledgeable about the field is vital. You must have knowledge of the latest technological advances and how they affect the industry.

3. Patient-oriented

Patient-centered care is extremely important to a radiation therapist. You must be able to listen to patients and understand their concerns.

4. Team player

In today’s fast paced world, teamwork is key. Being part of a team means having confidence in your colleagues and helping them achieve success.

5. Communication skills

Communication skills are critical for any occupation. If you lack these skills, you won’t be able to effectively interact with patients.

Radiation Therapist Salary

According to the US Bureau Labor of Statistics, the national average yearly pay for a radiation therapist is $91,620.

Radiation Therapist Job Outlook

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of radiation therapists is expected to rise at a rate of 9% from 2020 to 2030, which is approximately the same as the national average for all occupations.

Over the next decade, there are expected to be around 1,100 vacancies for radiation therapists per year.


If you are interested in becoming a radiation therapist, this post has provided all you need to know about the education and training you need to have to get into the career, as well as other information to help you build a successful career.

This article also gives you a general idea about what a radiation therapist does on a daily basis.

The responsibilities can seem overwhelming at first, but if you learn the basics, you will find yourself making a positive impact every day.