One of the most important steps in your journey to become an radiology technician is to obtain a radiography certification in the particular discipline you are studying. Whether you aspire to be a CT tech, mammographer, nuclear medicine technologist, MRI technician, or simply a conventional X-ray tech, certification is an essential step to a successful career in radiology.
Having certified and registered over 300,000 radiologic technologists since it was founded in 1922, The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) is the most widely recognized certification agency in the radiology tech field today. Only after someone has become nationally certified by the ARRT can they officially declare themself a registered technologist (RT).
Although ARRT certification is voluntary and not necessarily mandated, many states are using ARRT exam scores for licensing purposes. Additionally, some states have adopted the ARRT radiology certification exam as a prerequisite to granting an individual licensure in that state. Moreover, the vast majority of radiologic technologist jobs require ARRT certification, as most employers will only consider hiring individuals who possess radiology technician certification credentials. Skimming over any available radiology jobs online will quickly confirm this.
The ARRT Exam
In order to obtain certification from The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, you must successfully pass the ARRT certification exam. However, to be considered a candidate to take the ARRT exam, you will first need to successfully earn a radiology degree or certificate from one of the radiology technician schools that has been accredited by an acceptable accreditation agency. This is described in greater detail on their site here. Once you have completed one of the many accredited radiology programs and passed the ARRT exam, you will have finally earned a status as an RT and have made yourself substantially more attractive to prospective employers.
Registered Technologist Status
As indicated by the name, in order to be recognized as a registered technologist (RT), you must actually be “registered”. You will have achieved this distinction once you have successfully passed the ARRT examination and received your ARRT radiography certification. And once you are officially declared an R.T., you have designated yourself as the gold standard in the industry—a prime candidate for employment… at least for the time being. This is because registration only begins here. In order to maintain possession of the R.T. status, you must renew your registration annually by meeting certain criteria. You can read more about this here:
Continuing Qualification Requirements and You
Due to rapidly advancing technologies in the medical imaging field, RTs are also required to comply with a process known as CQR, which stands for continuing qualification requirements. What this means is that even though you have already passed the ARRT exam and received your radiology certification, you will still need to become recertified after a period of time specified by the ARRT. CQR and recertification is a process which allows RTs to demonstrate that their skills and knowledge are keeping up with the times, along with several other components of evaluation. See further information on the ARRT CQR page here:
What’s the Difference Between X-ray Certification and ARRT Certification?
There is so much different terminology tossed around in the field of radiologic technology that it can even be confusing to us sometimes. What you might hear being referred to as an X-ray technician certification, may also be called a radiography certification or a radiology tech certification, amongst many other names. The bottom line is that whether it’s called an X-ray tech certification, mammography certification, radiation therapy certification, or any other certification in a specified discipline within the field of rad tech, you will need to pass the ARRT exam and obtain an ARRT certification in order to become nationally certified. Furthermore, becoming certified is not to be confused with certificate based radiology programs, which are entirely different altogether.
There are two distinct types of certifications that the ARRT offers. The first and most basic is called a primary pathway certification. This is the entry-level certification in the field of radiologic technology and covers these categories:
- Nuclear Medicine Technology
- Radiation Therapy
The second type is called a post-primary pathway certification. In order to qualify as a candidate for a post-primary pathway certification, you must already be registered in an appropriate primary pathway category and have completed certain clinical experience requirements. The post-primary pathway certification covers these modalities:
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- Quality Management (QM)
- Bone Densitometry
- Computed Tomography (CT)
- Cardiac-Interventional (CI) Radiography
- Breast Sonography
- Vascular-Interventional (VI) Radiography
- Vascular Sonography
*It should be noted that starting in 2015, applicants seeking to become a certified registered technologist through the ARRT will be required to have a minimum of an associate’s degree to be eligible to apply.