The job of radiology assistant, or RA, was created in the 1990's because of a nationwide shortage of radiologists and an increasing demand for patient imaging services. According to the website AlliedHealthWorld.com, radiology assistants work directly under radiologists, assessing patients' conditions, recording and examining diagnostic images, communicating results with patients and physicians and recommending patient care. If you aren't the squeamish type and want to help people get their ailments properly diagnosed, a job as a radiology assistant may be the perfect career choice. In return, you can earn an exceptional salary compared to other occupations.
Salary and Qualifications
Radiology assistants earn average annual salaries of $100,004, according to a 2010 survey conducted by the American Society of Radiologic Technologists, or ASRT, making them the highest paid among all radiology technologists. To work as a radiology assistant, you will need to earn at least an associate's degree in radiography, and have one year of clinical experience in a hospital or imaging laboratory. Additionally, you need to be certified through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, or ARRT. Many of these professionals have bachelor's or master's degrees, which is becoming more common in the industry. Other essential qualifications include attention to detail, a working knowledge of science and math and interpersonal skills.
Salary by Industry
Average salaries for registered radiology assistants varied somewhat by industry. In 2010, they earned the highest salaries of $105,293 working for outpatient imaging laboratories, according to the ASRT. If you worked in a for-profit hospital, you would earn $100,771 per year, which is slightly above the national average for radiology assistants. Your annual salary in a not-for-profit hospital would be $98,289, and you would earn $96,578 in a physician's office.
Most radiology assistants earn more as they gain experience. With less than two years experience, you can expect to earn $70,000 as a radiology assistant, based on the 2010 ASRT salary survey. When you have three to five years in this field, you could average $101,585 per year. Professionals generally top out after 20 years, earning about $120,104 annually. Your salary would also likely be higher if you worked for a larger hospital, given the greater resource base. Pennsylvania saw the highest mean salary, the ASRT reported, of about $150,000. The was followed by Massachusetts at $119,960 and Kansas at $117,000.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't project jobs for radiology assistants. It does forecast job opportunities for radiologic technicians, who focus more on taking the images of patients through CAT scans, X-rays and MRIs, or magnetic resonance imaging. Jobs for radiologic technicians are expected to increase 28 percent through the decade, which is much faster than the 14 percent growth-rate for all occupations. You should find job opportunities for radiology assistants roughly on par with those for radiologic technicians, as you will be diagnosing many of their images. All radiology-related jobs will be spurred by demand as the American population continues to age.
- AlliedHealthWorld.com: Radiology Assistant - Taking a Closer Look at the Occupational Bridge Between Radiographers and Radiologists.
- The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists: Registered Radiologist Assistant (R.R.A.) Certification
- University of North Carolina Medical School: Radiologist Assistant
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Radiologic Technologists: Job Outlook
- AlliedHealthWorld.com: Radiology Assistant Program