Considering a career as a radiology technician but worried about the costs of education? This comprehensive guide examines the typical tuition, fees, and other expenses associated with radiology technician programs, along with tips for securing financial aid and weighing the overall return on your educational investment in this high-demand healthcare field.
With the aging population and advances in medical technology, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects strong growth for radiology technicians over the next decade.
However, launching a career requires specialized training and certification. While radiology technician programs require a significant financial commitment, education is the key stepping stone toward a secure and lucrative profession in healthcare.
How Much Does Radiology Technician School Cost?
The cost of radiology technician education varies based on the type of program and credentials pursued:
- Certificate programs can range from $2,000 to $5,000 in total tuition and fees. These accelerated options focus solely on radiography topics and clinical training.
- Associate degree programs generally cost between $8,000 and $15,000 for two years of radiography curriculum and general education. Many technicians earn an Associate of Science.
- Bachelor’s degrees in radiologic technology or radiology sciences have total tuition and fees of $30,000 to $50,000. These four-year programs include advanced clinical specialties.
- Books, uniforms, and laboratory fees can add another $1,000 to $2,500 in expenses. Rigorous programs also charge clinical placement fees of around $200 per semester.
Financial aid and scholarships can reduce out-of-pocket costs for radiology technician programs, which represent an important investment in a stable healthcare career.
Emory Decatur Hospital‘s School of Radiologic Technology offers a two-year program with a total tuition and fee of $11,150. The annual tuition is $5,400 with an additional non-refundable $350 student activity fee for the first year.
The program does not participate in Federal Financial Aid but accepts WIOA and VA Benefits. Additional costs like books (approximately $900), uniforms, professional society dues ($20 annually), and the ARRT Exam ($225) should also be considered.
The School of Radiologic Technology at Grady Health System in Georgia offers a program with a tuition of $1,800 per semester for a total of $10,800 over six semesters.
Additional fees include drug screening and background checks ($78.50 base fee), symplr® CHOA Drug Screen & Background check ($49.00 first year, $29.00 second year), Trajecsys-Online Clinical Record ($150 one-time fee), and HPSO Professional Liability Insurance.
The School of Radiography Program Fees at Northwestern Memorial Hospital include a tuition of $8,250 along with a resource fee of $100.
Additional costs amount to $1,250 covering expenses like application fees, textbooks, clinical evaluation system fees, and liability insurance. Non-affiliated students are required to pay full tuition by August 15th before the start of the program.
A tuition deposit of $250 is also mandatory upon acceptance into the program.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
Fortunately, aspiring radiology technicians have many options when it comes to financial assistance:
- Federal student loans and grants are the most widely available options. Loans must be repaid with interest, while grants do not require repayment.
- Institutional aid and scholarships are offered directly through colleges and universities. These can include academic scholarships or needs-based grants.
- External scholarships are available through organizations like the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT), American Healthcare Radiology Administrators (AHRA), and states’ radiology associations. Awards range from $500 to $2,500.
- Employer tuition reimbursement programs allow students to repay educational costs once employed. Major healthcare systems often offer these benefits.
Thoroughly researching and applying for financial aid can substantially reduce direct out-of-pocket costs for radiology technician education.
Radiology Technician Programs Explained
So what can students expect to learn in a radiology technician program? These programs prepare students for careers operating diagnostic imaging equipment and supporting radiologists.
- Principles of radiographic imaging and procedures
- Radiation safety protocols
- Patient care and communication
- Image processing and evaluation
- Clinical procedures like X-ray, CT, MRI, mammography
- Anatomy, pathology, pharmacology
Typical program formats
- Certificate – 1 year of radiography coursework and clinical hours
- Associate Degree – 2 years combining radiography curriculum with general education
- Bachelor’s Degree – 4 years with advanced coursework in imaging modalities
All accredited programs require hundreds of hours of hands-on clinical training in healthcare settings under the supervision of practicing radiology technicians. This is a critical component of education.
Factors Influencing School Costs
Many factors contribute to the overall cost and value of a radiology technician program. Understanding these details can help students evaluate programs.
- Type of degree/certificate – More advanced degrees cost more but lead to higher salaries.
- Public vs. private colleges – In-state public tuition is usually cheaper than private options.
- Location and regional costs – Programs in high-cost-of-living urban areas cost more.
- School reputation and resources – Renowned programs cost more but may provide more value through job placement.
- Program length – Accelerated options like certificates take less time but cost less overall.
When estimating the total costs, students should account for tuition, fees, books, uniforms, clinical fees, certification exams, and living expenses while in school. Those considering pursuing a bachelor’s degree after an associate degree should factor this additional time and cost.
Evaluating the Return on Investment
A radiology technician program requires a substantial financial investment. But is the cost worth it in terms of career prospects and earning potential?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for radiologic technologists and technicians is $61,900 per year or $29.76 per hour. With the national push for more preventative care and diagnostics, job growth is projected at 7% over the next decade, faster than average job growth. An investment in accredited radiology technician education can lead to ample job opportunities upon graduation and certification.
Those holding bachelor’s degrees may be preferred for specialized modalities like MRI and CT scans. With advanced certifications, experienced radiology techs can earn over $80,000. Supervisory roles as managers and educators also offer increased earning potential.
When weighing costs, students should consider total program expenses versus expected entry-level salary and account for experience-based salary growth over a career. Those able to keep educational debt low by securing financial aid may find the two-year payback period very reasonable.
Choosing the Right School
Once students decide to pursue radiology technician education, how should they go about selecting the right program?
Important criteria include:
- Accreditation – Programs approved by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) adhere to high academic and clinical standards. Graduating from an accredited program is required to take certain certification exams.
- Program success rates – Program completion and certification exam pass rates indicate effective education. Rates over 80% are favorable.
- Clinical opportunities – Quality and variety of supervised clinical experiences at healthcare facilities will impact skills.
- Location and format – Local programs allow living at home to save money, while online programs provide flexibility.
Be sure to ask admissions counselors key questions on costs, financial aid availability, program format, and career placement services. Submitting applications to multiple programs allows cost comparison.
Application Process and Requirements
Students should apply to radiology technician programs one year in advance to allow time for admissions processing, financial aid applications, and relocating for school if needed.
Common admissions requirements include:
- Online application with fee
- Academic transcripts and minimum GPA (often 2.5 or higher)
- School entrance exams (SAT, ACT)
- Completed course prerequisites
- Observation or work experience in a radiology department
- Letters of recommendation
- Personal statement
Meeting deadlines and submitting well-prepared applications increases the likelihood of admission and financial aid/scholarship awards.
Preparing for Additional Costs
Beyond tuition and fees, students should budget for expenses like:
- ARRT certification exam – $200 to $300
- State licensing – $50 to $100 every two years
- Textbooks and uniforms – $500+
- Continuing education – Average of $250/year
Building savings to cover these ancillary costs is recommended. Tracking expenses and availing of tuition reimbursement from employers can help manage costs as well.
The upfront costs of radiology technician education represent an important investment in your healthcare career.
With smart financial planning, research on program quality, and dedicated hard work, students can graduate ready to excel as radiologic technologists, earn competitive salaries, and deliver life-saving care.
There are many ways to reduce or recover educational costs over time, making this a worthwhile career investment.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long is radiology training in the USA?
The typical radiology technician training program length is 2 years for an associate degree, 1 year for a certificate program, or 4 years for a bachelor’s degree.
This includes coursework and at least 500 hours of supervised clinical rotations in a healthcare setting to gain hands-on experience operating diagnostic imaging equipment.
Students aiming for the highest level of professional certification may complete a 2-4 year degree followed by 24 months of post-graduate clinical training.
Is radiology a good career in the USA?
Yes, radiology is an excellent career choice in the USA due to high demand, competitive salaries, opportunities for advancement, and the fulfillment of helping diagnose patients.
The field is projected to grow 7% over the next decade. Radiology technicians earn a median pay of $61,900 per year, with experienced radiologists earning over $80,000. With certification and specialization in modalities like MRI or CT, experienced techs can move into supervisor, management, or teaching roles.
What doctor has the shortest residency?
The medical specialties with the shortest residency programs are family medicine and pediatrics, which require 3 years of post-medical school residency training.
Radiology residency programs take 4 years post-medical school to train radiologists who interpret medical images and diagnose conditions. In contrast, some of the longest residencies are general surgery (5 years), anesthesiology (4 years), and orthopedic surgery (5 years).
Primary care fields like family medicine offer relatively accelerated paths to independent practice.
- American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) – Professional association offering education, advocacy, research, and more.
- Radiology Schools 411 – Directory of accredited radiology technician programs and info on careers, certification, and financial aid.
- Federal Student Aid – Official government site offering information on federal loans, grants, scholarships, and how to apply for financial aid.