Friday, April 26, 2013

How To Be... an X-ray Technician

Have you ever wanted to take intimate pictures of people? I mean really intimate. The kind of pictures that let you see right through someone. If so, being an X-ray technician might be the job for you.

The best thing about being an X-ray technician is that it's a tech-oriented field that doesn't actually require a lot of formal schooling. You do have to go to school for it these days, but there are actually special programs and schools just for this, so, if you want, you can go through a two year course and earn a certificate of completion and get an entry level job working the old X-ray machine.

Those days may be running out, though, as more countries are leaning toward bachelor's programs in radiography before they will allow you to be hired as an X-ray tech.

That makes sense these days as radiography is becoming a much more diverse field than it used to be. There is the basic type: diagnostic radiography, like what I got back when I broke my wrist (and they didn't even let me see my X-rays!). You know, the kind we all think of when we start talking about X-rays, but I bet you didn't know all these other things are included under the same heading and are things an X-ray tech needs to know how to do:
sonography -- taking baby pictures among other things
fluoroscopy -- the movies! Usually, though, about the digestive tract.
CT scans (computed tomography) -- every wonder what you look like as a cross-section?
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) -- tissue maps
nuclear medicine -- radiation tracers to see how things are working
radiotherapy -- for fighting cancer
mammography -- a man invented this one, I'm sure

Being an X-ray tech is, in a lot of ways, similar to being a photographer. No, I don't mean in the way that it's taking pictures. I mean it in the way that at one time, it was a complicated process to take a picture of someone. There were all kinds of... things... you had to do, and it involved flash powder or, later, light bulbs that burned out after one use [When I was a kid, we had one of those cameras that you had to buy the disposable flashes for, because the individual bulbs burned up when you used them.] and all sorts of specialized knowledge. As cameras became more advanced by becoming more simple, though, pretty much everyone became able to use them. Sort of like your basic X-ray machine. They're pretty easy to use these days. You just need to know enough anatomy to get the kind of X-ray a doctor can use.

As with X-ray machines, cameras have also become more complicated, too. Pretty much anyone can use your basic camera, but there are all kinds of types of more complicated cameras that require special knowledge to use, and all of these other types of radiography machines are like that. Their use is becoming more and more common, so an X-ray tech has to have a more diverse field of knowledge.

It's still a kind of ground floor career, though, and it pays pretty well for something that doesn't necessarily require a degree.

Oh, and then there are things like this: X-ray pin-up calendar
Yeah, that is what I found while trying to find a fairly generic picture of a broken bone. And I don't know what to think about it. But it does show there is room for a lot of creativity within the field. I guess.


  1. Yes, I COULD do this! I could take this up in my retirement. Maybe a little home studio! Even do pets! Thanks! You have opened up a whole new unseen world to me.

  2. Enjoy that new world Donna. Not the career for me but they do play a role.

  3. My eldest niece graduation from high school last spring and intends to go to school to be an x-ray tech.

  4. Two years is a lot faster than most medical courses.

  5. I did know about those branches, or most of them, at our ages we often have to go to all these different sections to get our pictures taken in one form or another.


  6. They didn't let you look at your own X-rays? What about the part of the exam where the doctor holds the X-ray up at arm's length, squints at it, then holds the other one up, squints at that, then goes back to the first one and nods and says "Uh huh." Then he puts the X-ray up on that big light box and points to it and starts telling you how this is your wrist and that's the radius and that's the ulna and you've got a fracture and so on, while you just look at the X-ray and then your wrist and then the X-ray again and you think "So am I getting painkillers out of this or was this one big tease?"

    That's my favorite part.

  7. Love the pic of Homer

    I had a friend who did that sort of work with a 'portable' x-ray machine...though I don't think he was licensed .....

  8. An X-ray pinup calendar - fantastic idea!

  9. Had my sinuses x-rayed this year and thought, "Holy Cow. I'm weird inside, too!!"

  10. Donna: Pet X-ray calendars... that sounds kind of ingenious.

    Sheena: I kind of wish I could make X-ray calendars!

    M.J.: That's cool. I hope she learns the full spectrum of equipment.

    Alex: It is.

    Jo: I kind of want to see a cross-section of my body. Or, wait, maybe I don't.

    Briane: No! The woman had them on a computer screen in this little room; I know, because, when my daughter broke her wrist, they let me go in to see her X-rays. But, with mine, she told me I couldn't go into the little room. She said they'd send them down to my doctor, and he would let me see them. However, the doctor never came to see me; they just stuck a temp cast on my wrist and told me I could go. The wrist of that story is in that other post.
    But I was not happy to not see my X-rays.

    Mark: Oh... ooh... um, how much do those cost?

    TAS: Hilarious, right?

    Alyssia: That might be the one thing of mine I don't want to see X-rayed.

  11. The perfect gift for the right person.

  12. An x-ray pin up calendar? Seriously? I can't believe someone came up with something like that.

  13. S.L.: I know! I had to post the link so that people would believe me.

  14. I had thoughts at one time,but I gave up when I thought how hard it would be to type on my phone. So I've got nothing.

  15. Rusty: I had thoughts at one time, too... a long, long time ago.

  16. LOL, I've always loved that image! And the pin-up calendar is both creepy and hilarious at the same time. :)

  17. Kristen: The Homer one is fun. It would have been better if there was a doughnut or a cupcake-shaped brain.

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