Spend the morning with a radiation therapy student

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How to Become a Radiation Therapist

Two Parts:

As a radiation therapist, you can help treat patients with cancer. The therapist operates an X-ray or CT (computer tomography) scanning machine to determine the location of a cancer tumor. Then, the therapist administers treatment using a linear accelerator, which uses X-rays to shrink the cancer cells and eliminate the tumor. To become a radiation therapist, you must possess certain traits and pass several education and training requirements.


Becoming a Therapist

  1. Determine if you have the necessary technical skills.A radiation technician's job can be physically demanding, beyond simply being able to work the machinery. You need good organizational skills to maintain detailed patient treatment records, and must have the physical strength to help patients onto treatment tables.
  2. Determine if you have the right interpersonal skills.Working with cancer patients on a daily basis can be emotionally difficult. You should be empathetic, willing to provide emotional support during a stressful treatment session, and have good communication skills.
  3. Attend a college with an accredited radiation therapy program.In addition to learning about radiation therapy procedures, these programs will generally require coursework in human anatomy and physiology, physics, algebra, computer science, and research methodology. The website of the American Registry of Radiologic Technicians (ARRT)can help you find an accredited school or program.
    • A Radiation Therapy degree can be either an associates degree or a bachelor's degree. Starting in 2015, certification from the ARRT (which is not always necessary for employment) requires a college degree.

Working as a Therapist

  1. Follow the work requirements for your state and employer.Many states require licensing in order to practice. Even if you are not in one of those states, your employer may require it.
    • The American Society of Radiologic Technicians (ASRT) has a list of the licensing requirements by state, as well as contact information for each state agency, on their website.
  2. Get certified by the ARRT.Most employers will require a certification, which is different from the state license. Though it may not be required by every state, having ARRT certification can give you more options of places to work. To receive certification, you must complete certain educational requirements, adhere to the ARRT Standards of Ethics, then pass a computer-based test at a testing center. The exam includes a 0 testing fee.
    • You need to take the ARRT certification exam within three years of receiving your associates or bachelor's degree, and you can take the exam up to three times.
    • To help prepare for the exam, the ARRT provides an outline of the exam. It does not specifically prescribe any particular preparation book, so you will have to find one that best suits your needs.
    • ARRT certification requires annual renewal by the end of your birth month. You can either renew by mail, on online through their website. Requirements include a fee and continued adherence to the ARRT Standards of Ethics. In addition, you must complete a continuing education requirement every two years and Continuing Qualifications Requirements every ten years.
    • If your registration lapses, you can be reinstated with an additional fee. If you have gone more than six months without renewal, you will need to retake the examination, with a 0 fee.
  3. Interview for job openings.The majority of radiation therapists work in hospitals, but there are also opportunities in doctor's offices and outpatient facilities. During the interview process, you should demonstrate a good understanding of patient care activities, the application of radiation, safety protocols, and other relevant activities.
  4. Keep a lookout for career advancement.An experienced therapist can rise to take on additional responsibility in a managerial role. With additional education and certification, you could even become a dosimetrist, who calculates the amount of radiation required for treatment.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    Can I become a radiation therapist with a GED if I go to college and get my Associate's degree?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    You can, but there is a strong emphasis in advanced math. If you're planning on going this route, I would recommend taking an advanced algebra/pre-calc course to see if you can handle the academic portion of the training.
  • Question
    Do I need a bachelors degree to become a radiation therapist?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Most radiation therapists complete programs that lead to an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree in radiation therapy. Radiation therapists must be licensed or certified in most states. Requirements vary by state, but often include passing a national certification exam.
  • Question
    How many years do I have to go to college to become a radiation therapist?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    You have to go to school for 2-4 years, although the 2-year programs are closer to three years with your internship. After you graduate, you can take the certification exam, and after that you may have to take a state licensure test depending on your job location.
  • Question
    Can a medical assistant without an associate's degree enter into a radiation therapist's program?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    For a 2-year program, it won't matter. In a 4-year program, you will have to complete any pre-requisites to get entry into the program. You may have a leg up in being able to transfer some of your MA credits though, due to the allied health overlap.
  • Question
    Do I have to be good at math and science to become a radiation therapist?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
  • Question
    Can I still become a radiation therapist if I had cancer as a child?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes, you most definitely can.
  • Question
    Can I be a doctor when I have studied radiation therapy?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    The only way to become a doctor is to go to medical school. You can go to medical school regardless of what you studied or did before, as long as you apply and get accepted. See How to Become a Doctor.
Unanswered Questions
  • How long does it take to become a radiation therapist?
  • Can one become a radiation therapist from a technician over the years with experience?
  • I have monocular vision. Would this impair my ability to become a radiation therapist?
  • If I am a Radiology Technologist how can I become a Radiation Technologist?
  • Do I have to know a lot of math to become a radiation therapist?
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  • Radiation therapists work with radioactive materials, and can be exposed to low levels of radiation. If you are careful, and understand the machines you are using, you should be perfectly safe.
  • Radiation therapists don't have to work evenings or weekends as often as some other medical professions. However, the job is largely spent standing, which can be fatiguing.


  • Some states use an ARRT exam for licensing. Passing such an exam doesn't simultaneously qualify you for ARRT certification. To be certified, you must complete the ARRT application process and pass the certification exam.

Video: Why MD Anderson: Radiation therapist Toni Hulin

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Date: 10.12.2018, 13:17 / Views: 72243