technology programs range in length from 1 to 4 years and lead to a
certificate, an associate degree, or a bachelor's degree. Many employers
and an increasing number of States require certification or licensure.
Aspiring nuclear medicine technologists should check the requirements of
the State in which they plan to work.
technologists should have excellent communication skills, be
detail-oriented, and have a desire to continue learning. Technologists
must effectively interact with patients and their families and should be
sensitive to patients' physical and psychological needs. Nuclear
medicine technologists must be able to work independently as they
usually have little direct supervision. Technologists also must be
detailed-oriented and meticulous when performing procedures to assure
that all regulations are being followed.
programs are offered in hospitals, associate degree programs in
community colleges, and bachelor's degree programs in 4-year colleges
and universities. Courses cover the physical sciences, biological
effects of radiation exposure, radiation protection and procedures, the
use of radiopharmaceuticals, imaging techniques, and computer
programs are for health professionals who already possess an associate
degree -- especially radiologic technologists and
diagnostic medical sonographers
-- but who wish to specialize in nuclear medicine. The programs also
attract medical technologists, registered nurses, and others who wish to
change fields or specialize.
The Joint Review
Committee on Education Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology accredits
most formal training programs in nuclear medicine technology. See a list
accredited programs in the continental United States and Puerto Rico.
requirements for nuclear medicine technologists vary from state to
state, so it is important that aspiring technologists check the
requirements of the state in which they plan to work. More than half of
all states require certification or licensing of nuclear medicine
technicians. Certification is available from the
American Registry of Radiologic
Technologists (ARRT) and from the
Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB). Although
not required, some workers receive certification from both agencies.
Nuclear medicine technologists must meet the minimum Federal standards
on the administration of radioactive drugs and the operation of
radiation detection equipment.
The most common way to
become eligible for certification by ARRT or NMTCB is to complete a
training program recognized by those organizations. Other ways to become
eligible are completing a bachelor's or associate degree in biological
science or related health field, such as registered nursing, or
acquiring, under supervision, a certain number of hours of experience in
nuclear medicine technology. ARRT and NMTCB have different requirements,
but in all cases, one must pass a comprehensive exam to become
In addition to the
general certification requirements, certified technicians also must
complete a certain number of continuing education hours. Continuing
education is required primarily because of the frequent technological
and innovative changes in the field of nuclear medicine. Typically,
technologists must register annually with both the ARRT and the NMTCB.
advance to supervisor, then to chief technologist, and to department
administrator or director. Some technologists specialize in a clinical
area such as nuclear cardiology or computer analysis or leave patient
care to take positions in research laboratories. Some become instructors
in, or directors of, nuclear medicine technology programs, a step that
usually requires a bachelor's or master's degree in the subject. Others
leave the occupation to work as sales or training representatives for
medical equipment and radiopharmaceutical manufacturing firms or as
radiation safety officers in regulatory agencies or hospitals.
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.