degree, associate degree, or certificate in radiation therapy generally
is required. Many states also require radiation therapists to be
licensed. With experience, therapists can advance to managerial
Employers usually require
applicants to complete an associate or a bachelor's degree program in
radiation therapy. Individuals also may become qualified by completing
an associate or a bachelor's degree program in radiography, which is the
study of radiological imaging, and then completing a 12-month
certificate program in radiation therapy. Radiation therapy programs
include core courses on radiation therapy procedures and the scientific
theories behind them. In addition, such programs often include courses
on human anatomy and physiology, physics, algebra, precalculus, writing,
public speaking, computer science, and research methodology. In the
United States, radiation therapy programs are accredited by the American
Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).
Licensing and Certification
states required radiation therapists to be licensed by a state
accrediting board. Licensing requirements vary by state, but many
states require applicants to pass the ARRT certification examination.
Further information is available from individual State licensing
Some states, as well as many
employers, require that radiation therapists be certified by ARRT. To
become ARRT-certified, an applicant must complete an accredited
radiation therapy program, adhere to ARRT ethical standards, and pass
the ARRT certification examination. The examination and accredited
academic programs cover radiation protection and quality assurance,
clinical concepts in radiation oncology, treatment planning, treatment
delivery, and patient care and education. Candidates also must
demonstrate competency in several clinical practices including patient
care activities; simulation procedures; dosimetry calculations;
fabrication of beam modification devices; low-volume, high-risk
procedures, and the application of radiation.
ARRT certification is valid
for 1 year, after which therapists must renew their certification.
Requirements for renewal include abiding by the ARRT ethical standards,
paying annual dues, and satisfying continuing education requirements.
Continuing education requirements must be met every 2 years and include
either the completion of 24 credits of radiation therapy-related courses
or the attainment of ARRT certification in a discipline other than
radiation therapy. Certification renewal, however, may not be required
by all States or employers that require initial certification.
All radiation therapists
need good communication skills because their work involves a great deal
of patient interaction. Individuals interested in becoming radiation
therapists should be psychologically capable of working with cancer
patients. They should be caring and empathetic because they work with
patients who are ill and under stress. They should be able to keep
accurate, detailed records. They also should be physically fit because
they work on their feet for long periods and lift and move disabled
therapists may advance to manage radiation therapy programs in treatment
centers or other health care facilities. Managers generally continue to
treat patients while taking on management responsibilities. Other
advancement opportunities include teaching, technical sales, and
research. With additional training and certification, therapists also
can become dosimetrists, who use complex mathematical formulas to
calculate proper radiation doses.
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.