Radiation Therapy Associate's Degree
Learn the employment outlook and average salary of radiation therapists. Find out the courses included in associate's degree programs in radiation therapy and requirements for professional certification. Schools offering Biomedical Engineering Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What Is a Radiation Therapy Associate's Degree?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an associate's degree is the most common requirement to be able to practice as a radiation therapist (www.bls.gov). Though the degree is usually in radiation therapy, you may also work in this field by earning an associate degree in radiography, followed by earning a certificate in radiation therapy.
An associate's degree in radiation therapy can prepare you to assess a patient's condition in a clinical environment and teach you how to administer radiation therapy, as prescribed by attending physicians. You learn to prepare the patient and equipment for treatment and may help in the review of diagnosis and the determination of radiation dosages.
What Will I Find in a Program?
A program takes 22-24 months to complete and can consist of 68-89 credits. Completion can lead to an Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science degree. Before you enroll in a program, a school may require you to have completed a number of prerequisites such an anatomy and physiology, algebra and medical terminology.
Some typical courses you might encounter in a program include radiation oncology, dosimetry, radiologic biology, physics, treatment planning, instrumentation and patient care. There are typically a number of lab sections and practicums scattered throughout a program. You may also be required to complete an internship or externship. Practicums, internships and externships may be completed at a school-partnered facility, at a school-approved facility or your place of employment.
Once you earn an associate's degree, you may be eligible to sit for a certification examination administered by the ARRT. Most states require you to be licensed to practice as a radiation therapist. Licensure is often granted based on passing the ARRT certification exam.
What Online Possibilities Exist?
Because of the large amount of hands-on training, there are no programs leading to an associate's degree in radiation therapy entirely online. However, you might note that hybrid programs do exist. Hybrid programs are those in which didactic sections are presented online, but also contain in-person requirements. While you can earn an associate's degree by traditional methods and hold ARRT certification, you may be able to locate online degree-completion programs that result in a bachelor's degree.
What Is the Occupational Outlook?
In 2010, the BLS projected that employment opportunities for radiation therapists would increase 27% from 2008-2018. At the same time, the mean annual wage for radiation therapists was determined to be $78,290.
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