Radiation therapist salary & career outlook

Today, radiation therapy works in concert with other aggressive treatments to give cancer patients targeted treatment, relief and hope for the future. Radiation therapists use their training to work with x-ray machines, operate radiation equipment such as linear accelerators, and provide patients with the highest level of care available.

Radiation therapists should be precise, detail-oriented, technically minded and also able to comprehend a holistic approach to patient health in order to cater treatments to their patients. While empathy and a good bedside manner may be skills that can't be taught, radiation therapist schools can take care of the technical training needed to succeed on the job.

Radiation therapist salary 2011-2012 information

While salary is undoubtedly not the only reason why you might consider radiation therapist training online, the rewards for your hard work can be found in a healthy paycheck. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that radiation therapists earned median annual wages of $76,630 in 2011. The BLS notes mean wages from industries with the highest levels of employment in the career:

  1. General medical and surgical hospitals: $76,900
  2. Offices of physicians: $82,440
  3. Outpatient care centers: $78,230
  4. Specialty (except psychiatric and substance abuse) hospitals: $86,400
  5. Colleges, universities, and professional schools: $83,430

The BLS also reports metropolitan areas across the U.S. with the highest mean wages in 2011 in selected careers. In terms of cost of living, the following three metro areas and states are the best in terms of salary for radiation therapists:

  1. Tulsa, Okla.: $101,670
  2. Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, Wash.: $97,930
  3. Sacramento, Arden, Arcade, Roseville, Calif.: $96,050

Salaries vary widely by location, education and experience; GlassDoor.com reports salary averages as of April 2012 from a sampling of employers across the U.S.:

  1. Los Angeles oncology consultant: $79,179
  2. University medical center in Chicago: $76,025
  3. New York hospital: $69,347

Salary.com reports that radiation therapy technologists (ARRT) earned median wages of $70,787 as of April 2012, with the lowest 10 percent of earners bringing home $58,424 or less while the top 10 percent earned $84,166 or more.

Training at radiation therapist schools

Education is important in this high-tech health care career. Employers tend to hire radiation therapists with an associate or bachelor's degree, the BLS notes. Training programs involve the technical training you need in radiation equipment, plus coursework in human anatomy and physiology, research methodology, math, and science. In order to become licensed, aspiring radiation therapists must graduate from a program that has been certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) and pass a certification exam.

Strong career outlook for radiation therapists

Health care careers are on the rise, thanks in part to an aging population and an increased interest in preventative procedures. Radiation therapists are expected to enjoy their own career renaissance; the BLS projects a 20 percent growth in the field between 2010 and 2020, with about 3,400 new jobs entering the field.