Nuclear Medicine Technologist

Almost everyone is familiar with the prevalence of x-rays and ultrasounds in diagnosing internal illness and injury. These technologies have become as familiar as the stethoscope in modern medicine. Nuclear medicine, however, remains a relatively unknown sector of the health care industry. Specialization is a sure way to ensure that your professional prospects will always be positive because specialists, with their unique technical knowledge, are in high demand. One job that fits this criterion is nuclear medicine technology, largely because the educational requirements are within reach of many people and the nuclear medicine technologist salary is competitive with other health care jobs.

Nuclear medicine began with the discovery of radiation. Physicians soon realized that radioactive material was easily detected and could be used to see the internal systems of the body. Using radioactive isotopes, doctors could diagnose problems within the body that were not visible to the naked eye. A special camera is used to scan the radioactive material as it passes through the body. Doctors can discover abnormalities in organs and systems by studying the information given off from the decaying isotopes. The radioactive material quickly dissipates and causes no harm to the patient. Advances in nuclear medicine have made it possible to actually treat disease and illness with radioactive material. Nuclear medicine technologists are responsible for the proper functioning of the equipment involved in diagnostic and therapeutic nuclear medicine. The requirement that they have extensive specialized knowledge means that nuclear medicine technologist salaries are above the typical technologistís pay.

A nuclear medicine technologist salary is one of the highest in the health care industry outside of doctors and nurses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics in its most recent published findings reports that the average salary for nuclear medicine technologists was close to $70,000 a year.

Hourly wages are generally above $30 an hour for those working part-time or as independent contractors. A significant percentage of nuclear medicine technologists earned more than $90,000 a year. The range in numbers reflects pay differences between diverse regions of the country like urban and rural settings. Experience plays another significant factor. What is remarkable about these nuclear medicine technologist salaries is that they can be achieved with significantly less educational hurdles than nurses and physicians face.

The education and training necessary to earn these nuclear medicine technologist salaries should be in the sights of most young people. An associateís degree in nuclear medicine technology can be achieved in less than two years. With the flexibility provided by online courses, it is possible to work while getting a degree without racking up a large debt burden. An associateís degree program gives candidates an overview of anatomy, physiology, and biology. There are also courses on basic medical procedures and safety like CPR because even nuclear medicine technologists may be called on to respond in an emergency situation in a hospital setting. Finally there will be coursework in the equipment, procedures, and techniques used in the specialty of nuclear medicine. Students become conversant in the terminology of nuclear medicine.

It is possible to earn a bachelorís degree with an emphasis in nuclear medicine. Degree programs of this kind will give students extra work in general medicine and might include an internship working in nuclear medicine. Hands-on experience is especially important in nuclear medicine because the cameras and scanners used for imaging are unique. The radioactive pharmaceuticals used must be administered properly and handled with care, so many classroom hours are spent on their use. The educational costs are easily recouped; however, as a nuclear medicine technologist salary is well above average.

Last Updated: 05/22/2014