Radiation Therapist Review

Radiation therapists serve as a vital part of a patient's oncology team. The field offers a high salary and good advancement potential, but the relatively small number of jobs means finding an available position could be tough.

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The Good

Excellent salary

Radiation therapists make, on average, about $77,000 per year, making it one of the highest-paying careers you can get with an associate’s degree. Your salary will vary depending on where you live and your employer, but some radiation therapists earn well over $100,000 each year. If a high salary is at the top of your priority list when it comes to choosing a vocational career, a job as a radiation therapist is something you may want to look into further.

Plenty of room to advance

Once you’ve gained some experience in the field of radiation therapy, you have the option to move into a management position or pursue additional certification as a dosimetrist. Dosimetrists determine how much radiation a patient needs for treatment. If neither of these options sounds appealing to you, consider moving into cancer research or another related field. You can also aim for a teaching position, educating students interested in becoming radiation therapists themselves. Not all medical professions offer this many opportunities to move up in the field, so this is something to factor into your decision, especially if you plan on working in this field for a long time.

Good fit for sociable personalities

Radiation therapists work alongside oncologists and oncology nurses to provide care for patients with cancer. Therapists follow the treatment plans set out by the doctor and prepare the patient. Then, they operate the machines that deliver the radiation and keep notes of the treatment, which they pass back to the doctors. Part of a radiation therapist’s job also involves keeping a close eye on the patient to make sure the treatment goes as planned. All of these tasks require not only technical knowledge, but also good people skills and the ability to work as part of a team. This could be a perfect career choice for you if you’re looking for a job that allows for collaboration with others on a daily basis.

No night or weekend work

Unlike most other medical professionals, radiation therapists usually have regular work hours because treatments are scheduled well in advance. So, you likely won’t be called in for an emergency after hours or on weekends. This is ideal if you prefer a traditional Monday through Friday work week but still want to work in the medical field. A schedule like this is relatively rare in medicine, so it’s definitely not something to be taken for granted.

The Bad

Few jobs available

Currently, there are only around 19,000 radiation therapists working in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The field is expected to grow by 24% over the next decade, which is considerably above average compared to most other careers. Still, that growth only amounts to about 4,500 new jobs. Nevertheless, it’s a very well-paying career and gives you the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of very ill patients, so it’s still worth looking into if it appeals to you.

Regular exposure to radiation

Because the job involves administering radiation to cancer patients, radiation therapists must take precautions not to get overexposed. They also need to protect the patient. Although you ought to be aware of this before working in this field, it’s important to note there are many safety precautions in place to prevent overexposure to radiation, so this shouldn’t be a major concern.

The Details

Details

  • Career Growth (2012-2022): 24%
  • Median Pay: $77,560
  • Number of Jobs: 19,100
  • Number of New Jobs (2012-2022): 4,500

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