Nuclear Medicine Technologist Review

Nuclear medicine technologists use radioactive drugs to detect abnormalities in a patient's tissues. Currently, there aren't many jobs in this field, but the few that do exist pay extremely well.

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The Good

Well-paying career

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a nuclear medicine technologist makes over $70,000 a year on average, easily doubling the national average of $34,750 per year. Few other two-year degrees earn you this kind of money, so take a closer look at this career if a high salary is what you’re aiming for. Earning additional certification in a specialty area, such as nuclear cardiology, could result in a further boost in salary, as these skills are even rarer and in high demand.

Improve job prospects through specialization

Nuclear medicine technologists can improve their chances of getting hired by specializing in one of two areas: positron emission tomography (PET) or nuclear cardiology (NCT). PET focuses on the brain while NCT deals with the heart. In both cases, you use radioactive drugs to monitor these organs and detect any abnormalities. Both specialties require additional training and certifications in order to make sure the nuclear medicine technologists have a thorough understanding of how to use the complex technology. If you’re looking to increase your chances of securing a job in this field, it’s worth going the extra mile and obtaining one of these specialty certifications.

Get certified in as little as one year

If you already hold a degree in a related medical field, you can start working as a nuclear medicine technologist in just one year after completing a certification program. These programs are typically offered through hospitals and last for 12 months. During that time, you learn about the radioactive drugs used and how to operate the necessary machinery. You get the opportunity to perform some hands-on practice under the supervision of a licensed nuclear medicine technologist. Programs like these are an excellent fit for individuals who already work in the medical field but want to transition to a different area.

The Bad

Not many available jobs

Though fast-growing, the field of nuclear medicine technology is still relatively small, so finding a job as a technologist may be difficult. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates the number of jobs in this field will only increase by 4,200 over the next 10 years. If your area doesn’t employ nuclear medicine technologists, this might not be the best career to choose. However, the salary alone makes this vocational career worth considering if you live close to open opportunities.

Night and weekend work

Like many other medical professionals, nuclear medicine technologists may have to work some undesirable hours, including overnight and weekend shifts. They may also need to be on call and available to come into work in the event of an emergency. If you prefer a traditional work week, this is one field you may want to stay away from.

Risk of radiation exposure

Since nuclear medicine technologists work with radioactive drugs, they do run the risk of being exposed to large amounts of radiation. However, this shouldn’t be a huge concern because many precautions are taken to ensure the safety of both the patient and the technologist. Radiation exposure is regularly monitored and various shielding devices are used to limit the amount of radiation you’re exposed to in the first place.

The Details


  • Career Growth (2012-2022): 20%
  • Median Pay: $70,180
  • Number of Jobs: 20,900
  • Number of New Jobs (2012-2022): 4,200

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