How To Become A Nuclear Medicine Technologist

A Nuclear Medicine Technologist treats many types of illnesses. Whether they are focused on a specific cancerous tumor or administering radiation to complete a patient’s test, they provide critical information to support physicians and surgeons who can diagnose and treat their patients. 

Nuclear technology is widely used in the healthcare field. If you would like to be a part of healing others through this critical process, check out the information below. See if becoming a Nuclear Medicine Technologist is the right choice for you! 

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What does a Nuclear Medicine Technologist do?

If you are interested in a healthcare career, becoming a Nuclear Medicine Technologist is a rewarding career. They work closely with surgeons and physicians to formulate a treatment plan to benefit the patients. Duties include:

  • Prepare and administering radioactive drugs
  • Operate imaging equipment
  • Keep patient records
  • Adhere to all safety regulations to protect patients, as well as employees
  • Assist emergency first responders during a nuclear disaster 
  • Prepare patients for procedures 
  • Assist in research
  • And, much more!

How do I become a Nuclear Medicine Technologist?

If you are thinking ahead (while in high school) about entering the field, science-related classes such as chemistry, biology, and physics will help you excel in nuclear technology.

Next, you will need to complete an associate degree program in nuclear technology from a properly accredited program. 

Finally, certification and licensure will be necessary, if applicable in your state. If you would like additional job opportunities and higher pay, bachelor’s degree programs are also available. 

What will I learn in a nuclear medicine technology program?

Associate programs focused on nuclear medicine technology often include:

  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Physics
  • Human Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Radioactive Drugs
  • And, much more! 

Is a clinical apprenticeship necessary?

Yes, in most cases, clinical experience will be necessary. As you work under close supervision by an experienced technologist, you will learn proper procedures, protocols, and protection practices.

Who is the accrediting agency for nuclear medicine technology?

Most reputable schools that teach nuclear medicine technology are accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology

What types of Nuclear Medicine Technology are there to consider?

There are several types of Nuclear Medicine Technologist to consider, such as:

  • Nuclear Cardiology Technologists that use radioactive drugs to take images of blood flow and the heart. 
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Technologists who focus on making 3-dimensional images of specific parts of the body, such as the brain. PET scans can also show metabolic changes that CT and MRIs can not. 
  • Nuclear Medicine Computed Tomography (CT) Technologists who use radioactive isotopes with x-rays to produce imaging for internal body parts.

How long does it take to become a Nuclear Medicine Technologist?

An associate degree usually takes up to two years to complete and can be earned through your local community college or university. 

What kind of salary can I expect as a Nuclear Medicine Technologist?

As of May 2020, the salary of a Nuclear Medicine Technologist was $79,590 annually, according to the BLS. The highest 10% earned upwards of $108,070 or more per year. 

Is working with nuclear technology a danger to my health?

Hearing the word “radiation” is a bit scary; however, although the hazard exists in this field, careful safety protocols are used to protect the employee administering the treatment.

Nuclear Medicine Technologists are trained to use shields, gloves, and radiation level instruments to protect themselves. Also, there is a risk of being exposed to infectious diseases, which is true in any healthcare field.

Do I need certification to be a Nuclear Medicine Technologist?

Obtaining a license in this field is contingent upon your state’s regulations, as it is not required in every state.

Certification may be a requirement of prospective employers, such as that offered by:

To become a specialist in the field, additional certifications may be necessary, such as those needed in PET, NCT, and CT nuclear medicine.

Is there a job demand for Nuclear Medicine Technologists?

The need for Nuclear Medicine Technologists is projected to grow by 8% between 2020 and 2030, providing about 1,500 new job opportunities per year, as per the BLS.

Where do Nuclear Medicine Technologists work?

You can find job options in several types of facilities. Nuclear Medicine Technologists work in physician’s offices, hospitals, medical and diagnostic laboratories, as well as outpatient care facilities. 

What qualities do I need to be a good Nuclear Medicine Technologist?

Nuclear Medicine Technologists must be knowledgeable in their field, good communicators, have good analytical and problem-solving skills, and be detail-oriented. They must also be a team player, stand on their feet for long periods, and lift patients with ease. And perhaps one of the most essential qualities, they must be compassionate towards their patients.