How To Become A Radiation Therapist

A Radiation Therapist administers treatment to cancer patients. Most people, if not all, have friends or family that have been affected by cancer. 

According to the National Cancer Institute, over 1,806,590 lives were diagnosed in 2020, with over 606,520 dying from the horrible disease in the U.S. By 2040, they estimate 29.5 million new cases with 16.4 million deaths. 

Cancer remains the most prominent cause of death for many across the world. The good news is that breakthrough treatments offering radiation and chemotherapy can save many lives through modern technology. If you decide to become a Radiation Therapist, you will be a part of something big… saving lives! 

Related Article: The 40 Highest Paying Jobs With A Trade School Education

Take the next step! The Top 10 Best Radiation Therapist Schools

Table of Contents


What exactly does a Radiation Therapist do?

In general, Radiation Therapists are tasked with administering radiation treatments to patients with cancer and other diseases. In addition, they must determine the exact location of cancer and then explain the formulated treatment plan.

Patients must also be protected by unnecessary exposure, along with the Radiation Therapist. You will also be tasked with operating the machinery that administers the radiation to shrink or remove cancerous tumors. You will also keep an eye on your patient’s reactions and keep detailed patient records. 

How much money does a Radiation Therapist earn?

The BLS states that as of May 2020, a Radiation Therapist earned $86,850 annually, with the highest 10% earning upwards of $132,930 or more per year. 

What’s the job growth outlook for Radiation Therapists?

The expected job growth rate for radiation therapy is positive at 7% between 2019 and 2029. As people age and the diagnosis of cancer prevails in many, the need for Radiation Therapists will increase. 

What kind of work schedule can I expect as a Radiation Therapist?

Since most radiation treatments are planned ahead of time through appointments, most Radiation Therapists work a regular 40-hour week, Monday through Friday. 

How do I become a Radiation Therapist?

Generally speaking, becoming a Radiation Therapist will require some specific training, such as earning an Associate degree in the field to begin your career. Although most employers prefer an Associate (or even a Bachelor’s) degree, some entry-level jobs only require a certificate program. 

What will I learn in an RT degree program?

You will learn about radiation therapy practices, as well as: 

  • Scientific Theories & Research Methodology
  • Human Anatomy
  • Physics
  • Algebra
  • Computer Science
  • Physiology
  • And, much more!

Should my Radiation Therapist program be accredited?

Yes, your educational program should be recognized by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). 

How long does it take to become a Radiation Therapist?

If you earn an Associate degree in the field, it will take you two years on average.

What skills do I need to be a Radiation Therapist?

Besides the obvious technical training, you must be detail-oriented and have excellent people skills. You should also be able to lift and move patients and stand on your feet for long periods of time. And… don’t forget your compassion as you care for hurting or perhaps, terminally ill patients.  

Where does a Radiation Therapist work?

Radiation Therapists are an intricate part of the oncology team, as they work closely with physicians, other nurses, and other types of specialists. They often work in hospitals, cancer care clinics, outpatient facilities, and doctor’s offices. 

Does a Radiation Therapist need to be licensed?

Yes, in most states, a Radiation Therapist must pass a national certification exam to gain licensure.

Is working with radiation a safe job?

Of course, working in radiation comes with some occupational hazard risks; however, learning how to minimize exposure and how to be safe will be part of your training. 

Can I become a Radiation Therapist online?

Online programs in this field may be hard to find unless they are certificate programs or Bachelor’s programs designed to help you advance in your field.

Although some programs may be considered “online,” you may need to plan on some on-campus attendance for clinical lab work. Check with your program’s specifics before signing on if you are looking for a program that is primarily presented through a distance-learning option. 

What are the differences between a Radiation Therapist and a Radiologic Technologist?

As they both work in the field of radiation, they do have different job descriptions. The Radiation Therapist administers radiation to cure or decrease the cancer tumor in the body. The Radiologic Technologist will perform imaging techniques to determine the location of cancer for a proper diagnosis to be treated.