PROS / Radiation therapists have the overall highest salary averages of any healthcare career we reviewed.
CONS / This career has the fewest number of positions nationwide of any career on our review.
VERDICT / Radiation therapist is a great medical career consideration for its high salary range and low unemployment rates.
Radiation therapists oversee radiation treatments for patients with cancer and other diseases treated by radiation. Therapists administer the treatment and monitor the equipment and patients. These health care workers make sure radiation dosages are correct, and they track and monitor patient side effects. This medical career has a high salary and excellent scheduling flexibility. While there is high growth projected over the next ten years, there are fewer overall positions for this career than for other careers we reviewed. For these reasons, this career receives the Top Ten Reviews Silver Award.
Radiation therapist is the highest-paying medical career on our review. The lowest salary range is higher than many other careers' mid and high salaries, and the salaries are significantly higher than the national average. This data is based on information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median salary is the highest of any career we reviewed. This is not an average, but is rather the salary number that roughly half the people with this job earn more than, and half earn less than. If you're making your career decision based strictly on earning potential, radiation therapy is a good option.
Education and Opportunities
The minimum degree to get a job as a radiation therapist is an associate degree. You can also get a bachelor's degree in this field. You need to complete a radiation therapy program and obtain licensure from the state you intend to practice in. In some cases, you may be able to complete a 12-month certificate program, but most employers prefer to hire candidates with at least an associate degree. Because this career field has limited job availability, radiation therapy programs are generally small and very competitive.
After completing your degree, you also need to get state and national certification. In order to be certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, you need to pass an exam and pay a fee. Requirements for state certification vary.
Of the healthcare jobs we reviewed, radiation therapists have the lowest number of jobs nationwide. Though this career is expected to see above average growth over the next ten years, the number of positions will still be small relative to other careers in medicine. This means that though there is demand for radiation therapists, it is still a competitive field. As people age, the risk of cancer increases, so this is a career that is expected to see further growth.
Advancement options for radiation therapists include moving into a managerial position once you have enough experience. You can also continue in your education to become a dosimetrist. This position is responsible for calculating radiation dosages per cancer patient to make sure the treatment is accurate.
Radiation therapists work in several primary facility types, usually as full-time employees. Most work in hospitals, private practice offices and outpatient centers. While there are fewer opportunities that with other healthcare jobs, hospitals and private practices tend to be the most stable places to find employment.
There are also opportunities to work in clinics where you can run radiation treatments on patients and manage the radiation equipment. Government positions are also available. Because radiation therapists interact with patients often, it's beneficial to know a secondary language. You will also work on your feet for long periods and may also need to turn and lift disabled patients.
Because radiation treatments are often scheduled in advance, radiation therapists often have a set schedule. Most jobs in radiation therapy are full time, though some part-time positions are available. You may also be expected to work some swing shifts, but most radiation therapists work during regular business hours, so if you have a family and want a career, this career generally has a good work-life balance.
As a radiation therapist, you'll mostly avoid working on the weekends and holidays, and you shouldn't have to worry about any graveyard shifts.
Radiation therapist is a great, stable health care job with low unemployment rates. This medical career offers specialization and advancement opportunities, and there are several workplace types where you can find work during standard business hours. With the average salary range well on the high end for undergraduate medical careers, radiation therapist is an excellent option.