Radiation Therapy Training

If you are interested in an allied health care profession and want to work in the field of cancer treatment, you may have wondered how to become a radiation therapist. Radiation therapists work with oncologists and radiologists to administer radiation treatment through specialized machines. They must have extensive experience working with some of today's high-tech machines and technologies, and will work closely with patients before and after the treatment to monitor their progress. Radiation therapy is used to reduce the size of a tumor in cancer patients and the treatment process can last for several weeks and months.

Here's what you need to know about radiation therapist training programs and completing radiation therapy training.

Guide on How to Become a Radiation Therapist

Learning how to become a radiation therapist can help you decide if this truly is the right career path for you. Radiation therapist training programs are available at many colleges, universities and medical training centers around the country, but you will need to choose a program that meets your career goals and provides you with the level of training you need to be successful throughout your career. If you already have a medical degree or a bachelor's degree in a related field, you may only need to complete a certification program. Radiation therapist training programs for certification typically last about 12 months and include extensive hands-on training courses.

If you don't have any type of college degree, you can pursue a bachelor's degree in radiation therapy and work towards certification during your last year before graduation. Some professionals choose to complete a master's degree so that they can advance in their careers or take on a teaching or training position in the field.

In addition to completing a degree and certification program, you will need to obtain a state license to practice. As of 2011, 32 states require radiation therapists to be licensed. You will need to review licensing requirements with your state's Department of Health and complete appropriate paperwork to get your official license.

Length of Radiation Therapist Training Programs

Radiation therapist training programs typically last between one to four years in length, depending on the level of study. Certificate programs can usually be completed in one to two years, while associate's degree programs can be completed in two years. Most employers prefer candidates who have completed at least a bachelor's degree in radiation therapy, and these programs are typically four years in length. Master's degree programs are two years in length, and doctoral degree programs in radiation therapy run from one to four years or more depending on the extent of research studies the student wants to complete.

Completing Radiation Therapy Training Online

Some schools offer the option to complete a portion of radiation therapy training online. Online courses may include web-based lectures and discussion groups on some of the core competencies such as human anatomy, algebra, computer science, research processes and machine protocol. However, the bulk of radiation therapist training will need to be completed at a medical facility, college campus or other approved training center. Hands-on training is critical for this type of degree program because radiation therapists need to know how to operate various types of equipment, learn standard protocol and safety measures in the medical environment, and also learn how to interact with patients and office staff.