Radiation Therapist Career Description and Jobs

A variety of radiation therapy jobs and career opportunities exist in oncology departments, cancer centers and healthcare organizations around the country. Radiation therapists work with radiation oncologists and cancer teams to reduce the size of a tumor using high-radiation technology and equipment. They must undergo a specialized training program in order to learn how to operate different types of equipment and follow instructions for radiation therapy from an oncologist. Radiation therapy jobs can be very rewarding and also command among the highest salaries for those in the medical technician field. Reviewing a sample radiation therapist job description can help you decide if a radiation therapist career is right for you.

Types of Radiation Therapy Jobs

Radiation therapists typically work with an oncology team and cancer treatment specialists and may be promoted to a chief radiation therapist or take on a management position at some point in their careers. Radiation physicists and oncology doctors depend on a radiation therapist to calibrate the machines used during radiation therapy and administer the appropriate amount of radiation to various parts of the patient's body.

Radiation therapists may also work alongside oncologists and dosimetrists, and typically work directly with the patient to ensure they are assuming the correct position under the radiation machines, and are adequately protected from the equipment.

Types of radiation therapy jobs available include:

  • Radiation therapist
  • Chief radiation therapist
  • Dosimetrist
  • Radiation therapy dosimetrist
  • Radiation technologist
  • Radiation therapy technologist

Elements of a Radiation Therapist Job Description

Taking a close look at a radiation therapist job description can help you decide if a radiation therapist career is the right fit for you. A job description for radiation therapists typically includes educational requirements, hands-on training experience requirements and technical skills. Many radiation therapists have an associate's or bachelor's degree in radiography or a related field. Others complete just a 12-month certification course in radiation therapy. Employers prefer to hire those who have at least a bachelor's degree and some type of certification.

The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) offers a widely-accepted certification program. Any requirements for ARRT or other certifications will be listed in the radiation therapist job description. ARRT certification is only valid for a single year and therapists will need to complete continuing education requirements in order to keep their certificate current. Some states also require licensure, so any licensing requirements will also be listed in the radiation therapist job description.

Training for a Radiation Therapist Career

Training programs for a radiation therapist career typically last between two to four years or more, depending on the level of education you pursue and the type of certification program you choose to complete. Completing at least a bachelor’s degree in radiation therapy and a certification program from ARRT can prepare you for a rewarding entry-level job in this growing field. Some schools and training centers offer specialized training programs in fields such as therapeutic radiology or dosimetrist training. These radiation therapist career paths may lead to higher than average salaries and job opportunities beyond the standard radiation therapy role.