Radiation Therapist Jobs

Training and Education Jobs and Salaries

Radiation therapists held about 15,000 jobs. About 75 percent work in hospitals, and about 15 percent work in the offices of physicians. A small proportion of radiation therapists work in outpatient care centers. Employment of radiation therapists is expected to increase much faster than the average from 2008 to 2016, and job prospects should be good. Employment of radiation therapists is projected to grow by 25 percent between 2006 and 2016, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.

As the U.S. population grows and an increasing share of it is in the older age groups, the number of people needing treatment is expected to increase and to spur demand for radiation therapists. In addition, as radiation technology advances and is able to treat more types of cancer, radiation therapy will be prescribed more often. Job prospects are expected to be good. Job openings will result from employment growth and from the need to replace workers who retire or leave the occupation for other reasons. Applicants who are certified should have the best opportunities.

Median annual earnings of wage-and-salary radiation therapists are around $66,000. The middle fifty percent earn between $54,000 and $78,500. The lowest ten percent earn less than $45,000, and the highest ten percent earn more than $92,000. Median annual earnings in the industries that employ the largest numbers of radiation therapists are as follows: jobs in outpatient care centers pay around $74,000, jobs in offices of physicians pay around $70,050 and jobs in general medical and surgical hospitals pay close to 63,500. Some employers also reimburse their employees for the cost of continuing education.

Radiation therapists work in hospitals or in cancer treatment centers. These places are clean, well lighted, and well ventilated. Therapists do a considerable amount of lifting and must be able to help disabled patients get on and off treatment tables. They spend most of their time on their feet, generally work 40 hours a week, and unlike those in other health care occupations, they normally work only during the day, however, because radiation therapy emergencies do occur, some therapists are required to be on call and may have to work outside of their normal hours.

Working with cancer patients can be stressful, but many radiation therapists also find it rewarding. Because they work around radioactive materials, radiation therapists take great care to ensure that they are not exposed to dangerous levels of radiation. Following standard safety procedures can prevent overexposure.

Radiation therapists use advanced machinery to administer medical treatment to patients. Other occupations that perform similar duties include radiologic technologists and technicians, diagnostic medical sonographers, nuclear medicine technologists, cardiovascular technologists and technicians, dental hygienists, respiratory therapists, physical therapist assistants and aides, registered nurses, and physicians and surgeons. Other occupations that build relationships with patients and provide them with emotional support include nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides; counselors; psychologists; social workers; and social and human service assistants.