In today’s day of age, the discovery of nuclear power and energy as well as all that it can do is astounding, and has been taken to drastic and extreme levels.
Within just the past decade, there have been so many more discoveries when it comes to the realm of science, medicine, and especially technology.
From all of the haywire in the media about the nuclear bombs of North Korea, to the number of doctors and scientists trying to find a cure for cancer (as well as what causes it), our society has advanced its knowledge of these sources of energy and what it is capable of by a lot.
However, so many more advancements are taking place in the medical field as well. And believe it or not, nuclear technology isn’t limited to the field of science, but also in the medical field.
In fact, there are even people with specialties in nuclear energy and its effects on health and medicine, and someone with this specialty is typically known as a nuclear medicine technologist.
And if you’re considering going into the medical field, or you want to learn more about this interesting nuclear energy and technology, then there are several reasons why you should consider becoming a nuclear medicine technologist.
From the low entry level of education, to the great salary, and everything in between, there are so many interesting facts about this perhaps underrated group of medical professionals.
But, what exactly does a nuclear medicine technologist do? How much education is required in order to get the job? What’s the employment rate like? And what is the nuclear medicine technologist salary range?
I will be answering all of these questions and more in this nuclear medicine technologist guide.
What is a Nuclear Medicine Technologist?
Before we begin, let me answer the extremely important question: what exactly is a nuclear medicine technologist, and what do they do on a typical day of the job?
First of all, if you are a nuclear medicine technologist, you can generally work anywhere. Many technologists work in hospitals, doctors’ offices, diagnostic laboratories, and imaging clinics.
The main job of a nuclear medicine technologist is to prepare radioactive drugs, and then administer them to patients. These patients will use the radioactive drugs for either imaging or therapeutic purposes.
However, a nuclear medicine technologist does a lot more than that and are highly involved in the patients’ examinations and diagnoses. Not only do they administer the radioactive drugs, but they also take a look at the patient’s body to determine whether it is functioning properly or not and help make a diagnosis based on their findings.
All in all, a nuclear medicine technologist performs some tasks very similar to any other highly specialized medical professional.
However, their diagnoses are normally ones of diseases and a range of conditions, rather than simple body, bone, or muscle dysfunctions.
But, what exactly makes up the field of nuclear medicine technology?
Nuclear medicine includes a combination of many subjects and specialties, which give it its very unique and specific place in the medical field. These include imaging, patient care, chemistry, physics, mathematics, computer technology, and of course, medicine.
The radioactive drugs that they administer to the patients are typically in small portions and are called radiopharmaceuticals. However, they are not just limited to these. A nuclear medicine technologist can also administer other drugs to their patients, if it suits the diagnosis of their condition.
In order to make the right radiopharmaceuticals and ensure that they are going to treat the right part of the patient’s body, nuclear medicine technologists use camera systems and imagery to detect the drugs. These images also give them very precise portraits of the part of the patient’s body that is going to be affected.
What Exactly is a Radiopharmaceutical?
You now know what a nuclear medicine technologist is, but you might still not know exactly what a radiopharmaceutical is.
As I mentioned earlier, this is just the scientific word for a radioactive compound or drug that is to be administered to a patient for a certain disease or body condition.
However, it gets a lot more complicated than that. A radiopharmaceutical is made up of unstable atoms called radionuclides. These radionuclides, in return, emit spontaneous radiation.
When taking images and using the computer camera systems to examine certain parts of the patient’s body, a nuclear medicine technologist gets to detect whether these specific areas are being affected by abnormally low or high concentrations of radioactivity.
Once it has been determined whether or not the patient is being affected by concentrations of radioactivity that are either higher or lower than the normal person’s, then the nuclear medicine technologist can administer the certain radioactive drug (or, radiopharmaceutical) in order to help that part of the body.
What are the Responsibilities of a Nuclear Medicine Technologist?
Now that you know the overall, basic job of a nuclear medicine technologist, it’s time to discuss more further into detail about what they actually do and what they can do.
Some of the responsibilities of a nuclear medicine technologist also require them to use and operate computed tomography, which can be abbreviated as CT, and magnetic resonance imaging, which is commonly abbreviated as MRI.
These CTs and MRIs are scanners, which are used in order to help out and cooperate with the other typical procedures of nuclear medicine technology.
However, these responsibilities more specifically include the following, and sometimes even more:
Those are just some of the basic responsibilities of a nuclear medicine technologist.
Nuclear Medicine Technologist Salary Range
So, now that you know exactly what a nuclear medicine technologist is, what they do, and what a radiopharmaceutical is, it’s time to answer this burning question:
How much exactly does a typical nuclear medicine technologist make? What is the salary range?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the year of 2017, the median salary of a nuclear medicine technologist was $75,660 per year.
In the end, this was also equivalent to each nuclear medicine technologist making about $36.38 per hour, if converted into by the hour pay.
As for the entire salary range, according to Salary.com, the least amount that a nuclear medicine technologist is likely to make in a year is a salary of $70,460. On the other hand, the highest that a nuclear medicine technologist is likely to make is $86,020 per year.
Overall, the range of the salary is not very big compared to other jobs (and especially those in the medical field), as it only differs by about $16,000.
Education Requirements of a Nuclear Medicine Technologist
You know pretty much all of the basics about being a nuclear medicine technologist, except for this one important part…
How exactly do you become one?
While there are so many jobs in the medical field that require you to have graduate degrees, such as master’s and even doctorate’s, you might be surprised to find that the education requirements for becoming a nuclear medicine technologist is actually quite different.
To become a nuclear medicine technologist, it is only necessary to have an associate’s degree.
Yup, you heard right. Just a 2-year associate’s degree from an accredited nuclear medicine technology program is all you need to become a nuclear medicine technologist. However, you don’t have to just stop at an associate’s degree. You can also go on to get your bachelor’s degree.
However, while obtaining only an associate’s degree is all that is absolutely necessary, it is also important to know that most nuclear medicine technologists go on to receive a certificate and become certified.
Becoming a Nuclear Medicine Technologist is a Decision Worth Considering.
If you are interested in anything from the medical field, to biology, to computer science, or anything in between, then becoming a nuclear medicine technologist might be the right career choice for you.
Also, it does not take a lot of time in school, as you only need an associate’s degree, which also means that it doesn’t take up near as much money, either.
In addition to this, the nuclear medicine technologist salary range is also very good for the little amount of education required. This is an opportunity that is rarely given, and especially when it comes to the medical field.
So, whether you have just graduated high school and are looking for the right career path, or you have already been graduated and are considering going back to college, the field of nuclear medicine technology is definitely a decision worthy of consideration.
For just two years of college but a great salary, you are looking at less time with loans and a good job that makes good money.