Ultimate X Ray Technician Salary Guide

A career as an X Ray technician (also known as a radiologic technologist) can potentially be very rewarding both financially and from the perspective of job satisfaction.  Individuals that enjoy working firsthand with patients and physicians to diagnose diseases and illnesses are particularly well suited to this dynamic field. (read more about the job description).  And while X ray tech salary levels vary greatly depending on a few factors that we’ll cover later in this article, they can reach as high $60,000 per year.  Further specialization and education can push salary levels even higher, into the low six figures.

The field of radiography encompasses a wide variety of specialties including X Ray, Sonography, Nuclear Medicine, MRI, CT Scan, and more.

In order to excel in this field, individuals must be comfortable working in a variety of environments and with a wide variety of people.  Additionally they must enjoy working with technology on a day to day basis.

If a career in this field appeals to you, get started today.  Finding the right school is the first step on the path to a secure and rewarding career.

Technician Salary Data

While the economy in the U.S. has seen little improvement over the last five years, hiring in the field of medical technology is set to increase dramatically in the coming years.  Much of this will be driven by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare.  The number of previously uninsured that will soon have access to healthcare is estimated to be around 20 million.

This promises to put a strain on the existing healthcare infrastructure.  Hospitals, private practices, imaging facilities and other healthcare providers will be looking to hire imaging professionals in great numbers to meet this increased demand.

 According to the most recent data, the average salary for a practicing X Ray tech is around $52,000 per year.  This can vary dramatically based on a couple of variables.  One of these is geographic location.  Areas of high demand pay much higher salaries.  States such as California, Nevada, and Massachusetts offer some of the highest pay in the country.  This is due in part to a shortage of qualified technicians.  Areas such as Florida have the opposite problem.  Even with the highest average age of any state, Florida still has a glut of technicians and other medical personnel.  Nationally salaries typically fall between $41,000 and $81,000 per year.  Obviously experience also plays a large role in overall salary level.  Someone just out of school shouldn’t get their hopes up for landing a $80k/year job.

Another variable that plays an important role in your overall pay is the facility in which you practice.  Imaging clinics typically pay the best.  They are closely followed by hospitals.  Outpatient facilities and primary care physician offices pay towards the lower end of the scale.

And don’t forget all the different fields under the radiography umbrella.  The average pay for a sonographer comes in at $67,000 per year.  Other ways of earning higher income include certifications through such organizations as the American Registry of Radiologic Technicians (ARRT).

Of course experience plays a large role in the amount of money you can make in any particular field.  And this is especially true in the medical industry.  Technicians with 10 years or more of experience can often make up to 50% more than those that are just starting out.  X ray technician salary levels for those that have 10 years of experience or more can often be above $60,000 per year.

Below is a chart comparing the top 10 states for hourly rates in the field of X Ray Technician

Salary Data by State

Hourly Rate
New Jersey$28.74
New York$28.66
Wages based on median salary as calculated by CareerVoyages.gov

Today’s Job Market For Radiologic Technologists

As most people are aware, the job market is extremely difficult right now.  Unemployment numbers have shown little improvement over the last four years, and while government numbers for newly unemployed have stabilized of late, much of this is because more and more people are dropping out of the workforce entirely.  This is not to heap the blame on the current administration.  These are just the facts.  And that’s all we have to deal with.

The health care industry is no exception to the current economic trend.  And in many ways it is worse.  Doctors and hospital systems are facing difficult times.  Their overall cost of doing business continues to go up.  This is primarily due to increased regulations, higher cost of insurance, and general price increases.  At the same time, they are hit with lower levels of reimbursement from programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

But much of this will change as the AFA moves forward.  While the implementation of the Affordable Care Act has been anything but smooth, eventually the program will work out the bugs.  And once this happens, current healthcare providers will need to hire in great numbers to meet the additional demands on the system.  So there is no better time than now to position yourself to take advantage of this increase in demand.

How Does This Apply Salary Expectations?

This is a complicated question.  To accurately answer it, we need to examine several issues.

First and foremost is the overall job market.  As previously stated, the difficult economic situation in the U.S. has left no sector untouched.  And for that reason, hospitals and other health care providers are doing everything they can to reduce costs.  In many cases this means reducing staffing levels.

This manifests itself in a couple ways.  For full time positions, employers are looking for professionals that can wear multiple hats.  So rather than hiring a full time x ray technician, they’ll have someone on staff that is certified as a a radiologic technologist, but can also perform other technical duties or even a qualified nurse.  Or perhaps they’ll use the same technologist to perform X-rays, sonograms, and perhaps even CT scans.

The second is the trend of hospitals and health care providers using part-time contractors rather than hiring full time employees.  This allows them to avoid paying health benefits, payroll taxes, and contributions to retirement savings plans.  All of this helps them with their bottom line.  But oftentimes it means one individual will be asked to fill roles at multiple facilities.  They are then paid only for their time on site, and often at a low rate.  This only compounds the fact that they will be responsible for their own health insurance and retirement savings.

Many enterprising professionals will contract with multiple hospitals and health care systems.  This gives them a broader base of opportunity.  But this can often mean a good deal of travel, and this is not always an option for those individuals with families.  Most likely this is something you will need to assess once you make it into the job market.  Once you have found gainful employment in one location, you can begin searching out more work if it’s necessary.

Just knowing this going in will be helpful.  And keep in mind that many of the effects of the ACA  have been to reduce hours to below 29 so as to avoid having to pay health care benefits.  Hospital workers and technicians are no exception.

So What Can YOU Do?

Hopefully by this point you understand that just by completing an 18 month program on radiological technology you’re not going to be showered with job opportunities wherever you wish to work.  But there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Salaries for technicians in all fields of radiography continue to rise.  In fact, since 2004, the average salary has risen by more than 20%.  The key is knowing where to look for these jobs.  Here are a few things you can do to increase your chances of landing the job you want once you’ve completed your training.

Multiple Modalities

While it is a great accomplishment to achieve your certification, by itself it isn’t enough to ensure a high paying job.  To stand out in a crowd of applicants you need to offer value.  One surefire way of doing this is to study and master multiple modalities.  Radiography is made up of many fields, some with much higher demand than others.  Specialties such as mammography, sonography, and radiation therapy all require additional schooling, but offer a great deal more opportunity once you graduate.  And since hospitals are looking for individuals that can where multiple hats, you’ll be in an excellent position to offer just that.  Not only that, but X ray tech salary averages are well below those who carry certificates in multiple modalities.

As well as achieving competence in multiple modalities, you’ll often find that working for multiple care facilities can be a great way to increase your overall pay.  While  salary levels in your area may be low compared to the national average, you can enhance your total take home pay by working in several care facilities.

Plan On Creating A Network

Don’t expect a career to just land in your lap.  Those individuals that are landing great jobs create these opportunities themselves.  Start early.  While in school, form strong relationships with your teachers.  Not only can they help you with coursework, but they’ve graduated students that came years before you that are now well established in the medical community.  Anything you can do to broaden your network is worth the effort.

Look for trade associations in your area.  These are great ways to network.  And at the same time you’ll be introduced to practicing professionals in your area.  Take this opportunity to find out what particular hospitals and private facilities are looking for in new applicants.  Once you have this information, USE IT.  If radiology manager tells you they’ve got way too many resumes for X-ray techs and no job openings, find out what they don’t have.  Then refocus your studies on where there is demand.

Online resources such as Linkdin.com can be a great way to network with individuals of similar professions, backgrounds and interests.

Not only are you creating valuable contacts through this process, but you’re fine tuning your education to what is in demand.  You will find this is much more efficient than trying to create demand where there is none.

Talk To Trade Associations

Trade associations don’t want their members to be unemployed.  If you’re a future member of the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), talk to people there to find out where the demand is.  They are in touch with doctors and hospitals all over the country and have a great feel for the pulse of the marketplace.  Even if you are unable to relocate for a position, perhaps they can direct towards an area of study that is highly sought after in your particular geographic location.  Associations like the ARRT and the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) offer student memberships as well, so take advantage of these programs.

Do Extra Work

Just like in high school, extra credit is well worth the effort.  Go the extra mile when you’re doing your on-site clinical training.  Even if it’s not your responsibility, clean equipment, make sure supplies are well stocked, wipe down films etc.  While on-site you have a unique opportunity to impress the very people that might be hiring in the future.  Remember that they see people coming through training all the time.  Leave them with with a lasting impression of your work ethic and it will pay off.  Even for those just exiting school, entry level salaries certainly justify putting your nose to the grindstone.

A career as an X Ray tech or any other radiological technologist job can be both challenging and rewarding.  Those that enjoy working with medical professionals to help diagnose and treat patients will find a lifetime of job satisfaction, and will be well compensated for their efforts.  Start off on the right foot by choosing your area of practice based on existing demand in your area.  This will help to insure you can quickly find a job that fulfills your financial expectations and gives you the satisfaction you are looking for.  It will also help to ensure that you are happy with your level of compensation.

It’s much more efficient to service an unmet demand than to try to create demand where there isn’t any.  If you consider all of these factors you should be able to earn a comfortable living in the field of radiography.  Just remember that achieving the highest X ray technician salary levels require you to put in the work, and do what it takes to separate you from your competition.

X Ray Technician Education