We asked 135 radiology professionals their opinions on the current job market for radiology technologists, an issue that seems to be weighing heavy on the profession, and has cultivated some pretty strong opinions about the politics involved in imaging schools and accreditation bodies. 53% of our survey participants attributed the main cause of job shortages in the profession to imaging schools accepting too many students per class, 17% of participants blamed the economy, and 10% identified technologists working to a later retirement age as the main cause.
According to the latest ASRT survey, the vacancy rates for all imaging modalities have dropped significantly since 2003. The modality seeing the biggest hit is Cardiovascular Intervention, dropping 11.1%, and Nuclear Medicine close behind dropping 9.5%. Our survey participants identified Radiography and Nuclear Medicine as the modalities in the lowest demand (43% and 35% respectively), while 41% felt Sonography was in the highest demand.
The statistic that speaks the loudest to the current job climate for RTs and CNMTs is that 57% of those surveyed knew more than 5 technologists that were either unemployed, or employed with limited/decreased hours, due to the inability to find work. Overall, 94% identified knowing at least 1 technologist (including themselves) that could not find full-time work in their field. While some professionals attribute this to the overall reduction in work due to the economy, others argue that this statistic of unemployment is too high to blame entirely on budget cuts.
Some professionals feel that imaging schools are doing a disservice to the profession by not taking measures to reduce class size, thereby helping the demand for the profession. 81% of or participants thought that accreditation bodies should take action to limit the number of students admitted into imaging schools in response to the current surplus of techs. While the overwhelming majority felt this responsibility lay with the professional oversight in the industry, some participants who disagreed commented that it is the responsibility of students to research the job market before applying. While others agreed that to be true, they noted the students are not the only ones suffering due to the size of graduating classes. Many technologists who have been in the field for years are now unable to find work, being passed up for new grads to decrease salary costs. Many participants also noted they were being told they were “overqualified” for tech positions, so new grads were being hired. Additionally, numerous new-grads have found themselves without jobs, over a year after graduation from the programs. With no employment and experience directly after graduation, many new grads find themselves with a terrible disadvantage in competition for open positions.
So with all this being said, how did Radiologic Technology make it to U.S. News’ Best Careers of 2011? Radiology technologists are proud of their profession, skill set, and the role they play in patient diagnostics and medical advancement; however, most are shocked to see it pop up as a smart career move in this job market. U.S. News identifies an expectation of job growth in the field due to the aging population leading to an increased need for diagnostic imaging. After publishing the article in December of last year, techs were fast to comment on the site about their own experiences in the radiology field, some accusing U.S. News of being irresponsible to publish an article promoting entrance into a field with such a high unemployment rate.
Our 135 survey participants represent 32 states and 7 modalities.
Advice given by techs answering our survey to help in getting and maintaining work includes: multi-modality certification, relocation, networking, searching for work in education, application, sales, and health IT, and patience!
For more career advice for rad techs, read previous posts: Career Advice for Technologists in a Shrinking Job Market & Fearing a Professional Rut.
Articles on the technologist job market and field:
Radiology Careers Job Postings: