The road to become a CT scan technologist, also known as a computerized tomography technologist, requires a person to complete a program related to radiology, complete post-program clinical work, and become certified in CT scanning. In some instances, employers have additional requirements for applicants. Certifying organizations and employers generally require continuing education following CT scanning certification.
Those who wish to become a CT scan technologist must graduate from an accredited program in radiology. The majority of programs stipulate that applicants must have a minimum of a high school diploma or graduate equivalency diploma (GED). Courses such as chemistry, physics, math, biology provide a good foundation for CT scan technologist work.
Once a person is ready to apply to a radiology program, she must decide which program is appropriate given her CT scan career goals. Certificate and associate degree programs are available, with an associate's degree being fairly standard in the industry. Technologists are different than technicians in that they are slightly more advanced, however, they supervise the technicians. Thus, a bachelor's degree program is ideal for an aspiring technologist, although it is acceptable to complete an associate degree program and advance over time with on-the-job experience.
During a radiology program, a person who wants to become a CT scan technologist takes courses such as patient safety, methods of scanning and precautions, contrast agents and software communications. Other classes include anatomy, physiology and radiation physics. During the final stage of the program, students must complete clinical work, where they learn skills such as care of equipment, positioning of patients and proper acquisition and storage of records.
Following completion of the radiology program, the next step is to become certified in radiography, nuclear medicine technology, radiation therapy, magnetic resonance imaging, or sonography. Someone who wants to become a CT scan technologist may do this through the major certifying radiology organization for her jurisdiction. In the United States, the major agency is the American Registry of Radiological Technologists (ARRT). Certification requires passing an exam that tests skills and knowledge related to radiology.
Work experience is the next major stage to become a CT scan technologist. Not all jurisdictions require additional certification from their radiologists who focus on CT work, but many do, with clinical experience serving as the foundation for CT scan technologist certification. ARRT, for instance, considers the initial registration as primary certification, with certification in CT scanning a post-primary certification. For this certification, CT scan technologists must take an additional exam and provide documentation that verifies they have completed a specific number of CT procedures, which must have occurred under a board-certified radiologist in the two years prior to application. Some hospitals have programs designed to provide this training for individuals who already have primary certification.
After CT scan certification, an individual is free to pursue work as a CT scan technologist anywhere she desires. Hospitals and clinics are the most common areas, but some positions are available in research institutions, as well. Employers have varying requirements on the amount of work experience they require technologists to have to apply, and many require additional medical certifications such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).