What Do Nuclear Medicine Technologists Do?
Nuclear medicine technologists (NMTs) use a scanner to create images of various areas of a patient’s body. They prepare radioactive drugs and administer them to patients and then monitor the characteristics and functions of tissues or organs in which the drugs localize. The radioactive drugs cause abnormal areas of the body to appear different from normal areas in the images. The particular drugs NMTs are trained to use are made from radioactive materials (radionuclides), which can help physicians detect and treat diseases. NMTs also operate the diagnostic imaging equipment that scans, detects, and maps the radioactive drug through a patient’s body to create images. The images are then produced on a computer screen or on film for a physician to interpret.
Nuclear medicine differs from other diagnostic imaging technologies because it determines the presence of disease on the basis of metabolic changes rather than changes in organ structure.
To learn more about this profession, go to: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nuclear-medicine-technologists.htm.
Where Do Nuclear Medicine Technologists Work?
The majority of NMTs are employed by hospitals, although a smaller number of NMTs are employed in the offices and clinics of physicians or in imaging clinics.
What Do Nuclear Medicine Technologists Earn?
According to the 2018 BLS, the average salary for full time, nuclear medicine technologists nationwide was $78,870, varying by specialty and geographic region. Average annual salary also varies greatly across New York State, depending on location. The NYSDOL reports that nuclear medicine technologists in New York earned an average annual salary of $85,850, (entry level-$68,320, experienced- $94,610).
Supply and Demand
Between 2016 and 2026, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the number of NMT jobs will increase by 9.8% nationwide and increase by 17.9% in New York during the same period. It is expected, however, that competition for jobs will be keen.
Employment of nuclear medicine technologists is projected to grow slower than the average of all occupations. An aging population may lead to the need for nuclear medicine technologists who can provide imaging to patients with certain medical conditions, such as heart disease. However, employment growth may be tempered as many medical facilities and third-party payers encourage the use of less costly, noninvasive imaging technologies, such as ultrasound. For more information on NMTs by New York State labor regions, 2014-2024, click here.
New York Educational Requirements
NMTs are trained in nuclear medicine technology education programs that range from one to four years in length and lead to a certificate, associate, or bachelor’s degree. Some NMTs become qualified by completing an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree program in a related health field, such as radiologic technology or nursing, and then completing a one-year certificate program in nuclear medicine technology. Courses for becoming an NMT include human anatomy and physiology, physics, chemistry, biological effects of radiation exposure, radiation protection and procedures, the use of radiopharmaceuticals, imaging techniques, and computer science. NMT education programs also include clinical experience–to practice under the supervision of a certified NMT and a physician who specializes in nuclear medicine.
New York Licensure Requirements
New York does not require NMTs to be licensed though most employers prefer to hire certified NMTs. Individuals wishing to demonstrate proficiency in their occupation may receive certification through national organizations such as the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, http://www.arrt.org or from the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board, www.nmtcb.org. ARRT and NMTCB have different requirements, but each require that an NMT must pass a comprehensive exam to become certified.
NMTs must meet the minimum federal standards on the administration of radioactive drugs and the operation of radiation detection equipment. In addition to the general certification requirements, certified NMTs must also complete a certain number of continuing education hours. This is required primarily because of the frequent technological and innovative changes in the field of nuclear medicine. Typically, NMTs must register annually with both the ARRT and the NMTCB.
Students seeking an education in nuclear medicine technology may apply for grants, awards, and scholarships through the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging. Students can also apply for financial aid through a number of state and federal aid programs. More information is available at: www.highered.nysed.gov/NYLearns/finances.htm.
Education Programs in New York (subject to change)
|Bronx Community College
(affiliated with Montefiore The University Hospital
for the Albert Einstein College of Medicine)
2155 University Avenue
Bronx, NY 10453
(718) 289-5930 or (718) 289-5100
|University at Buffalo
State University of New York
105 Parker Hall
Buffalo, NY 14214-3007
(716) 645-6900 ext.135
Radiological and Health Professions
4513 Manhattan College Parkway
Riverdale, NY 10471
(718) 862-7370 or (718) 862-8000
1000 Hempstead Avenue
Rockville Centre, NY 11571-5002
(516) 678-5000 ext. 6887
Additional Web Links
For more information about NMTs go to The American Society of Nuclear Medicine Web site at: http://www.snmmi.org/ACNM/index.aspx.