What Do Radiation Therapists Do?
Radiation therapists administer radiation therapy treatments to cancer patients using machines called linear accelerators, which precisely target the cancer cells. As part of a medical radiation oncology team, radiation therapists work with a radiation oncologist and radiation physicist to develop individual treatment plans. Radiation therapists prepare the patient, set up the machinery, operate the machinery, and monitor each radiation session closely. Radiation therapists observe patient reactions, provide nutrition recommendation, and help with nursing care. They also keep detailed records of their patients’ treatments.
Radiation therapists do a fair amount of lifting and must be able to help disabled patients get on and off treatment tables. Radiation therapists generally work 40 hours a week, and unlike workers in some other health care occupations, they typically work only during the day. Working with cancer patients can be stressful, but most radiation therapists also find it rewarding. Because they work around radioactive materials, radiation therapists take great care to ensure that they are not exposed to dangerous levels of radiation. By following standard safety procedures, radiation therapists can prevent overexposure.
To learn more about radiation therapists, go to: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/radiation-therapists.htm.
Where Do Radiation Therapists Work?
The majority of radiation therapists work in hospitals or cancer treatment centers. Some also work in physician’s offices and laboratories.
What Do Radiation Therapists Earn?
In 2022, the average annual income reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for radiation therapists in the United States was $98,340. The New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) reports that, in 2023, radiation therapists in New York earned a median annual salary of $113,794 (radiation therapists in the 25th percentile made approximately $87,238 while those in the 75th percentile made approximately $164,824).
Supply and Demand
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the number of jobs for radiation therapists in the U.S. will increase by 6% between 2021 and 2031. The New York State Department of Labor projects that the number of jobs for in the state will increase by 16% between 2020 and 2030.
The risk of cancer increases as people age, so the aging population in the U.S. is expected to cause an increase in the number of people needing treatment. In addition, early diagnoses and the development of more sophisticated and effective treatment techniques will lead to an increased demand for radiation therapists. Growth is likely to be rapid across all practice settings, including hospitals, physicians’ offices, and outpatient centers.
For more information on projections of radiation therapists by New York State labor regions, click here.
New York Educational Requirements
While some employers will accept applicants with an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree in radiation therapy is often preferred.
Some radiation therapists complete either of an associate or bachelor’s degree program in radiography (which concentrates on radiological imaging) and then also complete a radiation therapy program. This training lasts a year.
The New York State Department of Health has a list of 2 year and 4 year Schools, Colleges, and Programs for radiation therapy training on their website: https://www.health.ny.gov/professionals/doctors/radiological/schlist2.htm
New York Licensure Requirements
In New York, radiation therapists are classified as a subset of radiologic technologists, and must have a license. To obtain a license, radiation therapists must graduate from an accredited radiation therapy program, adhere to established ethical standards, and pass the certification examination given by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), www.arrt.org.
Students seeking an education in radiation therapy should contact their college financial aid office to learn about funding and scholarship opportunities. Students may also apply for financial aid through a number of state and federal aid programs. More information is available at: www.highered.nysed.gov/postsecondary-services.html.
Education Programs in New York (subject to change)
|Erie Community College
121 Ellicott St
Buffalo, NY 14203
|Stony Brook University
School of Health Technology & Management
101 Nicolls Road
Stony Brook, NY 11794
4513 Manhattan College Parkway
Bronx, NY 10471
|Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
School of Radiation Therapy
1275 York Ave
New York, NY 10065
|Nassau Community College
1 Education Drive
Garden City, NY 11530
|Center for Allied Health Education
1401 Kings Highway
Brooklyn, NY 11229
|SUNY Upstate Medical University
750 East Adams Street
(315) 464 5540
Additional Web Links
The American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology: http://www.astro.org/;
the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group: http://www.rtog.org/;
the American Society of Radiologic Technologists: www.asrt.org;
or, the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), www.arrt.org.[whohit]Radiation Therapists[/whohit]