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Career profile Radiation Therapist

Also known as Chief Radiation Therapist (Chief RT), Computed Tomography Simulation Therapist (CT Simulation Therapist), Dosimetrist, Lead Radiation Therapist, Medical Dosimetrist, Radiation Therapist, Radiation Therapy Technologist (RTT), Registered Radiation Therapist, Senior Radiation Therapist, Staff Radiation Therapist

Radiation Therapist

Also known as Chief Radiation Therapist (Chief RT), Computed Tomography Simulation Therapist (CT Simulation Therapist), Dosimetrist

Interests Profile
  • Social
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
Pay Range
$60,080 - $132,930 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Active Listening
  • Critical Thinking
Knowledge Areas
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Medicine and Dentistry
  • Physics
Core tasks
  • Administer prescribed doses of radiation to specific body parts, using radiation therapy equipment according to established practices and standards.
  • Position patients for treatment with accuracy, according to prescription.
  • Follow principles of radiation protection for patient, self, and others.
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What does a Radiation Therapist do?

Radiation Therapists provide radiation therapy to patients as prescribed by a radiation oncologist according to established practices and standards.

In addition, Radiation Therapists

  • duties may include reviewing prescription and diagnosis; acting as liaison with physician and supportive care personnel; preparing equipment, such as immobilization, treatment, and protection devices; and maintaining records, reports, and files,
  • may assist in dosimetry procedures and tumor localization.

What kind of tasks does a Radiation Therapist perform regularly?

Radiation Therapists are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Administer prescribed doses of radiation to specific body parts, using radiation therapy equipment according to established practices and standards.
  • Position patients for treatment with accuracy, according to prescription.
  • Follow principles of radiation protection for patient, self, and others.
  • Review prescription, diagnosis, patient chart, and identification.
  • Conduct most treatment sessions independently, in accordance with the long-term treatment plan and under the general direction of the patient's physician.
  • Enter data into computer and set controls to operate or adjust equipment or regulate dosage.
  • Check radiation therapy equipment to ensure proper operation.
  • Observe and reassure patients during treatment and report unusual reactions to physician or turn equipment off if unexpected adverse reactions occur.
  • Educate, prepare, and reassure patients and their families by answering questions, providing physical assistance, and reinforcing physicians' advice regarding treatment reactions or post-treatment care.
  • Maintain records, reports, or files as required, including such information as radiation dosages, equipment settings, or patients' reactions.
  • Prepare or construct equipment, such as immobilization, treatment, or protection devices.
  • Check for side effects, such as skin irritation, nausea, or hair loss to assess patients' reaction to treatment.
  • Help physicians, radiation oncologists, or clinical physicists to prepare physical or technical aspects of radiation treatment plans, using information about patient condition and anatomy.
  • Calculate actual treatment dosages delivered during each session.
  • Photograph treated area of patient and process film.
  • Act as liaison with physicist and supportive care personnel.
  • Provide assistance to other healthcare personnel during dosimetry procedures and tumor localization.
  • Schedule patients for treatment times.
  • Train or supervise student or subordinate radiotherapy technologists.

The above responsibilities are specific to Radiation Therapists. More generally, Radiation Therapists are involved in several broader types of activities:

Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Controlling Machines and Processes
Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Assisting and Caring for Others
Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.

What is a Radiation Therapist salary?

The median salary for a Radiation Therapist is $86,850, and the average salary is $94,300. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Radiation Therapist salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Radiation Therapists earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Radiation Therapists earn less than $60,080 per year, 25% earn less than $71,350, 75% earn less than $107,830, and 90% earn less than $132,930.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Radiation Therapists is expected to change by 9.0%, and there should be roughly 1,100 open positions for Radiation Therapists every year.

Median annual salary
$86,850
Typical salary range
$60,080 - $132,930
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
9.0%

What personality traits are common among Radiation Therapists?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Radiation Therapist are usually higher in their Social, Realistic, and Conventional interests.

Radiation Therapists typically have strong Social interests. Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.

Also, Radiation Therapists typically have strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Lastly, Radiation Therapists typically have strong Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Radiation Therapist tend to value Relationships, Support, and Achievement.

Most importantly, Radiation Therapists very strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Second, Radiation Therapists very strongly value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Lastly, Radiation Therapists strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Radiation Therapists must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, concern for others, and dependability.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Radiation Therapists, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Concern for Others
Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Cooperation
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.

What education and training do Radiation Therapists need?

Radiation Therapists often have training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.

Radiation Therapists usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Radiation Therapists

  • 0.2% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 0.8% completed high school or secondary school
  • 8.3% completed some college coursework
  • 34.7% earned a Associate's degree
  • 45.0% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 7.7% earned a Master's degree
  • 3.3% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Radiation Therapists

Radiation Therapists may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as customer and personal service, medicine and dentistry, or physics knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Radiation Therapists might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Medicine and Dentistry
Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
Physics
Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub-atomic structures and processes.
Mathematics
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Computers and Electronics
Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

Important Abilities needed by Radiation Therapists

Radiation Therapists must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Radiation Therapists need abilities such as oral comprehension, oral expression, and problem sensitivity in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Radiation Therapists, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Written Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

Critical Skills needed by Radiation Therapists

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Radiation Therapists frequently use skills like reading comprehension, active listening, and critical thinking to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Radiation Therapists, ranked by their relative importance.

Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Social Perceptiveness
Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Operations Monitoring
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.