With the simultaneous graying and growing of the US population, careers in health care are sure to be in demand for years to come. Skyrocketing health insurance costs and the desire from providers, insurers, and patients alike for cheaper, preventive measures also mean that x-ray technologists–who help spot diseases and injuries before they’ve spiraled out of hand–are also valuable assets to any hospital, doctor’s office, or lab.
And all this demand means that x-ray techs are, and will continue to be, well-paid for their services. The mean annual salary for x-ray techs, at $54,180 in 2009, is just above the national average, in about the top 45% of earnings in the country. Nearly three-quarters of x-ray techs receive medical benefits from their employers, while 38% have vision plans, 54% are have dental insurance, and only 26% have no coverage whatsoever.
On the average, x-ray tech salaries range from $36,000 to $75,000 per year, although these figures can vary greatly, depending on certain factors:
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some of the top-paying states for x-ray technologists are Hawaii, Nevada, Massachusetts, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. In particular, the Boston, Peabody, and Quincy, MA areas pay the best, along with Northern California cities like San Jose, Fremont, and Oakland; all of the metropolitan districts compensate their x-ray techs at, around, or over $70,000 per year. While cost of living needs to be factored into any moving or work decisions, this is well above the national average.
Additionally, the BLS reports that x-ray tech pay can actually increase by going outside of the hospital system. The highest-paid technologists in the country work in medical and diagnostic laboratories and for the federal executive branch, earning $57,250 per year on average, while the mean salary for those working in hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ or dentists’ offices is $55,000 or less.
Industry and Advancement
Consistent with the findings about work settings, surveys show that knowledgeable x-ray technologists can increase their compensation by branching out into ancillary fields. While the most financially lucrative move seems to be going into the lab for research and development, at $64,800 a year, on average, x-ray techs can also make a significant jump in income by going into consulting or recruiting. BLS statistics reveal that x-ray techs working in scientific and technology consulting earn around $62,000 annually, while those who headhunt for the newest x-ray tech talent take in just under $60,000 per year.
For those who prefer to stay within the hospital or direct provider system, there are plenty of opportunities for promotions and advancement. Administrative work as a chief radiologic tech, department supervisor or director, or specialist may require a Master’s degree in Health Care or Business Administration, but can be well worth it, netting a pay raise of around $4,000 a year.
In short, the hard work of caring for patients, taking x-rays, and helping doctors diagnose and treat illnesses pays off, in up the upper echelon of careers in this country.