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Radiation Therapists - What They Do

How to Advance (Advancement)
Experienced radiation therapists may advance to manage radiation therapy programs in treatment centers or other healthcare facilities. Managers generally continue to treat patients while taking on management responsibilities. Other advancement opportunities include teaching, technical sales, and research. With additional training and certification, therapists also can become dosimetrists, who use complex mathematical formulas to calculate proper radiation doses.

Radiation therapists held about 15,200 jobs in 2008. About 70 percent worked in hospitals, and about 18 percent worked in the offices of physicians. A small proportion worked in outpatient care centers and medical and diagnostic laboratories.

Job Outlook
Employment is expected to increase much faster than the average, and job prospects should be good.

Job Growth
Employment of radiation therapists is projected to grow by 27 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. The growing elderly population is expected to cause an increase in the number of people needing treatment. In addition, as radiation technology becomes safer and more effective, it will be prescribed more often, leading to an increased demand for radiation therapists. Growth is likely to be rapid across all practice settings, including hospitals, physicians’ offices, and outpatient centers.

Job prospects are expected to be good. Job openings will result from employment growth and from the need to replace workers who retire or leave the occupation for other reasons. Applicants with a bachelor’s degree and related work experience may have the best opportunities.

Median annual wages of radiation therapists were $72,910 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $59,050 and $87,910. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $47,910, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $104,350. Some employers also reimburse their employees for the cost of continuing education.

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