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Nuclear Medicine Technologists - What They Do

How to Advance (Advancement)
Technologists may advance to supervisory positions or to chief technologist with significant work experience. With advanced education, it is possible for some technologists to become department administrators or directors.

Some technologists specialize in clinical areas, such as nuclear cardiology or PET scanning. Some become instructors in, or directors of, nuclear medicine technology programs, a step that usually requires a bachelor's or master's degree in the subject. Others may leave the occupation to work as sales or training representatives for medical equipment or radiopharmaceutical manufacturing firms; some become radiation safety officers in regulatory agencies or hospitals.

Nuclear medicine technologists held about 21,800 jobs in 2008. About 66 percent of all nuclear medicine technologist jobs were in hospitals—private and public. A majority of the rest were in offices of physicians or in medical and diagnostic laboratories, including diagnostic imaging centers.

Job Outlook
Faster than average job growth is projected. However, keen competition is expected for most positions.

Job Growth
Employment of nuclear medicine technologists is expected to increase by 16 percent from 2008 to 2018, faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will arise from technological advancement, the development of new nuclear medicine treatments, and an increase in the number of middle-aged and elderly persons, who are the primary users of diagnostic and treatment procedures.

Technological innovations may increase the diagnostic uses of nuclear medicine. New nuclear medical imaging technologies, including PET and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), are expected to be used increasingly. Cost considerations will affect the speed with which these new applications of nuclear medicine grow. Healthcare facilities contemplating these procedures will have to consider equipment costs, reimbursement policies, and the number of potential users. Although these new imaging technologies will be used more often, they will likely replace older technologies, not supplement them. Thus, only a small amount of job growth will stem from the adoption of new technologies.

In spite of growth in nuclear medicine, the number of openings into the occupation each year will be relatively low. Job competition will be keen because the supply of properly trained nuclear medicine technologists is expected to exceed the number of job openings for technologists. Technologists who have training in multiple diagnostic methods, such as radiologic technology and diagnostic medical sonography, or in nuclear cardiology, should have the best prospects.

The median annual wage of nuclear medicine technologists was $66,660 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $57,270 and $78,240. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $48,450, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $87,770. The median annual wage of nuclear medicine technologists in general medical and surgical hospitals was $66,320.

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Academic Programs of Interest

Pre-Medicine is a term used to describe a track an undergraduate student pursues prior to becoming a medical student. It refers to the activities that prepare an undergraduate student for medical school, such as pre-med coursework, volunteer activities, clinical experience, research, and the application ...more