Radiation Therapists

Last updated December 31, 2014

Are you equally comfortable around people and machines? Do you hope for a career helping others in difficult circumstances?

Radiation therapists use a machine to treat cancer patients, but working with the machine is only part of the job. As a radiation therapist, your role in the struggle against disease involves other duties as well. For example, you'll work with doctors and others to come up with a plan for shrinking or getting rid of tumors. Communicating with and supporting your patients is another key part of the job description.

Radiation therapists operate linear accelerators -- machines that project x-rays -- to treat cancer.

Did You Know?

Most radiation therapists work in hospitals.

Are You Ready To...?

  • Work with patients on your own
  • Provide emotional support to patients and remain upbeat
  • Consult with doctors to develop treatment plans
  • Keep careful records of your treatments
  • Adjust the linear accelerator as needed
  • Follow safety procedures carefully to avoid overexposure to radiation
  • Spend long hours on your feet
  • Keep fit so that you can help disabled patients

It Helps To Be...

Caring, articulate, organized, and confident. You'll be working one-on-one with patients who may be anxious and fearful, and you'll need to guide them through a difficult procedure.

Make High School Count

  • Volunteer at a hospital or other health care setting to find out if working with seriously ill patients is for you.
  • Do your best in science and math classes; you'll study subjects like anatomy, physics, and precalculus in college.
  • Take advantage of assigned lab reports to practice keeping accurate records.
  • Practice your communication skills in debate, drama, and speech and English classes.
  • Play sports to stay in shape.
  • Visit the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) website to find accredited radiation therapy programs.

Did You Know?

You'll probably need to be licensed by the state you work in. You may also need to be certified by the ARRT, which could mean attending an ARRT-accredited degree program and passing a test.