In countries such as the UK, Canada and Australia, Radiation Therapists are more commonly referred to as Radiation Oncologists and Radiotherapist. Radiation therapy utilizes high energy gamma rays, protons, electrons or x-rays to help cancer patients, by killing cancer cells or controlling the spread of cancer cells in the body.  Radiation therapists are so vital to an oncology department both in hospitals and in other healthcare facilities. They work along side of other health care professionals such as radiation oncologists, nurses, nutritionists, etc. What is the radiation therapist job description?

Radiation Therapist Job Description

Radiation therapist is a health care professional specialized in delivering therapeutic doses of radiation in the treatment of cancerous growth. They are involved in both planning and implementation of radiotherapy treatment for patients fighting various forms of cancer. To properly treat tumors, the correct dosage of radiation must be used to kill the cancer cells. It is the responsibility of a radiation therapist to use a variety of equipment to administer the exact amount of radiation required to optimize best treatment outcome. Technology is constantly evolving and with constant medical breakthroughs, the job of a radiation therapist is rapidly evolving as well.

Radiation Therapists are responsible for the following duties:

  • Discuss various treatment plans with the patient; developed in partnership with a clinical oncologists and physicians.
  • Establish the correct radiation dosage and location or area to treat.
  • Help patients to understand the potential side effects of radiation treatment and how to manage any associated side effects.
  • Safely provide the correct radiotherapy treatment to patients.
  • Operate the medical equipment used for radiotherapy.
  • Ensure that the medical equipment is regularly maintained and in excellent working order.
  • Maintain accurate records of a patient’s treatment regimen.
  • Manage and supervise Radiotherapy Assistants to ensure their work is performed accurately.

Radiation Therapist Education

Interested applicants who have the desire to become a radiation therapist must complete a minimum of a 12-month certification program.  Many community colleges offer an Associate degree program, which can be completed in as little as two years.  There are also bachelors and masters degree programs focusing on radiation therapy.  Employment opportunities will increase if individuals possess a degree in radiology rather than just a 12-month certification. Please keep in mind that certification programs often require the applicant to possess a degree in another field prior to starting the program.

For those who wish to pursue further education in this profession, they can advance in teaching, research positions, and technical sales. Some may choose to obtain certification for a dosimetrists through additional training and certification. Dosimetrists specialize in radiation dose calculations, calibration and maintenance of medical equipment used in radiation therapy.

Radiation Therapy Training

If you decide to pursue a degree in radiation therapy, you can expect to take human anatomy and physiology, physics, algebra, computer science, radiation therapy procedures, scientific theories and research methodology. Depending on the type of degree you decide to pursue, this will determine the length of your program.  For example an Associate degree will take about 2 years to complete, while a Bachelor’s degree can be completed in 4 years, if you are going to school full-time. 

Radiation Therapist Certification

All radiation therapists must be licensed before they can practice in the state they reside. The American Registry of Radiologic Technologist (ARRT) offers licensure to anyone that can meet their guidelines and requirements.

License requirements include the following:

  • Completion of an accredited certification program
  • Successfully passing the certification test
  • Proper adherence to ethical standards

Radiation Therapist Salary

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Radiation Therapist Job Description Summary

Here is a short recap of the radiation therapist job description:
  • plan and implement radiotherapy treatment
  • work with physicians and other health professionals
  • complete a minimum of a 12-month certification program
  • Must be license to work
  • 20% employment growth by 2020