What is a Nuclear Medicine Technologist

Nuclear medicine technologists prepare and administer radioactive drugs for patients, then use scanners to create images of the area of the body in need of scanning. The radioactive drugs will cause any abnormalities to appear in the images created by the scanner. They also analyze patient specimens in the laboratory, and communicate any findings to the physician for interpretation. For more on job duties, please visit our nuclear medicine technologist job description page.

Work Environment

The majority of nuclear medicine technologists work in a hospital setting, with others working in imaging clinics or physicians’ offices. The technologist will work closely with the patient being scanned, keeping them at ease and well-informed of the procedure being undertaken. Good communication skills are a necessity. They also need to monitor the patient’s condition, and be prepared for any additional imaging that may be required should a patient indicate a need.

Due to the nature of the work, there is some minor risk of exposure to radiological material. However, proper training and care should mitigate this risk, and prevent any undue accidents.

Work Schedule

Nuclear medicine technologists tend to work a standard forty-hour work week. Some departments do work on an extended schedule, so while most may work Monday-Friday during business hours, some may need pull occasional evenings and weekends; there can be part-time work available as well.

Mean Annual Nuclear Medicine Technologist Salary

The average annual nuclear medicine technologist salary is $70,840. The mean salary is calculated by adding all the wages within the occupation and divid that value by the total number of employees. Lowest 10% of this occupation makes less than $50,560 and the top 10% makes over $93,320.

Nuclear Medicine Technologist Salary: Quick Summary

2012 Mean Salary$70,840 per year
$34.06 per hour
Top 10% Salary$93,320 per year
$44.87 per hour
Bottom 10% Salary$50,560 per year
$24.32 per hour
Number of Jobs, 201220,480

Nuclear Medicine Technologist Job Outlook and Prospects

The job prospects for nuclear medicine technologists is moderately promising for the foreseeable future, with an expected 20% growth rate from 2012 to 2022. However, the overall occupation is small, and this 20% growth rate translates to about 4,200 jobs. With only 20,480 nuclear medicine technologists employed in 2012, this is an excellent growth rate for the position, but it does not translate into a large medical field. Still, it is exceptionally promising for those that find the career of interest to them.

Nuclear Medicine Technologist Salary: Factors of Influence

The national mean nuclear medicine technologist salary is $70,180 per year, a comfortable wage and close to the upper level of need for a happy life. This salary is affected by several factors, including the geographic location, the experience of the technologist, and, related to experience, the position they occupy in their place of work.

Industry is a further area for consideration in salary improvement, however the potential differences are not as dramatic as other fields.

Education and Specialization 

Education for a nuclear medicine technologist generally involves a certificate or degree in nuclear medicine technology, followed by licensing, depending on the state. As such, there is little room for salary improvement, unless one is pursuing an academic position.

There is some degree of specialization for nuclear medicine technologists. For example, one can focus on nuclear cardiology or positron emission tomography. However, the specializations are few, and the opportunities for salary advancements are better pursued through other methods.

Experience and Position 

Both experience and position are potential areas for nuclear medicine technologist salary increases. As with most positions, experience brings with it commensurate wage improvements, with new technologists earning a starting salary, and those working for more than 10 years nearing the national average.

Promotion to a supervisor or a chief technologist position in the organization worked is also a means of seeing pecuniary gains. In these cases, the technologist will oversee and direct other nuclear medicine technologists in their daily activities, and ensure the proper running of the department.


As mentioned, industry is a minor area for nuclear medicine technologist salary improvement. While the career itself has large variability in average wages, industries tend to offer between the $67,270 (for those working in medical and diagnostic laboratories) to $79,260 (for those working at colleges, universities, and professional schools) range. This $12,000 difference is comparatively small compared to other occupations, and mostly hover around the $70,840 mean wage.


Along with experience and position, the geographic location is the primary means of financial gains for nuclear medicine technologists. While the lowest paying states range from $35,430 and up, the highest paying are all above $80,000. District of Columbia holds third place at $83,400, while Rhode Island comes in second at $89,790. California, however, is the best-paying state for this career, offering an average salary of $91,920. The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area has the highest mean for metropolitan areas, at $114,930, and indeed, the top 7 out of 10 metropolitan areas are in California, with wages about the $90,000 mark.

Nuclear Medicine Technologist Salary: Top 5

Top Paying Metropolitan AreasTop Paying StatesTop Paying IndustriesStates with Highest Employment Level
San Jose, CA: $114,930California: $91,920Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools: $79,260Florida: (2,090 jobs) $68,520
Oakland, CA: $111,770Rhode Island: $89,790Specialty Hospitals: $74,340California: (1,550 jobs) $91,920
Oxnard, CA: $104,430District of Columbia: $83,400Outpatient care Centers: $72,800Texas: (1,300 jobs) $67,040
Sacramento, CA: $103,680New Jersey: $81,830Offices of Physicians: $72,070New York: (1,110 jobs) $76,480
Santa Ana- Anaheim, CA: $95,280Washington: $81,790General Medical and Surgical Hospitals: $70,650Pennsylvania: (1,080 jobs) $63,660

nuclear medicine technologist salary state by state