What Education Is Required to Be a Radiation Therapist?

If you’re interested in becoming a radiation therapist, you’re probably wondering what kind of education is required. Here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll need to study to pursue this career.

Checkout this video:

Overview of the profession

Radiation therapists use radiation to treat cancer and other diseases in patients. Also called radiotherapy, this type of treatment can be administered using either external beam radiation therapy, which comes from a machine outside the body, or internal radiation therapy, in which radioactive material is placed inside the body.

Most radiation therapists work in hospitals, but some also work in private clinics or cancer centers. They typically work full time, although some may have evening or weekend hours.

Education requirements for radiation therapists vary by state, but most states require at least an associate’s degree from an accredited program. Those who want to further their careers may pursue a bachelor’s or master’s degree in radiation therapy or a related field.

The educational requirements

To become a radiation therapist, you will need at least an Associate’s degree in radiation therapy. Some therapists may choose to pursue a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, which can lead to higher paying jobs and more responsibilities. Therapists must be licensed in most states, and the requirements for licensure vary by state.

Associate’s degree

An associate’s degree in radiation therapy is the minimum educational requirement to become a radiation therapist. Although some programs may offer entry-level positions to those with high school diplomas, an Associate of Science (AS) or an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Radiation Therapy is typically needed for most jobs. These programs usually take two years to complete and include coursework in biology, mathematics, physics, and ethics, as well as specific classes in radiation therapy.

Bachelor’s degree

A bachelor’s degree in radiation therapy typically takes four years to complete and is offered at many community colleges and universities. During the first two years of study, students take courses in biology, anatomy, mathematics, introduction to radiation therapy, and physics. The last two years of the program are spent completing clinical rotations in various healthcare settings. After completing a bachelor’s degree program, graduates must pass a national exam to become certified radiation therapists.

Master’s degree

A master’s degree in radiation therapy is the most common level of education required for this profession. In some cases, a bachelor’s degree may be sufficient, but most employers prefer to hire applicants with a master’s degree. Radiation therapists must complete an accredited radiation therapy program and pass a national certification exam.

Doctoral degree

The most common way to become a radiation therapist is to earn a bachelor’s degree in radiation therapy from an accredited institution. Some programs offer an associate degree, but most employers prefer applicants who have completed a bachelor’s degree program. Completing a degree generally takes four years, and successful completion of the program leads to eligibility to take the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification examination. Some institutions offer distance learning or online courses for part of the curriculum.

The accreditation process

Radiation therapists must be licensed in most states. Specific requirements vary from state to state, but all states recognize certification by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Most employers prefer to hire therapists who are certified or registered.

Therapists who have graduated from an accredited radiation therapy program and who have passed a rigorous certification examination administered by the ARRT are eligible for the credential Radiation Therapist Registered (RTR). To maintain their registration, RTRs must complete continuing education requirements and pay an annual fee. They may also choose to pursue additional credentials offered by the ARRT.

Graduates of non-accredited programs may become eligible for certification by completing an accredited radiation therapy program and passing the ARRT examination. Eligibility requirements for certification can be found on the ARRT website.

The certification process

Radiation therapists must be licensed in most states. To be eligible for licensure, therapists must graduate from an accredited radiation therapy program and pass a national certification examination. Although not required, many states also require licensure candidates to pass a state-administered examination.

Most radiation therapy programs take 2 to 4 years to complete and lead to an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. These programs include classroom instruction in biology, anatomy, physics, and math; laboratory work; and clinical experience. Courses in psychology and counseling may also be helpful because workers must deal with the stress of patients who are ill and often frightened.

After completing an accredited radiation therapy program and passing a national certification examination, candidates can apply for state licensure, if required. Some states have reciprocity agreements, which allow licensed therapists to practice in other states without going through the licensure process again.

Scroll to Top