A radiology nurse specialty may appeal to nurses who enjoy working with medical equipment and testing. There are several advantages to becoming a radiology nurse. It’s a specialty that can be attained with just 2-4 years of nursing education.
A radiology nurse often makes more than other registered nurse (RN) specialties. Find out what a radiology nurse does, how to become a radiology nurse, and learn about the benefits of pursuing a certified radiology nurse (CRN) credential.
What Is a Radiology Nurse?
Radiology nurses provide care to patients undergoing diagnostic imaging procedures or radiation therapy. They work in small teams alongside radiologists, technicians, and other healthcare providers to provide a multidisciplinary approach.
A radiology nurse plans, evaluates, and administers care for patients undergoing these procedures. Radiology nurses also administer medications and contrasts as ordered by the prescribing healthcare provider.
Patient education is an important aspect of the role; nurses working in radiology educate patients on what to expect before, during. and after their procedure/treatment.
Steps to Becoming a Radiology Nurse
The initial steps to becoming a radiology nurse include getting a nursing degree and then taking the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN) for an RN license. Be aware that licensure requirements may vary from state to state, so it’s important to learn about requirements in your state before enrolling in a distance-learning program.
Nurses can qualify to become a radiology nurse with either an associate degree in nursing, which takes two years to complete, or a BSN which takes four years. Many facilities hire nurses with an ADN to work as radiology nurses, but getting a BSN could increase your chances of getting hired.
If you have an ADN, you can enroll in an RN-to-BSN degree program to minimize the completion time. If you have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing, you may consider an accelerated BSN degree program.
After graduating from an accredited school of nursing, students must pass the NCLEX-RN exam, which is a multiple-choice, written examination that evaluates the student’s knowledge and understanding of safe, effective RN practice.
Once you receive your RN license, the next step to becoming a radiology nurse is to get clinical experience as a licensed nurse. Entry-level nursing jobs are plentiful because of the high demand for nurses across the country. Nurses who find it a challenge to land entry level jobs may consider volunteering or taking part in internships to gain experience.
Registered nurses can become certified as radiology nurses; certification validates a nurse’s knowledge, experience, and commitment to working in the specialty field. A CRN credential isnot required for getting hired as a radiology nurse, but it can help increase your marketability in the job market and possibly land you a job that pays more.
According to Payscale in July 2022, a CRN can earn a yearly salary of around $101,000, which is substantially higher than the average pay for noncertified radiology nurses.
Featured Online RN-to-BSN Programs
Radiology Nurse Education
The minimum degree requirement and shortest educational pathway to becoming a radiology nurse is a two-year ADN.
An ADN requires 60-75 credits for completion. It is the quickest route to becoming a licensed RN and to pursuing the path of a radiology nurse. An ADN involves only two years of nursing education and is more affordable than paying for a four-year BSN degree, but a BSN may be required by some employers.
An ADN is best suited for a nurse who does notplan to pursue becoming an advanced practice RN. An ADN would be well suited for those planning to work with patients in the role of a staff nurse.
High school diploma or GED certificate; science courses like anatomy and physiology and math programs; minimum 2.0 GPA on high school transcripts
Fundamentals of nursing; college-level science courses (e.g., microbiology and anatomy and physiology); maternal health and pediatric nursing, medical-surgical nursing; clinical practicums in various medical facilities and/or in a simulation lab
Health assessments (e.g., vital signs and other basic assessment skills); documentation; medication administration; safety; basic wound care; identifying, implementing, and evaluating the outcome of patient care
A BSN requires 120 credits and usually takes four years to complete. A BSN is best suited for nurses who want to pursue administrative positions (e.g., nurse managers), a master’s or doctoral degree, or an advanced certification.
A BSN will qualify applicants for just about any employer’s opening for a radiology nurse position.
High school diploma with specific science courses like anatomy and physiology and math courses; transcripts from other college courses with a minimum GPA of 3.0 for college credits and a 2.5 or higher for high school courses; letters of recommendation; qualifying ACT and SAT scores
Nursing fundamentals; research; statistics; legalities; pharmacology; community health nursing; nursing specialty areas like pediatrics and maternal health; clinical practicums in a simulation lab or in the community
Nursing fundamentals; clinical nursing skills; leadership and management skills; medication administration; nursing informatics
Radiology Nurse Licensure and Certification
To work as a radiology nurse, RNs must have an active, unencumbered registered nurse license. Once you’ve passed the NCLEX-RN and have your license, there are ongoing requirements for RN renewal which can vary state to state. All nurses will be required to complete mandated minimum continuing education hours for nurses per licensing period. This may include online classes, live classes, webinars, conferences, or other educational courses.
Requirements of the Radiologic Nursing Certification Board to sit for the CRN exam include a current, unencumbered RN license and completion of at least 2,000 hours of radiology RN experience within the past three years. In addition, 30 radiology nursing contact hours must be completed within two years of the date an applicant takes the CRN exam.
Working as a Radiology Nurse
After completing an ADN or a BSN program, graduates may consider finding a nursing job that involves assisting in radiology. This could include a physician’s practice that frequently employs diagnostic imaging, like a sports medicine clinic.
Radiology nurses work in hospitals, ambulatory care centers, physicians’ practices, and other settings with a focus on diagnostic imaging (e.g., X-rays, MRIs, etc), and radiation therapy. Depending on the setting, radiology nurses perform various types of care. In a diagnostic setting, they provide care before, during, and after procedures, such as biopsies and CT scans.
Radiology nurses administer anesthesia, barium enemas, and special contrast dyes for X-rays. Specialty diagnostics, such as ultrasounds for OB/GYN patients, may require the support of radiology nurses who help patients experiencing medical problems during pregnancy.
Patient teaching is an important aspect of the job, regardless of the setting or type of diagnostics or procedure performed.
According to Salary.com in July 2022, radiology nurses make an average salary of $70,270. According to Payscale, the national average hourly rate for radiology nurses is $32.85 per hour as of July 2022. Radiology nurse salaries in the U.S. can range from $46,000 to $165,000 as per Payscale data.
Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Radiology Nurse
How many years does it take to become a radiology nurse?
It takes 2-4 years to become a registered nurse. Most employers require RNs to have some clinical experience before being considered for a radiology nurse position.
What is the quickest way to become a radiology nurse?
The quickest way to become a radiology nurse is to pursue an ADN, get at least a year of clinical experience in an entry-level nursing role, and then, apply for a radiology nurse position.
How hard is it to become a radiology nurse?
Becoming a radiology nurse can be more challenging than pursuing other fields of nursing, such as medical-surgical nursing. Nurses must gain a variety of nursing skills, meet training and certification requirements, and get experience to maximize their knowledge, expertise, and income potential.
Do radiology nurses get paid well?
According to Salary.com the average yearly salary for a radiology nurse is $70,270. Certification will usually lead to a higher salary. According to Payscale, radiology nurses can earn up to $165,000 per year.
Page last reviewed July 9, 2022