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Career and Education Opportunities for Radiation Therapists in Grand Rapids, Michigan

There are many career and education opportunities for radiation therapists in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. There are currently 610 working radiation therapists in Michigan; this should grow by 18% to about 720 working radiation therapists in the state by 2016. This is not quite as good as the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for radiation therapists are expected to grow by about 27.1%. In general, radiation therapists provide radiation therapy to patients as prescribed by a radiologist according to established practices and standards.

Income for radiation therapists is about $32 per hour or $67,230 per year on average in Michigan. Nationally, their income is about $35 hourly or $72,910 per year. Incomes for radiation therapists are not quite as good as in the overall category of Radiology in Michigan, and not quite as good as the overall Radiology category nationally. Radiation therapists work in a variety of jobs, including: radiologic therapist, computed tomography simulation therapist , and registered radiation therapist.

There are nineteen schools of higher education in the Grand Rapids area, including three within twenty-five miles of Grand Rapids where you can get a degree to start your career as a radiation therapist. Radiation therapists usually hold an Associate's, or other 2-year degree, so you can expect to spend about two years training to become a radiation therapist if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Radiation Therapist

Radiation Therapist video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, radiation therapists provide radiation therapy to patients as prescribed by a radiologist according to established practices and standards. They also duties may include reviewing prescription and diagnosis; acting as liaison with physician and supportive care personnel; preparing equipment, such as immobilization, treatment, and protection devices; and maintaining records, reports, and files.

Radiation therapists maintain records, reports and files as required, including such data as radiation dosages, apparatus settings and patients' reactions. They also position patients for treatment with accuracy in line with prescription. Equally important, radiation therapists have to inspect prescription and identification. They are often called upon to follow principles of radiation protection for patients and others. They are expected to observe and reassure patients during treatment and report unusual reactions to physician or turn apparatus off if unexpected adverse reactions occur. Finally, radiation therapists administer prescribed doses of radiation to specific body parts, using radiation therapy apparatus in line with established practices and standards.

Every day, radiation therapists are expected to be able to listen to and understand others in meetings. They need to evaluate problems as they arise.

It is important for radiation therapists to conduct most treatment sessions independently, in accordance with the long-term treatment plan and under the general direction of the patient's physician. They are often called upon to check for side effects such as skin irritation, nausea and hair loss to gauge patients' reaction to treatment. They also implement appropriate follow-up care plans. They are sometimes expected to check radiation therapy apparatus to insure proper operation. Somewhat less frequently, radiation therapists are also expected to calculate actual treatment dosages delivered during each session.

Radiation therapists sometimes are asked to help in the preparation of sealed radioactive materials. They also have to be able to educate, ready and reassure patients and their families by answering questions, providing physical assistance, and reinforcing physicians' advice regarding treatment reactions and post-treatment care and store or ready the special applicators containing the radioactive substance implanted by the physician. And finally, they sometimes have to ready and construct apparatus, such as immobilization and protection devices.

Like many other jobs, radiation therapists must have exceptional integrity and be thorough and dependable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Grand Rapids include:

  • Dental Hygienist. Clean teeth and examine oral areas, head, and neck for signs of oral disease. May educate patients on oral hygiene, take and develop X-rays, or apply fluoride or sealants.
  • Emergency Medical Technician. Assess injuries, administer emergency medical care, and extricate trapped individuals. Transport injured or sick persons to medical facilities.
  • Radiological Technician. Maintain and use equipment and supplies necessary to demonstrate portions of the human body on x-ray film or fluoroscopic screen for diagnostic purposes.
  • Radiology Technologist. Take x-rays and Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT or CT) scans or administer nonradioactive materials into patient's blood stream for diagnostic purposes. Includes technologists who specialize in other modalities, such as computed tomography, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance.
  • Surgical Technician. Assist in operations, under the supervision of surgeons, registered nurses, or other surgical personnel. May help set up operating room, prepare and transport patients for surgery, adjust lights and equipment, pass instruments and other supplies to surgeons and surgeon's assistants, hold retractors, and help count sponges, needles, and instruments.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Radiation Therapist Training

Baker College of Muskegon - Muskegon, MI

Baker College of Muskegon, 1903 Marquette Ave, Muskegon, MI 49442. Baker College of Muskegon is a medium sized college located in Muskegon, Michigan. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 5,214 students. Baker College of Muskegon has an associate's degree program in Medical Radiologic Technology/Science - Radiation Therapist which graduated eighteen students in 2008.

Grand Valley State University - Allendale, MI

Grand Valley State University, 1 Campus Dr, Allendale, MI 49401-9403. Grand Valley State University is a large university located in Allendale, Michigan. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 23,932 students and an admission rate of 78%. Grand Valley State University has a bachelor's degree program in Medical Radiologic Technology/Science - Radiation Therapist which graduated twenty-seven students in 2008.

Grand Rapids Community College - Grand Rapids, MI

Grand Rapids Community College, 143 Bostwick Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503-3295. Grand Rapids Community College is a large college located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 15,403 students. Grand Rapids Community College has an associate's degree program in Medical Radiologic Technology/Science - Radiation Therapist which graduated twenty-five students in 2008.


Nuclear Cardiology Technologist: Professional certification is a vital component of a successful career.

For more information, see the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board website.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Grand Rapids, Michigan
Grand Rapids, Michigan photo by Grguy2011

Grand Rapids is located in Kent County, Michigan. It has a population of over 193,396, which has shrunk by 2.2% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Grand Rapids, 81, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Grand Rapids cost $98,700 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, forty-three new homes were built in Grand Rapids, down from ninety-two the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in Grand Rapids are health care, educational services, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is construction, transportation equipment, and educational services. The average travel time to work is about 19 minutes. More than 23.8% of Grand Rapids residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 8.0%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Grand Rapids is 15.4%, which is greater than Michigan's average of 14.3%.

The percentage of Grand Rapids residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 52.9%, is more than both the national and state average. Church of Jesus Christ, Immanuel Church and Trinity Church are among the churches located in Grand Rapids. The most prominent religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Christian Reformed Church in North America and the Reformed Church in America.

Grand Rapids is home to the Kent Country Club and the Walker Juvenile Court as well as Comstock Riverside Park and Richmond Park. Visitors to Grand Rapids can choose from Hampton Inn Grand Rapids, Hampton Inn Grand Rapids/North- Mi and Hampton Inn Fax for temporary stays in the area.