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Career and Education Opportunities for Radiation Therapists in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

There is a wide variety of career and education opportunities for radiation therapists in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. There are currently 900 working radiation therapists in Pennsylvania; this should grow 23% to 1,150 working radiation therapists in the state by 2016. This is not quite as good as the national trend for radiation therapists, which sees this job pool growing by about 27.1% over the next eight years. 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 $34 hourly or $72,280 yearly on average in Pennsylvania. Nationally, their income is about $35 per hour or $72,910 per year. Radiation therapists earn less than people working in the category of Radiology generally in Pennsylvania and less than people in the Radiology category nationally. Radiation therapists work in a variety of jobs, including: registered radiation therapist, radiation therapy technician, and radiologic therapist.

The Pittsburgh area is home to eighty-three schools of higher education, including seven within twenty-five miles of Pittsburgh where you can get a degree 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 Pittsburgh 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.
  • Nuclear Medical Technologist. Prepare, administer, and measure radioactive isotopes in therapeutic, diagnostic, and tracer studies utilizing a variety of radioisotope equipment. Prepare stock solutions of radioactive materials and calculate doses to be administered by radiologists. Subject patients to radiation. Execute blood volume, red cell survival, and fat absorption studies following standard laboratory techniques.
  • Orthodontist. Examine, diagnose, and treat dental malocclusions and oral cavity anomalies. Design and fabricate appliances to realign teeth and jaws to produce and maintain normal function and to improve appearance.
  • 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

Pennsylvania State University-Penn State New Kensington - Upper Burrell, PA

Pennsylvania State University-Penn State New Kensington, 3550 7th Street Road Rte 780, Upper Burrell, PA 15068-1765. Pennsylvania State University-Penn State New Kensington is a small university located in Upper Burrell, Pennsylvania. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 912 students and an admission rate of 86%. Pennsylvania State University-Penn State New Kensington has an associate's degree program in Medical Radiologic Technology/Science - Radiation Therapist which graduated sixteen students in 2008.

Community College of Beaver County - Monaca, PA

Community College of Beaver County, One Campus Drive, Monaca, PA 15061-2588. Community College of Beaver County is a small college located in Monaca, Pennsylvania. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 2,695 students. Community College of Beaver County has an associate's degree program in Medical Radiologic Technology/Science - Radiation Therapist.

Washington Hospital School of Radiography - Washington, PA

Washington Hospital School of Radiography, 155 Wilson Ave, Washington, PA 15301. Washington Hospital School of Radiography is a small school located in Washington, Pennsylvania. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 2-year programs. It has 25 students and an admission rate of 38%. Washington Hospital School of Radiography has a two to four year program in Medical Radiologic Technology/Science - Radiation Therapist which graduated fourteen students in 2008.

Community College of Allegheny County - Pittsburgh, PA

Community College of Allegheny County, 800 Allegheny Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15233-1895. Community College of Allegheny County is a large college located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 19,366 students. Community College of Allegheny County has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Medical Radiologic Technology/Science - Radiation Therapist which graduated ten and ten students respectively in 2008.

Sanford-Brown Institute - Pittsburgh, PA

Sanford-Brown Institute, 421 Seventh Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15219-1907. Sanford-Brown Institute is a small school located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 2-year programs and has 838 students. Sanford-Brown Institute has an associate's degree program in Medical Radiologic Technology/Science - Radiation Therapist which graduated twenty-three students in 2008.

La Roche College - Pittsburgh, PA

La Roche College, 9000 Babcock Blvd, Pittsburgh, PA 15237-5898. La Roche College is a small college located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 1,425 students and an admission rate of 57%. La Roche College has an associate's degree and a bachelor's degree program in Medical Radiologic Technology/Science - Radiation Therapist which graduated five and seven students respectively in 2008.

West Virginia Northern Community College - Wheeling, WV

West Virginia Northern Community College, 1704 Market St., Wheeling, WV 26003-3699. West Virginia Northern Community College is a small college located in Wheeling, West Virginia. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 2,924 students. West Virginia Northern Community College has an associate's degree program in Medical Radiologic Technology/Science - Radiation Therapist which graduated four students in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

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: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania photo by Conk 9

Pittsburgh is located in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. It has a population of over 310,037, which has shrunk by 7.3% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Pittsburgh, 86, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Pittsburgh cost $196,700 on average, which is far greater than the state average. In 2008, one hundred eighty-five new homes were built in Pittsburgh, up from one hundred seventeen the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in Pittsburgh are health care, educational services, and finance and insurance. For men, it is educational services, health care, and accommodation and food services. The average travel time to work is about 23 minutes. More than 26.2% of Pittsburgh residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 12.5%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Pittsburgh is 7.8%, which is less than Pennsylvania's average of 8.4%.

The percentage of Pittsburgh residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 71.8%, is more than both the national and state average. Saint Pauls Cathedral, Saint Patrick Roman Cathlic Church and Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church are some of the churches located in Pittsburgh. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the United Methodist Church.

Pittsburgh is home to the Mount Washington Overlook and the Golden Triangle as well as Magee Playground and Kennard Playground. Shopping centers in the area include Shadyside Shopping Center and Allegheny Center Mall. Visitors to Pittsburgh can choose from Best Western University Center, Avalon Motel and Four Points By Sheraton Pittsburgh Airport for temporary stays in the area.