What Is the Difference Between a Radiologist, X-ray Technician, and X-ray Technologist?

X-ray technicians, radiologists, and x-ray technologists all work in the same field–radiology. However, they all have different roles to play in providing services to patients. X-ray technicians are trained in using x-ray equipment to take pictures of the inside of a person’s body. These pictures are used in diagnosing diseases and injuries. Typically, x-ray technicians receive one to two years of training at a trade school, where they learn how to operate different types of x-ray equipment as well as how to position patients for efficient imaging.

X-ray technicians may find employment in hospitals and doctors’ offices as well as in radiology clinics. They may also find jobs in nursing homes and dentistry facilities. In some cases, x-ray technicians venture into using other imaging technology besides x-rays, performing MRIs, CAT scans, and even ultrasounds.

An x-ray technician cannot talk to patients about the results of x-rays or issue diagnoses. Instead, a radiologist or doctor typically has this responsibility. A radiologist is a person who is trained in interpreting diagnostic images, such as those obtained from x-rays as well as MRIs, CAT scans, and ultrasounds. Sometimes, a radiologist will also handle radioactive materials in the course of her medical-imaging work. A radiologist can also find work in a hospital, clinic, doctor’s office, radiology center, dentist’s office, or nursing home.

The difference between an x-ray technician and a radiologist is that an x-ray technician can only perform the x-rays while the radiologist gets the images from the technician and analyzes them, making a diagnosis. Sometimes radiologists also operate imaging equipment, such as when they work in a small facility that does not also employ a technician. Additionally, radiologists may perform some minor medical procedures that incorporate the use of imaging machines.

An x-ray technologist performs the same role as an x-ray technician, using x-rays and other diagnostic-imagining tests to take images of a person’s insides. Once these images have been taken and developed, an x-ray technologist passes them on to a radiologist who will diagnose the patient. The major difference between x-ray technicians and technologists is the extent of their education. Technicians usually receive one to two years of training while technologists secure bachelor’s degrees. Often, x-ray technologists are able to fill supervisory jobs and even interpret data in addition to operating imaging machinery.