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Radiology Nurse Careers and Salary Outlook 2020

June 3, 2020 | Staff Writers

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Degree-seekers who want to learn how to become a radiology nurse can use this page to explore the career path. This page details what a radiology nurse does, how to earn a radiology nurse degree, and how to succeed on the job. Prospective radiology nurses can also browse radiology nurse requirements, salary data, training and certification information, and helpful resources.

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What is a Radiology Nurse?

What does a radiology nurse do? Radiology nurses provide nursing care to patients who require diagnostic imaging procedures or radiation therapy. They work as part of an interdisciplinary team alongside physicians, radiology technicians, and specialists. Radiology nurses plan, evaluate, and provide quality care for patients during their procedures. These nurses also educate patients about their procedures, explaining how they can prepare and what they can expect after the procedure.


  • What Do Radiology Nurses Do?

    Radiology nurses assist patients through the use of x-rays, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging, and other imaging techniques. They help patients who suffer from illnesses or injuries that may require an internal view to properly diagnose or treat symptoms. Some radiology nurses using ultrasound equipment also work with pregnant women and patients who require assistance viewing gastrointestinal issues or other internal problems. This low-stress job appeals to nurses who enjoy technologically advanced positions and working with equipment in addition to patients.

    Radiology nurses perform a variety of duties across healthcare settings. They prepare patients for their procedures and monitor their oxygen saturation and vital signs during procedures. They also administer barium enemas and solutions before patients undergo procedures, helping with special contrast mediums and dyes as needed.

    Additionally, radiology nurses operate radiology machines while reading diagnostic images and administering physician-ordered sedation and analgesia. Nurses evaluate patients once their procedures are complete and care for them until they are discharged. Radiology nurses also help meet patients’ needs and manage their pain levels.

  • Where Do Radiology Nurses Work?

    Radiology nurses work in a variety of settings, focusing on diagnostic imaging and radiation therapy. Many radiology nurses work in hospitals and medical centers, collaborating with other healthcare professionals to provide quality patient care. Radiology nurses often work in diagnostic imaging centers.

    Many radiology nurses focus their careers in outpatient facilities, including endovascular clinics and wound-care clinics. Depending on the setting, radiology nurses focus on different daily job responsibilities, working with patients from a variety of backgrounds.

  • Skills That Could Affect Radiology Nurse Salaries

    Radiology nurses need strong computer literacy skills since they must navigate computer systems and radiology equipment. They also must be able to think critically and assess different situations to determine patients’ unique needs. They need solid organizational skills and the ability to function as effective team leaders.

    Communication skills are vital to the nursing profession. Nurses regularly communicate with patients, explaining things to them in ways they can understand. They work with patients to provide the highest quality of care. Radiology nurses must communicate and work alongside other members of their interdisciplinary team to effectively and efficiently care for patients.


How to Become a Radiology Nurse

When exploring how to become a radiology nurse, prospective nurses must first earn a degree. All nurses in the field need an active registered nurse license to practice professionally. The licensing process requires candidates to complete either an associate degree in nursing or a bachelor of science in nursing. Learners should consider the pros and cons of each degree type.

Upon completing their degree, individuals can complete the registered nurse licensing process. In addition to education components, aspiring nurses must complete and pass the NCLEX-RN exam. After earning their RN license, individuals can complete the necessary work experience to pursue certification as a radiology nurse.

Education

To become a radiology nurse, learners must first earn their registered nurse license, which requires either an associate degree in nursing or a bachelor of science in nursing. Students should enroll in a regionally accredited institution. While an associate degree or bachelor’s degree can allow students to pursue registered nurse licensure, many employers prefer candidates with a bachelor of science in nursing.

Many colleges and universities offer online degree options for nursing students at both the associate and bachelor’s levels. Learners can typically earn an associate degree in two years while a bachelor’s degree takes around four years. Some online opportunities offer accelerated formats that allow degree-seekers to graduate sooner.

Training and Certification

Before pursuing certification to work as a radiology nurse, individuals need an associate degree in nursing or a bachelor of science in nursing. Upon degree completion, they can pursue registered nurse licensure. After achieving state licensure, professionals must gain clinical experience as a registered nurse before they can seek employment in a radiology nursing position and work toward accomplishing the Certified Radiology Nurse credential.

The Association for Radiologic and Imaging Nurses offers the CNR credential to nurses who hold their current, unencumbered professional registered nurse license. Qualified candidates must complete a minimum of 30 contact hours of continuing education requirements in the nursing care of radiology patients. Nurses must complete contact hours within two years of the date they sat for the NCLEX-RN exam. Additionally, CNR candidates must complete at least 2,000 hours of radiology nursing experience within three years.

Radiology Nurse Salaries and Job Growth

How much does a radiology nurse make? Radiology nurse salary information varies by location. Radiology nurses earn a national median salary of $65,002. Among related professions, radiology nurses earn one of the higher salary opportunities, with other occupations ranging from $27,818 to $72,541.

Before beginning a career as a radiology nurse, individuals often work as registered nurses since they must earn their RN license. The general medical and surgical hospital industry boasts the highest employment level and the most jobs for registered nurses. The top-paying industry for registered nurses is the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry.

California and Texas boast the highest employment levels for registered nurses, South Dakota and West Virginia feature the highest concentration of jobs for the occupation, and California and Hawaii pay registered nurses the highest salaries.

Related Job Salaries
Registered Nurse (RN) Certified Nurse Assistant Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) Registered Nurse (RN), Emergency Room Registered Nurse (RN), Critical Care
$63,393 $27,891 $43,528 $66,391 $72,656

Source: PayScale

Radiology Nurse Resources

  • Association for Radiologic & Imaging Nursing Founded as a professional organization to represent nurses who base their careers in the interventional, ultrasonography, nuclear medicine, neuro/cardiovascular, and radiation oncology field, this association functions as the premier source for imaging nurses around the world. The organization connects imaging nurses across countries and promotes the discipline across settings.
  • Radiological Society of North America An international society of medical physicists, radiologists, and other medical professionals, this group serves more than 54,000 members around the world and hosts one of the world’s biggest annual medical meetings. The organization publishes two peer-reviewed journals and boasts a dedication to improving continuing education efforts in radiology.
  • Association for Nursing Professional Development Committed to advancing the practice of nursing professional development and enhancing healthcare outcomes, this association focuses on a value proposition, leadership, role clarity in the field, and managing transitions. ANPD promotes nursing professional development to expand the quality of healthcare across the country.
  • Nurse.com Job Search Nurses can search for job opportunities by using the job search feature on Nurse.com. Users can input a specific job title or search for jobs based on specialty. Job seekers can input their desired location and add distance parameters to fine-tune results.
  • American Nurses Association A professional organization committed to protecting, advancing, and promoting the nursing profession, ANA was founded as the Nurses Associated Alumnae in 1896 and adopted its current name in 1911. ANA represents all registered nurses in the U.S. across specialties, establishing standards for nursing practice and promoting rights for nurses across all workplace settings.
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