Career Detail

Radiation Therapist
“Cancer Fighter”
Treating cancer in the human body is the principal use of radiation therapy. Radiation therapists use machinesbto administer radiation treatment to patients.
The Job
The first step in the radiation therapy process is simulation. During simulation, the radiation therapist uses an x-ray imaging machine or computer tomography (CT) scan to pinpoint the location of the tumor. The radiation therapist then develops a treatment plan and explains the treatment plan to the patient and answers any questions that the patient may have. Treatment can take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes and is usually administered once a day, 5 days a week, for 2 to 9 weeks. During the treatment phase, the radiation therapist monitors the patient's physical condition to determine if any adverse side effects are taking place. The therapist must also be aware of the patient's emotional wellbeing. Generally work 40 hours a week.
Work Environment
Radiation therapists work in hospitals or in cancer treatment centers.
College Majors
Radiation Therapy, Certification also is accepted
Minimum Qualifications
A bachelor's degree, associate degree, or certificate in radiation therapy generally is required. Many States also require radiation therapists to be licensed.
Personality traits helpful for this career
Working with cancer patients can be stressful, but many radiation therapists also find it rewarding.
Quick Facts
  • Employment is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations.
  • A bachelor's degree, associate degree, or certificate in radiation therapy is generally required.
  • More Info: American Society of Radiologic Technologists website:
Compensation and Outlook
Median annual wages of radiation therapists were $72,910 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $59,050 and $87,910. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $47,910, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $104,350. Some employers also reimburse their employees for the cost of continuing education.
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