What Does an X-Ray Technician Do?

Interested in becoming an x-ray technician? Did you know that you can learn medical assisting and radiology? You can give yourself more options to find a job with both medical assisting and radiology educational training. So, what does an x-ray technician do?

What Does an X-Ray Technician Do?

Radiologic, or x-ray technicians, take images of the inside of the body using radiation. Essential for diagnosing bone fractures and other disorders, radiography is a mainstay of modern medicine. Once performed exclusively in hospitals, the equipment has become so advanced that less education is required to take radiographs. With the right training, medical assistants can now take basic x-rays. It’s an alternative pathway to an exciting career in radiology.

How Do X-Rays Work?

X-rays are an invisible form of light. Unlike the light ray you see, they penetrate soft tissue without being absorbed by it, creating images of the structures beneath the skin. The role of an x-ray technician is to take high-quality images that let doctors peer into the body without performing invasive procedures.

Training for X-Ray Technicians

Education is required to operate x-ray equipment safely. The training program you choose should reflect your professional goals.

In a hospital setting, most x-ray technicians are graduates of two- or four-year radiologic technician programs. Since taking x-rays is all they do, they are expected to perform a greater variety of tasks and need in-depth instruction in anatomy, math, physics and x-ray safety.

Today, more doctor’s offices are offering basic radiology services for their patients’ convenience, so it makes sense to create a new role for medical assistants with fewer training requirements. The medical assistant with emphasis in basic x-ray program covers the essentials necessary for taking a narrow but common selection of images. Under supervision, it’s something a medical assistant can do safely, and practices benefit by not having to hire a dedicated x-ray technician.

What Do Medical Assistants with X-Ray Training Do?

The medical assistant technician with emphasis in basic x-ray diploma program prepares you to function as both medical assistant and x-ray technician. You’ll learn the medical assisting skills necessary to handle a broad range of clinical and administrative duties in a private practice plus many of the same skills an x-ray technician learns, tasks that are beyond the scope of traditional medical assistants.

Clerical duties include:

  • Managing the schedule
  • Greeting patients
  • Updating medical records
  • Completing referrals
  • Transmitting prescriptions
  • Filling out insurance forms
  • Mail handling
  • Filing
  • Billing and coding
  • Stocking exam rooms
  • Ordering supplies

Clinical responsibilities include:

  • Triaging phone calls
  • Taking vital signs
  • Collecting biological samples
  • Maintaining equipment
  • Sterilizing instruments
  • Giving vaccinations
  • Removing stitches
  • Applying simple dressings
  • Performing EKGs
  • Phlebotomy
  • Providing patient education

A medical assistant that performs basic x-ray technician duties consist of:

  • Screening clients for pregnancy
  • Explaining x-ray procedures
  • Positioning patients
  • Protective draping
  • Ensuring radiation safety
  • Taking simple, high-quality images

Where Do Medical Assistants with X-Ray Training Work?

As demand for medical assistants with x-ray skills increases, so do the types of facilities that employ them. Opportunities have become available in*:


While most hospitals hire x-ray technicians, medical assistants with radiography training may work in outpatient departments taking less complicated images. Examples include taking screening radiographs in the emergency or ambulatory surgery departments.


Clinics care for less acutely ill patients and are ideal places for medical assistants with radiography training to work. In a large hospital, staff have focused roles. But in small settings, team members with flexible skills are preferred.

An x-ray technician is limited in the tasks they can perform other than radiography, but a medical assistant can handle most responsibilities in a clinic, radiography is a natural extension of what they already do.

Doctor’s Offices

Doctor’s offices already employ medical assistants, so it makes sense to hire candidates with x-ray training. Specialists, in particular, are benefiting. Group practices in orthopedics, for example, can see more patients faster by taking images in the office rather than sending clients to busy hospitals and waiting days for results. It is just good care.

Medical Assistant with X-Ray Training vs X-ray Technician

Most x-ray technician programs take two years to finish. Some vocational schools may offer shorter certificate or diploma programs, but graduates are limited in their roles and where they can work. A medical assistant technician with emphasis on basic x-ray program can be completed in twelve months. Students graduate with a wide range of skills that are valuable in any medical setting and spend less time in school. It’s a better overall value with benefits such as:

Job Projections

The healthcare industry is expanding, and both medical assistants and x-ray technicians are in demand. But the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects only a 7-percent rise in openings for radiologic technicians versus more than 19-percent for medical assistants.

Private practices and clinics rarely hire x-ray technicians, so their choice of work environment is limited.

A More Rewarding Role

X-ray technicians perform vital work, but it’s predictable. You’ll see dozens of clients per day and rarely make personal connections with any of them. If science and technology are what draw you to radiology, a career as an x-ray technician might be just what you’re looking for.

But if it’s helping people that attracts you to the healthcare field, you’ll have more patient contact as a medical assistant. You’ll work with the same clients year after year, supporting them through tough times and celebrating their progress. If you’re a people person, being a medical assistant with radiology skills is the best of both worlds and may be a more fulfilling role.

Room for Advancement

X-ray technicians rarely advance in the workplace without more education. But the next step on the career ladder, becoming a radiologic technologist, requires a bachelor’s degree.

Medical assistants with radiology training offer employers a broader skillset. With experience, they can qualify for supervisory positions that don’t require more training.*

Final Thoughts

Education is an investment, so it’s important to get your money’s worth. If you’re interested in a healthcare career, becoming a medical assistant or an x-ray technician are both excellent options. But why choose when you can do both with the medical assistant technician with emphasis in basic x-ray program?

Want to Learn More?

The Medical Assistant Technician with Emphasis in Basic X-Ray Diploma program prepares students with the knowledge and skills to perform medical assistant with basic x-ray responsibilities. The student will acquire the necessary skills, to perform under the supervision of a physician, to provide medical office administrative services and perform clinical duties including patient intake and care, routine diagnostic, and basic x-ray procedures. Students will be able to prepare the patient for various examinations, including x-rays, electrocardiograms, and phlebotomy.*

Ready to move from the classroom to a career? Florida Technical College is here to help. Contact us to learn more about completing the medical assistant technician with emphasis in basic x-ray diploma program at Technical College.

* These examples are intended to serve only as a general guide of possible employment opportunities. There are many factors that determine the job an individual may obtain, and Florida Technical College cannot guarantee its graduate any particular job. Some positions may require license or other certifications. We encourage you to research the requirements for the particular position you desire.