Radiation Therapist Similar Professions

Today we speak about Radiation Therapist Similar Professions.

Radiation Therapist Similar Professions
radiation therapist similar professions

Professions in Radiation Therapy

Radiation Oncologist
Radiation oncologists are physicians who oversee the care of each cancer patient undergoing radiation treatment. After determining whether a patient is a candidate for radiation therapy they review the side effects and benefits of treatment with the patient. Next they develop and prescribe each cancer patient's treatment plan, making sure that every treatment is accurately given. They monitor the patient's progress and adjust treatment to make sure patients receive quality care. Radiation oncologists also help identify and treat any side effects of radiation therapy. They work closely with other physicians and all members of the radiation oncology team. Radiation oncologists have completed four years of college, four years of medical school, one year of general medical training, then four years of residency (specialty) training in radiation oncology. They have extensive training in the safe use of radiation to treat disease. If they pass a special examination, they are certified by the American Board of Radiology. Patients should ask if their doctor is board certified.

Therapeutic Medical Physicist
A therapeutic medical physicist is a qualified medical physicist who works directly with the doctor in treatment planning and delivery. Therapeutic medical physicists oversee the work of dosimetrists and help ensure that complex treatments are properly tailored for each patient. They are responsible for developing and directing quality control programs for equipment and procedures that ensure the equipment works properly. They also take precise measurements of radiation beam characteristics and do other safety tests on a regular basis. Therapeutic medical physicists have doctorates or master's degrees and have completed four years of college, two to four years of graduate school and typically one to two years of clinical physics training. They are certified by the American Board of Radiology or the American Board of Medical Physics.

Radiation Therapist
Radiation therapists work with radiation oncologists. They administer the daily radiation treatment under the doctor's prescription and supervision. They maintain daily records and regularly check the treatment machines to make sure they are working properly. Radiation therapists go through a two- to four-year educational program following high school or college. They take a special examination and must be certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. In addition, many states require that radiation therapists be licensed.

Dosimetrists carefully calculate the dose of radiation to make sure the tumor gets enough radiation and develop a number of treatment plans that can best destroy the tumor while sparing the normal tissues. Many of these treatment plans are very complex. Dosimetrists work with the doctor and the medical physicist to choose the treatment plan that is best suited to each patient. Many dosimetrists start as radiation therapists, then, with very intensive training, become dosimetrists. Others are graduates of one- to two-year dosimetry programs. The Medical Dosimetrist Certification Board certifies dosimetrists.

Radiation Oncology Nurse
Nurses work with the radiation team to care for patients during the course of treatment. They help evaluate the patient before treatment begins. They may talk to the patient about potential side effects and their management. During the course of radiation treatments, the nurse may evaluate the patient weekly or more frequently to assess problems and concerns. Nurses play a key role in educating the patient about treatment, side effects, etc. Radiation oncology nurses are registered nurses licensed to practice professional nursing. Most nurses in radiation therapy have additional accreditation in the specialty of oncology nursing. Advanced practice nurses in oncology, which include clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners, have completed a master's degree program.

Social Worker
Social workers may be available to provide practical help and counseling to patients or members of their families. They can help a patient and family members cope. They also may help arrange for home health care and other services. Social workers may be licensed. Licensed social workers must have a master's degree and pass an examination.

Dietitians work with patients to help maintain nutrition. They monitor the patient's weight and any nutritional problems. Dietitians educate patients and may provide them with recipes and nutritional supplements to improve their nutritional status before, during and after treatment. Dietitians attend four years of college then usually take part in a one-year internship. The American Dietetic Association registers dietitians who have passed a professional examination.


What Radiation Therapists Do
Radiation therapists treat cancer and other diseases in patients by administering radiation treatments.

Work Environment
Radiation therapists work in hospitals, offices of physicians, and outpatient centers. Most radiation therapists work full time.

How to Become a Radiation Therapist
Most radiation therapists complete programs that lead to an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in radiation therapy. Radiation therapists must be licensed or certified in most states. Requirements vary by state, but often include passing a national certification exam.

The median annual wage for radiation therapists was $80,160 in May 2016.

Job Outlook
Employment of radiation therapists is projected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for radiation therapists may stem from the aging population and advances in radiation therapies.

State & Area Data
Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for radiation therapists.

Similar Occupations
Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of radiation therapists with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET
Learn more about radiation therapists by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What is radiation therapy?

Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells (1). X-rays, gamma rays, and charged particles are types of radiation used for cancer treatment.

The radiation may be delivered by a machine outside the body (external-beam radiation therapy), or it may come from radioactive material placed in the body near cancer cells (internal radiation therapy, also called brachytherapy).

Systemic radiation therapy uses radioactive substances, such as radioactive iodine, that travel in the blood to kill cancer cells.

About half of all cancer patients receive some type of radiation therapy sometime during the course of their treatment.

How does radiation therapy kill cancer cells?

Radiation therapy kills cancer cells by damaging their DNA (the molecules inside cells that carry genetic information and pass it from one generation to the next) (1). Radiation therapy can either damage DNA directly or create charged particles (free radicals) within the cells that can in turn damage the DNA.

Cancer cells whose DNA is damaged beyond repair stop dividing or die. When the damaged cells die, they are broken down and eliminated by the body’s natural processes.

Does radiation therapy kill only cancer cells?

No, radiation therapy can also damage normal cells, leading to side effects.

Doctors take potential damage to normal cells into account when planning a course of radiation therapy. The amount of radiation that normal tissue can safely receive is known for all parts of the body. Doctors use this information to help them decide where to aim radiation during treatment.

Why do patients receive radiation therapy?

Radiation therapy is sometimes given with curative intent (that is, with the hope that the treatment will cure a cancer, either by eliminating a tumor, preventing cancer recurrence, or both) (1). In such cases, radiation therapy may be used alone or in combination with surgery, chemotherapy, or both.

Radiation therapy may also be given with palliative intent. Palliative treatments are not intended to cure. Instead, they relieve symptoms and reduce the suffering caused by cancer.

Some examples of palliative radiation therapy are:

Radiation given to the brain to shrink tumors formed from cancer cells that have spread to the brain from another part of the body (metastases).
Radiation given to shrink a tumor that is pressing on the spine or growing within a bone, which can cause pain.
Radiation given to shrink a tumor near the esophagus, which can interfere with a patient’s ability to eat and drink.
How is radiation therapy planned for an individual patient?

A radiation oncologist develops a patient’s treatment plan through a process called treatment planning, which begins with simulation.

During simulation, detailed imaging scans show the location of a patient’s tumor and the normal areas around it. These scans are usually computed tomography (CT) scans, but they can also include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), and ultrasound scans.


As you can see the are 7 Radiation Therapist Similar Professions:

  • Radiation Oncologist
  • Therapeutic Medical Physicist
  • Radiation Therapist
  • Dosimetrist
  • Radiation Oncology Nurse
  • Social Worker
  • Dietitian



[1] Radiation Therapists - Bureau of Labor Statistics https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/radiation-therapists.htm

[2] Radiation Therapy for Cancer - National Cancer Institute https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types/radiation-therapy/radiation-fact-sheet

[3]  Professions in Radiation Therapy https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=professions-radiation-therapy

[4] Radiation Therapy Profession http://www.ohsu.edu/xd/education/schools/school-of-medicine/academic-programs/radiation-therapy/about/employment-outlook.cfm