University of Vermont

College of Nursing and Health Sciences

Department of Medical Laboratory and Radiation Sciences

Careers in Nuclear Medicine Technology
Nuclear Medicine Student in Lab

Who Employs Nuclear Medicine Technology Majors?

  • Major medical centers
  • Smaller hospitals
  • Independent imaging centers
  • Universities involved in clinical research

Careers in Nuclear Medicine Technology

When is nuclear medicine used?

Bone scans (used to detect cancer), and cardiac stress tests (used to look for heart disease), are two of the most common tests in which nuclear medicine is used. In addition, procedures involving the thyroid gland, lungs, brain, gall bladder, and stomach are performed by nuclear medicine technologists. PET imaging now enables oncology, cardiac and brain imaging.

What does a career in nuclear medicine technology look like?

Nuclear medicine technologists administer radioactive drugs called radiopharmaceuticals. These materials are attracted to specific organs, bones, or tissues in the body, and they produce emissions detectable by special cameras (scintillation cameras). The camera builds an image of a specific organ by capturing the data points from which radiation is emitted; this image is enhanced by a computer and viewed by a physician on a monitor for indications of abnormal conditions. These safe diagnostic procedures use small amounts of radiation when compared to that of diagnostic x-ray procedures.

Who should go into nuclear medicine technology?

If you want to work in a field which can help restore health, and if you enjoy hands-on learning and have a good manual dexterity, nuclear medicine technology may be the career path for you. Teamwork in cooperative learning situations and small group projects should feel comfortable. Attention to details and computing and quantitative skills are also important.

What is the expected job growth and median salary?

    According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics:
  • Employment of nuclear medicine technologists is expected to increase by 19 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
  • In 2010, about 63 percent of nuclear medicine technologists were employed in hospitals. The remainder were largely employed in physicians' offices or diagnostic labs.
  • The median annual wage of nuclear medicine technologists was $68,560 in May 2010.

For More Information

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook
American Medical Association: Careers in Health Care

Last modified March 29 2012 12:32 PM