University of Vermont

College of Nursing and Health Sciences

Department of Medical Laboratory and Radiation Sciences

Careers in Radiation Therapy
radiation therapist

"My internships provided me good preparation for my professional career. My research projects ... gave me a more well-rounded view of cancer and the ability to better understand what my patients are going through."
-- Amy C. Mottola '98, radiation therapist, Massachusetts General Hospital

Careers in Radiation Therapy

What is radiation therapy?

Radiation therapy is a medical specialty which uses ionizing radiation such as X-rays, gamma radiation, and electron beams in the treatment of benign and malignant tumors. Radiation therapists work directly with cancer patients and other healthcare practitioners in the daily treatment of patients, using radiation-producing equipment, such as linear accelerators, high dose rate brachytherapy and sterotactic radiosurgery.

What does a career in radiation therapy look like?

Radiation therapists observe the patient's clinical progress, as well as the first signs of treatment side effects. Because treatment often occurs over a length of time, therapists have an opportunity to develop close relationships with patients, as they develop individual treatment plans. Therapists are often patient advocates, as well as friends. The therapist can assist in the initial examination of the patient, simulate the area to be treated, calculate radiation dosage, construct patient immobilization devices, and fabricate beam shaping devices.

Who should go into radiation therapy?

If you like to interact with people and want to be in a helping profession, radiation therapy may be the profession for you. These personality traits, coupled with an interest in the physical sciences and hands-on learning, will position you for success in the field of radiation therapy.

What is the expected job growth?

    According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics:
  • Employment of radiation therapists is projected to grow by 20 percent between 2010 and 2020, which is faster than the average for all occupations.
  • The median annual wage of radiation therapists was $74,980 in May 2010.

For More Information

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

Last modified June 06 2012 09:58 AM