University of Wisconsin–Madison

Radiation Therapy (RTT)

Work Activities/Work Locations

  • Radiation Therapist (RTT) treats diseases by exposing specific areas of patients’ bodies to prescribed doses of radiation and repositioning the patient as needed during the procedure. The outcome could be cure, relief of symptoms, and improvement of patient’s quality of life.
  • Work under supervision of radiation oncologists (physicians who use radiation to treat cancer).
  • Evaluates and records daily patients’ side effects or adverse reactions, both physiologic and psychologic responsiveness such as vomiting, hair loss, or anxiety.
  • Use high technology equipment including linear accelerators, X-ray imaging machines, computer tomography scans, and fluoroscopy.
  • Therapists work in hospitals or cancer treatment centers.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Daily interaction with very ill individuals provides special challenges in care giving.
  • Must communicate effectively in order to interact well with patients and family members.
  • Must think critically.
  • Have a team approach mentality.
  • Routinely lift 20 pounds over your head (blocks, treatment cones, and other treatment devices).
  • Stand on your feet more than 80 percent of the time.
  • Work near radiation.
  • Employment outlook is very good. Radiation Technology will become safer and more effective and prescribed more often, leading to a demand for Radiation Therapists.

 Education: 4-5 years

 Patient Interaction: High

 Physical Activity: Medium

 Salary: $80,145

 Job Growth: Medium

Getting Started

  • High School Courses

    High school courses should include advanced math, chemistry, biology, anatomy & physiology, and critical thinking.

  • Education and Training
    • The only training program in Wisconsin is at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse. A Bachelor’s Degree, Associate Degree, or Certificate in Radiation are usually required to obtain a position. Many States require Radiation Therapists to be licensed, though Wisconsin is not one of them.
    • UW-LaCrosse offers a Bachelor’s Degree in Radiation Therapy and requires a minimum of six semesters in Pre-Professional and Professional core courses prior to the senior clinical internship. The clinical internship begins in July of the senior year, lasts for 13 months, and is spent at an affiliated hospital clinical internship site. Admission to the major is on a competitive basis. Upon acceptance, students may then register for the professional core courses. Students who successfully meet program requirements interview at clinical sites. Upon selection by one of the sites, students will be placed in their senior clinical internship and will most likely relocate.
    • Mayo School of Health Sciences at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN offers a 12 month Radiation Therapy Program. Applicants must have completed an accredited radiography program with a GPA of 3.0 or higher; documented observation experience in radiation oncology; and have specific prerequisite college course work. www.mayo.edu/mshs/rt-rch-admissions.html
    • Pre-professional course requirements include English Composition, Speech/Oral Communication, College Algebra, Anatomy & Physiology.
    • Professional Core courses include Genetics, Radiology of Cancer, Radiobiology, Health Communications, US Health Systems, Radiation Readings, Writings, and Research, Patient Care Issues, Imaging, Radiation Physics, and Medical Terminology.

    Educational Institutions

    University of Wisconsin – La Crosse

    Clinical Program Sites

    • Aspirus Hospital, Cancer Center, Wausau
    • Columbia-St. Mary’s, Milwaukee
    • Community Memorial Hospital, Menomonee Falls
    • Froedtert Hospital, Milwaukee
    • Gundersen Lutheran, LaCrosse
    • St. Vincent Hospital, Green Bay
    • Turville Bay MRI & Radiation Oncology Center, Madison
    • University of WI Hospital and Clinics, Madison
    • Veteran’s Administration Hospital, Milwaukee
    • Waukesha Memorial Hospital, Waukesha
  • Method of Entry
    • The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) provides certification in 3 Primary disciplines of radiologic technology: Radiography, Nuclear Medicine Technology, and Radiation Therapy.
    • Upon completion of an accredited AND recognized by ARRT program in Radiation Therapy, graduates are eligible to apply to take the national examination offered by ARRT to become Certified.
    • Currently (2015) a Bachelor’s Degree, Associate Degree, OR Certificate in radiation is required by ARRT for application to take exam for Certification. On or after 2015 eligibility requirements for application to take exam for Certification (ARRT) in Radiography, Nuclear Medicine Technology, and Radiation Therapy will call for a candidate to have earned an Associate Degree (or more advanced degree) from an appropriately accredited AND recognized by ARRT institution. The Associate Degree can be in any major when combined with a Clinical Program in Radiation Therapy; it will satisfy the general education requirements. Prerequisites for admission into specific Clinical Radiation Therapy Programs vary.
  • Professional Organizations

    American Board of Radiology
    5441 East Williams Circle
    Tucson, AZ, 85711-7412
    520/790-2900
    theabr.org

    American Registry of Radiologic Technologists
    1255 Northland Dr.
    St. Paul, MN, 55120-1155
    651/687-0048
    www.arrt.org

    American Society for Radiation Oncology
    8280 Willow Oaks Corporate Dr., Suite 500
    Fairfax, VA, 22031
    703/502-1550 or 800/962-7876
    www.astro.org

    American Society of Radiologic Technologists
    15000 Central Ave. SE
    Albuquerque, NM, 87123-3909
    505/298-4500 or 800/444-2778
    www.asrt.org

    Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology
    20 N. Wacker Dr., Suite 2850
    Chicago, IL, 60606-3182
    312/704-5300
    www.jrcert.org/

    Radiation Research Society
    380 Ice Center Lane, Suite C
    Bozeman, MT, 59718
    877/216-1919
    www.radres.org

    Radiation Therapy Oncology Group
    1818 Market St., Suite 1720
    Philadelphia, PA, 19103
    215/574-3150
    www.rtog.org

Career Outlook

Number Employed in 2014 (Wisconsin): 370
Number Employed in 2014 (U.S.): 16,600
Expected Employment in 2024 (U.S.): 18,900
Percent Employment Growth (2014-2024): 14%
Expected Annual Openings: 620
Median Salary in 2014 (Wisconsin): $80,145

Salary information is located at Career One Stop

Wisconsin AHEC Health Careers Information Center provides the most current salary information available from CareerOneStop. CareerOneStop will have a lapse between when the information is gathered and when it is released.

  • Work 40-hour workweek usually during the day. May have to go in for emergencies.

ARRT offers post-Primary pathways to certification in computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Quality Management, bone density, sonography, and vascular sonography.