How To Become A Radiation Therapist In California

Last Updated on August 30, 2023

Have you searched the internet and not found reliable information on how to become a radiation therapist in California? You worry no more. Search no further as collegeLearners bring all round information. You will also find out about other related searches like, Radiation Therapist Skills Needed, How Do I Qualify? Radiation Therapy Schools in California, Wages and Benefits Can To Expect? and many more.

Steps to Become a Radiation Therapist - ARRT Certification

Radiation therapists administer radiation therapy to cancer patients as directed by a radiation oncologist and in accordance with accepted practices and guidelines. They may conduct a review of the prescription and diagnosis, as well as serve as a liaison with the physician and other members of the supportive care team. Radiation therapists can also help with tumor localization and dosimetry operations, which is the process of calculating radiation doses, by repairing or creating equipment such as immobilization, therapy, and protective devices.
Patients are treated with radiation using a machine called a linear accelerator by radiation therapists.

How To Become A Radiation Therapist In California

The first step in the radiation therapy process is simulation. During simulation, the Radiation Therapist uses an X-ray imaging machine or computer tomography (CT) scan to pinpoint the location of the tumor. The Therapist then positions the patient and adjusts the linear accelerator so that, when treatment begins, radiation exposure is concentrated on the tumor cells. The Radiation Therapist then develops a treatment plan in conjunction with a radiation oncologist (a physician who specializes in therapeutic radiology) and a dosimetrist (a professional who calculates the dose of radiation that will be used for treatment). The Therapist later explains the treatment plan to the patient and answers any questions that the patient may have.

The next step in the process is treatment. To begin, the Radiation Therapist positions the patient and adjusts the linear accelerator according to the guidelines established in simulation. Then, from a separate room that is protected from the X-ray radiation, the Therapist operates the linear accelerator and monitors the patient’s condition through a TV monitor and an intercom system. Treatment can take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes and is usually administered once a day, 5 days a week, for 2 to 9 weeks.

During the treatment phase, the Radiation Therapist monitors the patient’s physical condition to determine if any adverse side effects are taking place. The Therapist must also be aware of the patient’s emotional well-being. Because many patients are under stress and are emotionally fragile, it is important for the Therapist to maintain a positive attitude and provide emotional support.

Radiation Therapists keep detailed records of their patients’ treatments. These records include information such as the dose of radiation used for each treatment, the total amount of radiation used to date, the area treated, and the patient’s reactions. These records are reviewed by radiation oncologists and dosimetrists to ensure that the treatment plan is working, to monitor the amount of radiation exposure that the patient has received, and to keep side effects to a minimum.

Radiation Therapists may also assist medical radiation physicists, professionals who monitor and adjust the linear accelerator. However, because Radiation Therapists often work alone during the treatment phase, they need to be able to check the linear accelerator for problems and make any needed adjustments. Therapists might also assist dosimetrists with routine aspects of dosimetry.

Some tools the Radiation Therapist uses include medical software, graphics or photo imaging software, radiation detectors, ultrasound imaging equipment, radiation shielding lead aprons, electrometers, and distance meters.

15 Best Radiation Therapist Schools for international Students In 2022

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements

Employers usually require applicants to complete an associate or a bachelor’s degree program in radiation therapy. Individuals also may qualify by completing an associate or a bachelor’s degree program in radiography, which is the study of radiological imaging, and then completing a 12-month certificate program in radiation therapy. Radiation therapy programs include core courses on radiation therapy procedures and the scientific theories behind them. Many employers require training be completed in a program approved by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).


Volunteering in a health care setting can provide valuable experience to prepare for this occupation.

Early Career Planning

Recommended high school courses include biology, physics, algebra, precalculus, writing, speech, and computer science. Introductory courses for health care careers are offered by some Regional Occupational Programs (ROP). To find an ROP program near you, go to the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs Web site.

Continuing Education

Keeping up to date with technological developments in this industry is integral for the Radiation Therapist. California requires 24 units of approved continuing education credits every two years to renew California’s certification/permit. To maintain ARRT certification, 24 hours of approved course credits are required every two years.


In California a certificate is required to use X rays and must be displayed at the worksite. While the Radiologic Health Branch of the California Department of Public Health issues certifications/permits, it requires applicants to take the exam through ARRT.

To become ARRTcertified, an applicant must complete an accredited radiation therapy program, adhere to ARRT ethical standards, and pass the ARRT certification examination. Misdemeanors, felonies, alcohol and drug violations, and school honor code violations are investigated by ARRT’s Ethics Committee.

In order to use the ARRT credential or Registered Technologist (R.T.) designation, the individual must annually register the certification with ARRT. Requirements to register include paying annual dues and satisfying continuing education requirements. California does not require ARRT certification renewal to renew the California certification/permit. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to “Career Tools.” Click on “Certification Finder” and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.

Radiology Careers | BestColleges

Where Can I Find Training?

There are two ways to search for training information:

Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.

TaskSkill Used in this Task
Position patients for treatment with accuracy according to prescription.Inductive Reasoning
Administer prescribed doses of radiation to specific body parts, using radiation therapy equipment according to established practices and standards.Reading Comprehension
Check radiation therapy equipment to ensure proper operation.Operation Monitoring
Review prescription, diagnosis, patient chart, and identification.Written Comprehension
Follow principles of radiation protection for patient, self, and others.Deductive Reasoning
Maintain records, reports and files as required, including such information as radiation dosages, equipment settings and patients’ reactions.Writing
Conduct most treatment sessions independently, in accordance with the long-term treatment plan and under the general direction of the patient’s physician.Critical Thinking
Enter data into computer and set controls to operate and adjust equipment and regulate dosage.Monitoring
Observe and reassure patients during treatment and report unusual reactions to physician or turn equipment off if unexpected adverse reactions occur.Social Perceptiveness
Calculate actual treatment dosages delivered during each session.Complex Problem Solving
Check for side effects such as skin irritation, nausea and hair loss to assess patients’ reaction to treatment.Problem Sensitivity
Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

Radiation Therapy Schools in California

There are two education paths for Radiation Therapy in CA

  • The direct route is to find a school that offers radiation therapy as a major.
  • The alternative path it to enroll in a radiologic technology program and then specialize in radiation therapy later. It is essential to identify a college with a program that is accredited by the corresponding professional body such as American Registry of Radiologic Technicians (JRCERT) and other organizations. strategy makes you more marketable and expands your employment options. It also indicates to potential employers and patients that you can be relied upon to observe the professional standards of ethics strictly. The certification requires continuous education and annual renewal. Let us review a few schools to consider in California.

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1 – Loma Linda University, San Bernardino

With a comprehensive bachelor’s degree course in radiation therapy, it is easy to see the appeal the award-winning university has for potential radiation therapists. It is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and JRCERT. The program is an excellent choice for students qualified in radiologic technology to specialize in radiation therapy. It is also perfect for those who cleared high school and wish to pursue a career in radiation therapy.

Consequently, the degree program is split into two tracks; ARRT-certified entrants and non-ARRT applicants. The program is full-time with a distinct Department of Radiation Technology faculty. It is headed by an ARRT certified clinical coordinator. The faith-oriented university launched the program recently to meet the growing demand for radiation therapy specialists in the country.

In a tradition of pioneering excellence, the program has advanced training modules including proton treatment. The university’s medical center made history in 1990 for its dedicated proton center, the world’s first. Its teaching hospital was ranked number fourteen by US News & World Report in 2014.

Address: 11139 Anderson St, Loma Linda, CA 92350, USA

Phone: +1 909-558-4508

2 – National University, Costa Mesa university was established in 1971. It has seven schools with a strong focus on student success. The program presents an excellent choice to prepare you for the iconic ARRT certification and state licensing. This will open the doors to helping millions of people find relief and improve their quality of life. The degree course in radiation therapy is a full-time course, and clinical internships are allocated.

The university has an additional satellite campus in Sacramento, California. JRCERT accredits it besides more than ten other professional organizations. This ensures you get quality training on radiation therapy treatments, soft skills, agile thinking, and professional codes of conduct.

Address: 3390 Harbor Blvd, Costa Mesa, CA 92626, USA

Phone: +1 714-429-5100

3 – West Coast Ultrasound Institute, Beverly Hills

Rated among the leading 20 trade schools in the US, the Beverly Hills Institute offers two associate degree programs in radiation therapy that are accredited by the ARRT. These are the Diagnostic Medical Sonography and the Magnetic Resonance Imaging associate degree programs. The two-year courses are available at the main campus in Beverly Hills, California, and the satellite campuses of Ontario, California, and Phoenix, Arizona. Institute empowers you with the skills and knowledge to build your radiation therapy career. The college was established by board-certified radiation therapy specialists and employs a fun approach to training. The institute also operates an on-campus, low-cost imaging clinic that enables students to advance their practical training. The teaching staff is all certified, and they hold actual jobs in the medical profession.

This ensures you get access to innovative technology, evolving trends, and imaging standards. The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools (ACCSC) recognized the school with two national awards this year.

Address: 291 S La Cienega Blvd #500, Beverly Hills, CA 90211, USA

Phone: +1 310-289-5123

4 – Brightwood College, Los Angeles

Previously referred to as Kaplan College, the institution is now a part of Brightwood College. The school provides a couple of diploma programs that can form a solid foundation for further studies to a career in radiation therapy. These are the Diagnostic Medical Sonography diploma course and the Radiologic Technology associate degree course that is recognized by the ARRT. The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges, based in Washington, DC recognizes the programs.

The college had the second largest number of graduates as of 2013 in the country who qualified to get further certification as radiation therapists. Remember to identify a program that offers specialization in radiation therapy after completing any of these two programs. The college has recently expanded and has around ten campuses in California alone.

Besides Los Angeles, it has a campus in Fresno, San Diego, Riverside, and Sacramento. It offers flexible programs some of which do not demand fulltime attendance.

What Do Radiation Therapists Do?

Radiation Therapists work in hospitals or cancer treatment centers. These facilities are clean, well lighted, and well ventilated. Therapists do a considerable amount of lifting and must be able to help disabled patients get on and off treatment tables. They spend most of their time on their feet.

Radiation Therapists generally work at least 40 hours a week. Those in other health care occupations normally work during the day. However, because radiation therapy emergencies do occur, some Therapists are required to be on call and may have to work outside their normal hours.

Working with cancer patients can be stressful, but many Radiation Therapists also find it rewarding. Because they work around radioactive materials, Radiation Therapists take great care to ensure that they are not exposed to dangerous levels of radiation. Following standard safety procedures can prevent overexposure.

Radiation Therapists working in a hospital may belong to the union representing the hospital’s employees.

Wages and Benefits Can To Expect?


The median wage in 2021 for Radiation Therapists in California is $126,312 annually, or $60.73 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2021Low
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Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2021 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
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Benefits generally include medical, dental, life, and vision insurance as well as vacation, sick leave, and retirement plans. Some employers offer performance bonuses and tuition reimbursement for continuing education.

Radiation Therapist Skills Needed

In addition to the educational background, radiation therapists should be very detail-oriented. It is imperative that the radiation is delivered to exactly the same spot each time. In addition, you’ll need to be conscientious of your safety and the patients’ safety, since radiation can be dangerous if the proper protocols are not followed. However, your educational program will teach you all the information you need to know to remain safe.

But there are more radiation therapy requirements than just education; radiation therapists should also be personable and able to make patients feel comfortable. Patients may be anxious or nervous about their treatment program, so it is crucial that radiation therapists be able to put them at ease and listen to their concerns.

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