Radiation Therapist

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Job Outlook:
As fast as average
Growth % to 2032: 2.4 %
Education: Associate's degree
High: $133,260.00
Average: $98,340.00
Average: $47.28

What they do:

Provide radiation therapy to patients as prescribed by a radiation oncologist according to established practices and standards. Duties may include reviewing prescription and diagnosis; acting as liaison with physician and supportive care personnel; preparing equipment, such as immobilization, treatment, and protection devices; and maintaining records, reports, and files. May assist in dosimetry procedures and tumor localization.

On the job, you would:

  • Position patients for treatment with accuracy, according to prescription.
  • Administer prescribed doses of radiation to specific body parts, using radiation therapy equipment according to established practices and standards.
  • Follow principles of radiation protection for patient, self, and others.

Important Qualities

Compassion. Radiation therapists work with patients who are suffering from cancer or another serious disease. They must display empathy while helping patients through the experience.

Detail oriented. Radiation therapists must follow precise instructions and input exact measurements to make sure the patient is exposed to the correct amount of radiation.

Interpersonal skills. Radiation therapists work closely with patients over multiple weeks and must be able to explain the treatment. Radiation therapists also must work well with other members of the oncology team to effectively coordinate care.

Technical skills. Radiation therapists work with computers and large pieces of technological equipment, so they must be comfortable operating those devices.


A3 Your Strengths Importance

Characteristics of this Career

96% Attention to Detail  -  Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
95% Concern for Others  -  Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
93% Dependability  -  Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
92% Cooperation  -  Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
92% Integrity  -  Job requires being honest and ethical.
87% Self-Control  -  Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
85% Adaptability/Flexibility  -  Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
82% Stress Tolerance  -  Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
81% Social Orientation  -  Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
80% Initiative  -  Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
78% Analytical Thinking  -  Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
74% Persistence  -  Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
74% Achievement/Effort  -  Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
67% Leadership  -  Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
67% Innovation  -  Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
67% Independence  -  Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
A3 Your Strengths Importance


78% Social  -  Work involves helping, teaching, advising, assisting, or providing service to others. Social occupations are often associated with social, health care, personal service, teaching/education, or religious activities.
72% Realistic  -  Work involves designing, building, or repairing of equipment, materials, or structures, engaging in physical activity, or working outdoors. Realistic occupations are often associated with engineering, mechanics and electronics, construction, woodworking, transportation, machine operation, agriculture, animal services, physical or manual labor, athletics, or protective services.
67% Conventional  -  Work involves following procedures and regulations to organize information or data, typically in a business setting. Conventional occupations are often associated with office work, accounting, mathematics/statistics, information technology, finance, or human resources.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Values of the Work Environment

89% Relationships  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
89% Support  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
67% Achievement  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
67% Working Conditions  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
61% Independence  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.


A3 Your Strengths Importance

Abilities | Cognitive, Physical, Personality

75% Oral Comprehension  -  The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
72% Oral Expression  -  The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
72% Problem Sensitivity  -  The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
69% Written Comprehension  -  The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
66% Written Expression  -  The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
66% Information Ordering  -  The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).

Job Details

Schedule patient procedures or appointments.
Operate diagnostic or therapeutic medical instruments or equipment.
Administer cancer treatments.
Position patients for treatment or examination.
Adjust settings or positions of medical equipment.
Enter patient or treatment data into computers.
Protect patients or staff members using safety equipment.
Maintain medical facility records.
Verify accuracy of patient information.
Examine medical instruments or equipment to ensure proper operation.
Monitor patient conditions during treatments, procedures, or activities.
Inform medical professionals regarding patient conditions and care.
Examine patients to assess general physical condition.
Explain medical procedures or test results to patients or family members.
Interact with patients to build rapport or provide emotional support.
Calculate numerical data for medical activities.
Fabricate medical devices.
Process x-rays or other medical images.
Operate diagnostic imaging equipment.
Develop medical treatment plans.
Train medical providers.
Supervise patient care personnel.
Inform medical professionals regarding patient conditions and care.
Assist healthcare practitioners during examinations or treatments.
Prepare medications or medical solutions.
Sterilize medical equipment or instruments.
Prepare medications or medical solutions.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Attributes & Percentage of Time Spent

99% Contact With Others  -  How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others (face-to-face, by telephone, or otherwise) in order to perform it?
98% Physical Proximity  -  To what extent does this job require the worker to perform job tasks in close physical proximity to other people?
97% Importance of Being Exact or Accurate  -  How important is being very exact or highly accurate in performing this job?
95% Exposed to Disease or Infections  -  How often does this job require exposure to disease/infections?
93% Electronic Mail  -  How often do you use electronic mail in this job?
93% Face-to-Face Discussions  -  How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?
93% Telephone  -  How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?
92% Importance of Repeating Same Tasks  -  How important is repeating the same physical activities (e.g., key entry) or mental activities (e.g., checking entries in a ledger) over and over, without stopping, to performing this job?
89% Indoors, Environmentally Controlled  -  How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions?
88% Consequence of Error  -  How serious would the result usually be if the worker made a mistake that was not readily correctable?
87% Time Pressure  -  How often does this job require the worker to meet strict deadlines?
86% Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls  -  How much does this job require using your hands to handle, control, or feel objects, tools or controls?
85% Work With Work Group or Team  -  How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?
83% Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results  -  What results do your decisions usually have on other people or the image or reputation or financial resources of your employer?
79% Frequency of Decision Making  -  How frequently is the worker required to make decisions that affect other people, the financial resources, and/or the image and reputation of the organization?
78% Freedom to Make Decisions  -  How much decision making freedom, without supervision, does the job offer?
75% Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions  -  How much does this job require making repetitive motions?
74% Spend Time Walking and Running  -  How much does this job require walking and running?
73% Level of Competition  -  To what extent does this job require the worker to compete or to be aware of competitive pressures?
72% Spend Time Standing  -  How much does this job require standing?
71% Structured versus Unstructured Work  -  To what extent is this job structured for the worker, rather than allowing the worker to determine tasks, priorities, and goals?
71% Responsible for Others' Health and Safety  -  How much responsibility is there for the health and safety of others in this job?
70% Pace Determined by Speed of Equipment  -  How important is it to this job that the pace is determined by the speed of equipment or machinery? (This does not refer to keeping busy at all times on this job.)
68% Responsibility for Outcomes and Results  -  How responsible is the worker for work outcomes and results of other workers?
68% Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People  -  How frequently does the worker have to deal with unpleasant, angry, or discourteous individuals as part of the job requirements?
68% Coordinate or Lead Others  -  How important is it to coordinate or lead others in accomplishing work activities in this job?
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Tasks & Values

90% Assisting and Caring for Others  -  Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
90% Controlling Machines and Processes  -  Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
90% Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials  -  Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
90% Documenting/Recording Information  -  Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
88% Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events  -  Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
86% Performing for or Working Directly with the Public  -  Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
86% Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge  -  Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
85% Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates  -  Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
85% Working with Computers  -  Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
84% Getting Information  -  Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
83% Making Decisions and Solving Problems  -  Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
78% Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings  -  Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
74% Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships  -  Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
74% Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards  -  Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
73% Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others  -  Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
73% Performing General Physical Activities  -  Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling materials.
72% Processing Information  -  Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
69% Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People  -  Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
68% Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others  -  Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
68% Training and Teaching Others  -  Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
67% Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work  -  Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
66% Handling and Moving Objects  -  Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.

What Radiation Therapists Do

Radiation therapists
Radiation therapists are part of the oncology teams that treat patients with cancer.

Radiation therapists administer doses of radiation to patients who have cancer or other serious diseases.


Radiation therapists typically do the following:

  • Explain treatment plans to the patient and answer questions about treatment
  • Protect the patients and themselves from improper exposure to radiation
  • Determine the location of tumors to ensure correct positioning of patients for administering each treatment
  • Calibrate and operate the machine to treat the patient with radiation
  • Monitor the patient to check for unusual reactions to the treatment
  • Keep detailed records of treatment

Radiation therapists operate machines, such as linear accelerators, to deliver concentrated radiation therapy to the region of a patient’s tumor. Radiation treatment may shrink or eliminate cancers and tumors.

Radiation therapists are part of the oncology teams that treat patients with cancer. They often work with the following specialists:

  • Medical dosimetrists calculate the correct dose of radiation for cancer treatment
  • Medical physicists help in planning radiation treatments, develop better and safer radiation therapies, and check that radiation output is accurate
  • Oncology nurses specialize in caring for patients with cancer
  • Radiation oncologists are physicians who specialize in radiation therapy

Work Environment

Radiation therapists held about 15,900 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of radiation therapists were as follows:

Hospitals; state, local, and private 66%
Offices of physicians 24
Outpatient care centers 3

Radiation therapists stand for long periods and may need to lift or turn patients.

Injuries and illnesses

Because radiation therapists work with radiation and radioactive materials, they should be aware of the risks involved and must follow safety procedures. These procedures require therapists to be in a different room while administering radiation to a patient and to wear a film badge dosimeter to track their exposure.

Work Schedules

Most radiation therapists work full time. They have a regular work schedule because radiation therapy procedures are usually planned in advance.

Getting Started

Entry Level Education:
Associate's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation:
On The Job Training:
Associate's Degree (or other 2-year degree)
Bachelor's Degree

How to Become a Radiation Therapist

Radiation therapists
Radiation therapists must be licensed or certified in most states.

Radiation therapists typically need an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in radiation therapy. Most states require radiation therapists to be licensed or certified, which often includes passing a national certification exam.


Employers usually prefer to hire applicants who have an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree in a healthcare and related field, such as radiation therapy, or in science technologies or biology. However, candidates may qualify for some positions by completing a certificate program.

Radiation therapy programs include courses in radiation therapy procedures and the scientific theories behind them. These programs often include experience in a clinical setting and courses such as human anatomy and physiology, physics, and algebra. A list of accredited radiation therapy programs is available from the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT).

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

In most states, radiation therapists must be licensed or certified. Requirements vary by state but may include graduating from an accredited radiation therapy program and passing an exam or earning certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).

To become ARRT certified, an applicant must earn an associate’s or higher degree from an approved radiation therapy program, adhere to ARRT ethical standards, and pass the certification exam. The exam covers topics such as radiation protection, treatment planning, and patient care and education.

Many jobs also require cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or basic life support (BLS) certification.


With additional education and certification, therapists may become medical dosimetrists. Dosimetrists are responsible for calculating the correct dose of radiation that is used in the treatment of cancer patients.

Job Outlook

Employment of radiation therapists is projected to grow 2 percent from 2022 to 2032, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 700 openings for radiation therapists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.


Radiotherapy plays a central role in cancer treatment, with around half of cancer patients requiring radiation at some point during their care. Because the incidence of cancer increases as people age, a rise in the number of older people is likely to increase demand for radiation therapists. However, growing adoption of more efficient radiotherapy techniques, which allow patients to finish their treatment in fewer visits, may limit employment demand.

Contacts for More Information

For more information about radiation therapists, visit

American Society of Radiologic Technologists

The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists

For a list of accredited programs in radiation therapy, visit

The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of radiation therapists.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2022
Dental hygienists Dental Hygienists

Dental hygienists examine patients for signs of oral diseases, such as gingivitis, and provide preventive care, including oral hygiene.

Associate's degree $81,400
Diagnostic medical sonographers Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians

Diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians operate special equipment to create images or to conduct tests.

Associate's degree $78,210
medical dosimetrists Medical Dosimetrists

Medical dosimetrists calculate doses of radiation and design and oversee treatment plans for patients with cancer and other serious diseases.

Bachelor's degree $128,970
Nuclear medicine technologists Nuclear Medicine Technologists

Nuclear medicine technologists prepare and administer radioactive drugs for imaging or treatment.

Associate's degree $85,300
Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants Nursing Assistants and Orderlies

Nursing assistants provide basic care and help patients with activities of daily living. Orderlies transport patients and clean treatment areas.

See How to Become One $35,740
Physical therapist assistants and aides Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides

Physical therapist assistants and aides are supervised by physical therapists to help patients regain movement and manage pain after injuries and illnesses.

See How to Become One $57,240
Radiologic technologists Radiologic and MRI Technologists

Radiologic technologists perform diagnostic imaging examinations on patients. MRI technologists operate magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners to create diagnostic images.

Associate's degree $67,180
Registered nurses Registered Nurses

Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care and educate patients and the public about various health conditions.

Bachelor's degree $81,220
Respiratory therapists Respiratory Therapists

Respiratory therapists care for patients who have trouble breathing—for example, because of a chronic condition such as asthma.

Associate's degree $70,540

Information provided by CareerFitter, LLC and other sources.

Sections of this page includes information from the O*NET 27.3 Database by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.

CareerFitter, LLC has modified all or some of this information. USDOL/ETA has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.