So you have finally decided to apply to x ray tech school. That is a terrific decision. One I made almost 20 years ago. It has been one of the best decisions I ever made. So awesome, in fact, that my wife went to x ray tech school just a few years after I completed it. We have written this guide to help you on your journey.
Here is the best way to get accepted into the rad tech school of your choice (short version, details after):
- Do your research. Do you know any employees at the school? Past or present students of the program? Exploit every contact.
- Call the school and see if they have an entrance exam. The Wonderlic is a very common entrance test and many copies can be found online.
- Get your resume polished and up-to-date. Use a professional service if necessary. This is your first impression in the eyes of the school.
- Find out what all of the prerequisites are to be accepted into the program. Make sure those are done. Retake past classes if you scored a low grade.
- Figure out somewhere you can shadow a rad tech for a few hours. Take notes on what you see and learn to share during your interview.
- Research the internet for common interview questions. Write your responses and practice them before the interview. Past or present student connections could help.
- Plan out some volunteer time to be completed prior to your application. This goes on your resume and you should be sure to share it during your interview. Bonus points for volunteering in a healthcare setting.
- Research the profession itself. You don’t have to know how x-rays are produced (yet) but you should know some basic concepts and terminology.
- Make a study plan centered around how you are going to juggle work, personal life, and school to be successful. You may get asked how you are going to manage it.
- Learn the concept of a clinical rotation and specifically what happens on a radiography clinical rotation. Share that you understand some basics in your interview.
- Finally, have an idea of how you are going to pay for school. You may get asked during your interview. Answering that you don’t know will say you don’t prepare for things.
There are a lot of things you can do to prepare for your radiography school application process. Each item listed above shows that you are intelligent enough to research a situation and plan to succeed. One of my favorite interview questions that I personally ask when on an interview panel is “What did you do to prepare for this interview?’ You wouldn’t believe how many people say things like “Well, my girlfriend/boyfriend dropped me off here…” Or my second favorite response “Well, I took a shower this morning….” The more prepared you are for your interview, the greater you will outshine your competition. Don’t leave it to chance. Failing to plan is planning to fail.
For X Ray Tech School, It May Not Be What You Know…But Who You Know
How many times have you heard that one? It isn’t logical and certainly doesn’t help a team grow when an employee is hired solely on account that he knew somebody at the company. But, before we cast stones and call them cheats, you absolutely should utilize this type of resource in an honest way. If you do know someone at the school… pepper them with questions.
- Do you like working here?
- How long have you worked here?
- Would you recommend this rad tech program to family and friends?
- Do you know who my teachers would be if I was a student in the rad tech program?
- Is that person nice?
- Have you ever heard a student say they were unhappy with the program?
- Do you know if graduates have an easy or hard time finding a job after graduation? |
- And finally, would you mind being a reference for me if I apply?
All of these answers can help you decide if you really want to apply to this particular program. There are plenty of toxic imaging programs out there and you don’t want to be in one. Craft all of these answers into your interview answers. “What did I do to prepare for this interview?’ Well, I talked to a few employees/students and found out most students land jobs right after graduation and they said you are known as a great instructor (bonus!).
The more you know, the better you will look during the interview. The same thing applies to any former or current students of the rad tech program.
Entrance Exams for X Ray Tech Schools are Found Using Google
My alma mater, Pima Medical Institute, requires a test called the Wonderlic test for applicants. This is a standard skills exam that is given to a lot of different industries. The NFL is known to require this same test of the new football players when they enter the league.
You can google Wonderlic and find tons of sample tests complete with answer keys. Find the tests, study them well and be prepared. This should be one part of your application process that you ace. If taking tests tend to make you nervous and you tend not to do well, spend an appropriate amount of time taking these at home.
A Strong, Healthy Resume Speaks Volumes to Get into X Ray Tech School
I wrote a very in-depth article on how to craft an x ray tech resume here. You should definitely check that out when you are done with this article.
Resumes are representatives of you and often bring judgment about you before you even meet the program officials. Take the time to spruce up your resume and make it look nice. There are lots of examples on the internet or you can ask for help. Include your basic contact information like name, address, and phone number. Then list where you have gone to school and where you have worked.
Also, list the places you volunteer as we talked about at the beginning of this post. Add what you do to give back to the local community. Depending on where you live, you may not want to list anything related to political or religious affiliation. Always take copies of your resume with you to an interview. Don’t assume they will print out extra copies and have them ready. I have seen too many times where human resources failed to bring the resumes to the interview…. and so did the candidate.
Classes You Should Take Before Applying to X Ray Tech School
Many schools require that you take certain classes before you apply to x ray tech school. These classes are typical “building block” type classes or classes that give you a foundational understanding of a subject. The x ray tech program then builds upon that foundation with additional knowledge during the different courses. If that foundation isn’t there in the beginning, it could be too hard for you to keep up with the class.
An example of a common prerequisite course is general mathematics. You need a good basic understanding of fundamental math concepts before the x ray tech school tries to teach you radiation physics. Another one is basic anatomy and physiology coursework. The rad tech program will want to build on that foundation with specific classwork that covers radiology-specific anatomy and physiology.
Students that don’t have this basic foundation tend to do poorly in the program. This increases the number of students who can’t pass the program or can’t pass the national board exams. Either way, it makes the school look bad and they can lose federal funding for higher than acceptable failure rates. You need to determine which are required and get them done before you apply. X ray tech school counselors can help determine what you need. Don’t hesitate to call them and set up an appointment to talk.
If you already had one but got a grade of “C” or worse, consider retaking it to get a better grade. It will also raise your GPA and show you are serious about getting into the program.
Shadow Someone Already in the Field of Radiography
Call your local hospitals and ask if they allow people to shadow techs in the radiology department. That is a very common phrase and they should know what you are asking. You may have to speak directly to the imaging director to find out. Let them know that you are interested in a radiography career and you just want to see it first hand. Understand that having nonemployees in the department can cause privacy issues.
Nonemployees are not allowed to see private patient information or they can get in big legal trouble. Be prepared to hear the director decline but also be able to speak to it. Tell them you understand the basics of patient privacy and you will follow any and all rules they establish if you are allowed to shadow a technologist.
It can be for as little as two hours or a full day. Try to stay long enough to see technologists examine several patients. This will allow you to see different equipment and scenarios that imaging operates in. Take note of the pace of the workflow and the demeanor of the staff. Share your experience during the interview process as an eye-opening experience. Tell them that you want to help patients the same way as the techs you shadowed. Talk about compassion and technology.
Prepare for the X Ray Tech School Interview Well in Advance
There is plenty of information on the internet to help prepare for your interview. Use Google to find the top 20 questions that get asked. Don’t just look for the top 20 answers though. Look for the “why” behind the top 20 questions. Interview questions are designed with an outcome in mind. Usually, it is to see how you handle a certain type of conflict. You can memorize the popular answers but you should attempt to understand what they are really asking. Commonly they look for critical thinking skills and how you handled a stressful situation.
I listed quite a few of the standard questions that I have both heard when I applied AND have used to hire new x ray techs. Read about them and why they are asked in his article.
Become a Part-Time Volunteer
As an employer, I want to know that the person I hire isn’t interested in just punching a clock and doing the bare minimum work. I look for candidates who give back to our community and get involved. With so many people applying for jobs, you will want to make yourself stand out above the crowd. This is one of the best ways to accomplish that. You can volunteer in the hospital by being a greeter at the front desk.
Or sign up around town at the local soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Coach youth sports for the local YMCA or work a few shifts at a Goodwill Thrift Shop. Be someone who gives back and not just takes away. Talk about this in your interview and put it on your resume.
Show That You are Serious About X Ray Tech School With a Plan
They may ask how you plan to handle school and personal time. If you have a family they may ask how you will juggle school and family responsibilities. Have a written plan on how you will do these things and show that you have already covered your bases. The more planning you can work out ahead of time, the more successful you are likely to be in the program. The school officials will recognize this as a sign that you will make the school look good by being a successful student. Plan ahead on how you will pay for the program and how you will manage your studies and clinical rotations.
Follow these basic guidelines and you will have an advantage over the other applicants. If you want to talk over any of these points or have questions, shoot me an email and I’d be happy to share sample resumes, ideas and other methods to help you succeed.
Good luck! Remember, there are over 337,000+ REGISTERED x ray techs in America. So not only did they get accepted AND graduate. They also passed the national board exams given by the ARRT. If they can do it, so can you!
If you are curious about the career of radiography, I have written some articles on various topics: