Rad Techs – Best States to Work | Cost of Living vs Salary

Reading Time: 5 minutes

As a Rad Tech, where can I live that leaves the most amount of money I earn in my pocket?

Top 10:

  1. Wyoming
  2. Washington
  3. New Mexico
  4. Texas
  5. Illinois
  6. Nevada
  7. Arizona
  8. Minnesota
  9. Delaware
  10. California
  • Wyoming leaves the most money in your pocket. The #1 Roentgen Ranking score. 
  • Hawaii takes the most from your pocket, placing last in the survey.

I already have a few posts (here & here) to answer the common question “How much does a Rad Tech make per hour?” But the real question that should be asked is: “Where can I work as a Rad Tech and get the most bang for my buck?” It doesn’t matter if you make $33.64 per hour if your Cost of Living is 190% (with 100% being the baseline.) That’s the case for Hawaii. It has a very high cost of living so it robs your income out of your pocket just for everyday items like food, shelter, and transportation.

So I created a chart to include the Cost of Living of each state (including D.C.) and cross-referenced it against the average annual salary of licensed radiographers. The outcome is a data point that I’ve sorted from Best Bang for Your Buck to Least Bang for Your Buck. Download the Excel spreadsheet here.

Rad Tech Pay Research Methodology

Since the real question is a result of two data points, let’s define the data points. First is the Cost of Living Index. A Cost of Living Index establishes a useful and reasonably accurate way to compare the cost of living differences between urban areas weighted by different categories of consumer expenditures for mid-management households. The usual sectors of business monitored are housing, transportation, groceries, utilities, healthcare, and a miscellaneous category. These categories will vary based on who is gathering and calculating the data. The desirable data point in terms of the Cost of Living is the lowest value. If state #1 has a total value of 90 and state #2 has a total value of 110, the more desirable state is state #1 because it has the lowest Cost of Living value. This means things like transportation, groceries, utilities, etc cost less than all other states with a higher cost of living.

You can pull this data from places like the Census Bureau or the Department of Labor Statistics. I have chosen MERIC, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center and their 2018 data for the purpose of this article. MERIC derives the cost of living index for each state by averaging the indices of participating cities and metropolitan areas in that state.  Cities across the nation participate in the Council for Community & Economic Research (C2ER) survey on a volunteer basis. Price information in the survey is governed by C2ER collection guidelines that strive for uniformity.  C2ER has collected and published the cost of living index data at the local level since 1968. CNNMoney and BankRate are just two national agencies that rely on this data.

The second data point in my attempt to calculate the biggest bang for the RT buck is the annual salary of rad techs across the country. For this, I have chosen the American Society of Radiologic Technologists’ Radiologic Technologist Wage and Salary Survey from 2016. This is the most current data published at this time. This also gave me a reason to visit my old friend Wolfram Alpha for some calculations. I love the power of that website. I pulled the annual salary from all 51 states (their data included D.C.)and divided by 2080 which is the generally accepted total number of work hours in a year.

Rad Tech Pay Based on the Roentgen Ranking

I’m going to coin a new term here today: the Roentgen Ranking. That is the value I have assigned as the outcome when you divide the Cost of Living Index with the Average Hourly Pay Rate of an RT. Once all 51 states are calculated, the state with the lowest RR is the winner. Ergo, the most bang for the buck has the lowest RR and the least bang for the buck has the highest RR.  With the CoL as the numerator, as the value increases (which is unfavorable), the RR goes up as well (also unfavorable). If the Hourly Pay Rate decreases (unfavorable), the RR increased (unfavorable). So we have a positive correlation with both a decrease in Cost of Living and a positive increase in the Hourly Rate of Pay.

The top score goes to Wyoming. Although they scored 10th place out of 51 on the Cost of Living scale (score = 90.5), their hourly pay rate of $26.83 was high enough to rank them #1 for keeping the most earnings in your pocket.

The worst score goes to Hawaii. Even a decent hourly rate of $33.64 won’t help when you have THE HIGHEST cost of living in the country (dead last at 190.1).

Honorable Mention goes to Washington. Even though their high cost of living ranked them #38 out of 50 ( score = 109.5), they pay their rad techs high enough to enjoy it at $32.11 per hour.

The Unofficial Roentgen Ranking in 2019 for the U.S.

RR State CoLRank Index Hourly Ratio
1 Wyoming 10 90.5 $26.83 3.37
2 Washington 38 109.5 $32.11 3.41
3 New Mexico 15 92.8 $27.20 3.41
4 Texas 12 91.3 $26.52 3.44
5 Illinois 22 95.7 $27.62 3.47
6 Nevada 36 108.3 $30.93 3.50
7 Arizona 24 97.7 $27.86 3.51
8 Minnesota 31 101.5 $28.74 3.53
9 Delaware 35 106 $29.91 3.54
10 California 49 138.7 $39.08 3.55
11 Indiana 9 90.1 $25.25 3.57
12 Oklahoma 2 88.1 $24.59 3.58
13 Ohio 16 92.8 $25.85 3.59
14 Missouri 4 88.8 $24.44 3.63
15 Wisconsin 23 95.8 $26.35 3.64
16 Kansas 8 89.7 $24.52 3.66
17 Michigan 5 89.3 $24.32 3.67
18 Idaho 20 94.2 $25.42 3.71
19 North Carolina 19 94 $25.08 3.75
20 Georgia 11 91.2 $24.25 3.76
21 Nebraska 17 93.3 $24.65 3.79
22 Louisiana 18 93.6 $24.50 3.82
23 Virginia 32 102 $26.46 3.85
24 Pennsylvania 28 98.6 $25.55 3.86
25 Iowa 13 91.8 $23.71 3.87
26 Tennessee 7 89.5 $22.97 3.90
27 Utah 25 98.2 $25.09 3.91
28 New Hampshire 37 109.3 $27.91 3.92
29 Arkansas 3 88.4 $22.57 3.92
30 Mississippi 1 85.7 $21.86 3.92
31 Rhode Island 42 122.5 $30.81 3.98
32 Vermont 40 118.7 $29.57 4.01
33 Massachusetts 47 133.8 $33.27 4.02
34 Kentucky 14 91.8 $22.60 4.06
35 West Virginia 21 94.7 $23.21 4.08
36 South Carolina 26 98.3 $23.84 4.12
37 Florida 30 98.9 $23.96 4.13
38 Colorado 34 105.5 $25.44 4.15
39 North Dakota 29 98.7 $23.72 4.16
40 Oregon 45 131.2 $31.51 4.16
41 New Jersey 41 122.5 $29.38 4.17
42 South Dakota 27 98.5 $23.54 4.18
43 Montana 33 104 $24.52 4.24
44 Maine 39 117.2 $26.90 4.36
45 Alabama 6 89.5 $20.40 4.39
46 Connecticut 43 128.8 $29.11 4.43
47 Maryland 46 131.3 $29.59 4.44
48 Alaska 44 130.6 $29.23 4.47
49 New York 48 135.7 $30.08 4.51
50 District of Columbia 50 162.9 $33.66 4.84
51 Hawaii 51 190.1 $33.64 5.65


Column 1 – The Roentgen Ranking

Column 2 – The State

Column 3 – The MERIC Cost of Living Rank (the lowest rank is the state with the lowest overall cost of living)

Column 4 – the MERIC Cost of Living score

Column 5 – The average hourly rate of pay for rad techs in that state

Column 6 – the Roentgen Ratio – CoL divided by hourly rate of pay

Other notable mentions:

Even though Mississippi ranked #1 on the Cost of Living survey (score = 85.7), they didn’t score well on the Roentgen Ranking because they only pay their techs on average $21.86 per hour.

Top 10 states to keep the earnings in your pocket (in order of most to least): Wyoming, Washington, New Mexico, Texas, Illinois, Nevada, Arizona, Minnesota, Delaware, and California.

I was thinking about doing a follow-up article for the advanced modalities. Would you be interested in the data? If so, please leave a comment below and tell me which advanced modality you would be interested in seeing. If I get enough requests, I’ll do the research and post the results.

If you found this helpful and/or interesting, please share this article on social media. There should be links on the left side of the page.

Additional Information:

If you are curious about the career of radiography, I have written some articles on various topics:

I hope you find this helpful. You are welcome to email me with any questions. Thanks for stopping by TheRadiologicTechnologist.com.

Ron – [email protected]

Ron Jones MSRS, RT (R,CT) ARRT

Ron is huge radiology nerd. It started with Xray school at Pima Medical Institute in Mesa, AZ. He was crosstrained in CT during his Xray clinical rotations at Mesa General Hospital. Then immediately returned to school for ultrasound at Gateway Community College as he started his first job as an Xray/CT Tech. Not much later learned MRI out of necessity at his small rural hospital in Apache Junction, AZ. A decade later he found himself as a manager in a level one trauma center. Currently he is a system operations director over an entire hospital system and loves every minute of it.

4 thoughts on “Rad Techs – Best States to Work | Cost of Living vs Salary

  1. Thank you for that well articulated article. I am currently studying for MRI certification and I’ve been wondering whether I should relocate from Delaware to be able to enjoy the profession. I noticed that Delaware score about $29 per hour for regular techs. I have two jobs; full time is outpatient with $24/hr and PRN hospital with $28/hr.
    I would be interested to know which State is favorable for MRI techs.

  2. Pingback: How Much do Xray Techs Make per Hour with Four Years Experience?
  3. Pingback: How Much Does a XRay Tech Make an Hour?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Content

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This