Mammography technologists are allied health professionals who specialize in operating a mammography unit, a medical imaging system used to X-ray breasts for diagnostic purposes. They’re responsible for detecting abnormalities in breast tissue through mammographic imaging and providing these internal images to radiologists/physicians for diagnosis.
Mammograms are an invaluable part of medical care because they help detect and diagnose breast cancer and other breast diseases in the earliest, most treatable stages. The importance of these procedures keeps mammography techs in high demand with projected job growth of 7% between 2019 and 2029 for all types of radiologic technicians (BLS).
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Mammography Tech FAQs
What does a mammography tech do?
Mammography techs operate specialized X-ray equipment to perform various mammography-related procedures for breast screenings and diagnostic purposes. They may use a conventional low-dose X-ray system, full-field digital mammography system, or 3-D mammography and digital breast tomosynthesis. Common job duties for mammography technicians may include:
Confirming patient identities and reviewing imaging requests
Explaining procedures to patients and answering questions
Positioning and immobilizing a patient’s breast using compression mechanisms
Monitoring the scanning process
Adjusting the contrast or density to improve image quality
Reviewing and evaluating images to determine quality for diagnostic purposes
Retaking images if there are issues with contrast, density, definition, or distortion
Forwarding images to radiologist/physician trained to interpret radiology exams
Completing patient record charting to document mammogram services
Using radiation safety measures/protective equipment to ensure patient and staff safety
Cleaning, calibrating, and maintaining radiology equipment
Troubleshooting equipment malfunctions and diagnosing equipment problems
Scheduling equipment service and repairs
Inventorying mammography supplies and ordering stock
Where do mammography techs work?
The majority of mammography techs work in hospitals, but there are positions in a variety of healthcare settings. Mammography techs may be employed by imaging clinics, women’s clinics, outpatient care centers, private physician’s offices, and other facilities that perform imaging services. With the ever-present need to reach underserved women in the community, they may also find employment with mobile mammography units.
What skills make a good mammography tech?
Good mammography techs have in-depth knowledge of sophisticated computer and radiology equipment with strong scientific and technical skills. They’re also highly knowledgeable in anatomy, medical terminology, and radiation safety. Successful mammography techs have exceptional people skills. They’re comfortable with the human body and interacting physically with patients in a compassionate manner. They possess excellent communication skills, which allows them to effectively interact with colleagues and patients alike. Self-motivated, detail-oriented mammography techs with superb critical thinking, multitasking, and organizational skills are highly desirable job candidates.
How to become a Travel Mammography Tech
The first step towards a career as a mammography tech is earning a degree. Most mammography techs have an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree in radiology, then they specialize in mammography. Most states require licensure, which may involve American Registry of Radiologic Technology (ARRT) certification.
Mammography techs must first become an ARRT-certified radiology tech, then receive additional education and clinical training in the field of mammography. After passing an ethics review and knowledge exam, applicants can become ARRT-certified in mammography. The entire process to become certified can take up to 24 months. Travel mammography tech applicants often need Basic Life Support certification, ARRT certification and/or state licensing, and one to two years of mammographic technologist experience.