Radiation Therapist Kaihaumanu Pūhihi

Radiation therapists are part of a specialised team that uses radiation to treat diseases, mostly cancers, in patients.

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Radiation therapists need to be registered with the New Zealand Medical Radiation Technologists Board and have a current Annual Practising Certificate.

Radiation therapists may do some or all of the following:

  • work with radiation oncologists (cancer specialists) to plan and deliver treatment
  • use computed tomography (CT) scans, computer programmes and clinical information to plan radiation treatment
  • make immobilisation devices, such as masks, to help patients lie still during treatment
  • build rapport and communicate with patients during treatment
  • deliver radiation treatment using high energy x-ray machines (linear accelerators)
  • educate people about radiation therapy and its side effects.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for radiation therapists includes:

  • any work involving helping or caring for people
  • work in hospitals
  • experience with organisations that work with people who have cancer, for example CanTeen or the Cancer Society.

Personal Qualities

Radiation therapists should be:

  • understanding and empathetic
  • accurate, with an eye for detail
  • able to work well under pressure
  • safety conscious
  • excellent communicators
  • good at planning and organising
  • interested in research
  • good at problem solving.

Skills

Radiation therapists need to have knowledge of:

  • radiation treatment methods and radiation equipment
  • radiation physics and how radiation affects the body
  • anatomy, physiology and pathology
  • how to make patients comfortable.

Conditions

Radiation therapists:

  • usually work regular hours and may also work weekends and be on call
  • work in oncology departments at public and private hospitals.

Subject Recommendations

A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training. Useful subjects include biology, English, maths and physics.

Radiation Therapists can earn around $51K-$80K per year.

Chances of getting a job as a Radiation Therapist are good due to a shortage of people interested in this type of work.

Pay for radiation therapists varies depending on experience and responsibilities. 

  • Radiation therapists usually start on about $51,000 a year.
  • With two to five years' experience they can earn about $59,000 to $80,000.
  • Radiation therapists with extra responsibilities or particular clinical expertise can earn between $83,000 and $107,000.

Sources: New Zealand Institute of Medical Radiation Technology, 2017; and 'APEX and District Health Boards Medical Radiation Technologists Collective Agreement to 2019', 2017.

 

Radiation therapists can progress into management roles or teach in a hospital or university.

Radiation therapists may also move into roles in research, sales and marketing of radiation equipment and cancer drugs, or developing new radiation technology.

Radiation therapists can specialise in:

  • treatment planning
  • CT scanning
  • treatment delivery
  • clinical education and research.

Years Of Training

3 years of training required.

To become a radiation therapist you need to have a Bachelor of Radiation Therapy, or another qualification recognised by the Medical Radiation Technologists Board.

You also need to be registered with the Medical Radiation Technologists Board.

The Bachelor of Radiation Therapy is only available from the University of Otago's Wellington campus, and there are about 30 places on the course each year. You can increase your chances of being accepted on to the course by:

  • having strong NCEA Level 3 results, or at least one year's university study in science and psychology
  • showing an interest in, and knowledge of, radiation therapy.

The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 means that if you have certain serious convictions, you can’t be employed in a role where you are responsible for, or work alone with, children. 

Radiation Therapist