Nuclear Medicine Technologists


Education and Training Requirements

High School

To prepare for this work, you should take plenty of high school classes in math and science, including algebra, geometry, biology, chemistry, and physics. If your school offers anatomy classes, take those as well. Health courses may also be beneficial. Because using technology will be a large part of this work, be sure to take computer science classes. Also, because you will have considerable interaction with patients as well as other health care professionals, take English courses to improve your communication skills.

Postsecondary Training

There are several ways to become a nuclear medicine technologist. You can complete at minimum a two-year certificate program, a two-year associate's degree program, or a four-year bachelor's degree program in nuclear medicine technology. Professional training is available at some colleges as part of a bachelor's or associate's program, and it ranges from two to four years in length. Some hospitals and technical schools also offer certificate training programs. Whatever program you decide to attend, make sure it is accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology (JRCNMT). Information on accredited programs is available at the JRCNMT Web site, There are accredited training programs in the United States and Puerto Rico.

Some educational programs are designed for individuals who already have a background in a related health care field, such as radiologic technology, sonography, or nursing. These programs are usually one year in length. A good knowledge of anatomy and physiology is helpful. Course work in nuclear medicine technologist programs includes radiation biology and protection, radioactivity and instrumentation, radiopharmaceuticals and their use on patients, and therapeutic nuclear medicine.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Nuclear medicine technologists must know the minimum federal standards for use and administration of nuclear drugs and equipment. Many states require technologists to be licensed, and licensing requirements vary by state. Certification or registration is also available through the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB) and the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Many nuclear medicine technologist positions, especially those in hospitals, are open only to certified or registered technologists. Information on becoming registered or certified is available from the ARRT and the NMTCB.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Nuclear medicine technicians must demonstrate knowledge about preparing and administering radioactive chemical compounds. They should be experienced at executing imaging procedures using specialized, sophisticated equipment. These technicians should also be skilled at analyzing laboratory specimens and patient data and communicating this information to doctors and other medical staff. Nuclear medicine technicians should exhibit good bedside manners in order to gain patients’ trust and respect. They should have a proven track record of working independently and under pressure.