Radiographer vacancy rates continue to decline, society finds

August 12, 2010
NeedsFixing

The vacancy rate for radiographers has continued to decline in recent years and is now at 2.1%, according to a staffing survey recently conducted by the American Society of Radiologic Technologists.

The vacancy rate for radiographers has continued to decline in recent years and is now at 2.1%, according to a staffing survey recently conducted by the American Society of Radiologic Technologists.

The vacancy rate, which represents the number of positions that are open and actively being recruited, is the lowest since the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) began collecting data in 2003. A vacancy rate of 2.1% for radiographers means that for every 100 budgeted full-time positions, an estimated 2.1 are unfilled.

“Vacancy rates continue to drop year after year, signaling that the job market for radiologic technologists has tightened considerably since the profession experienced its last personnel shortage in the early 2000s,” said ASRT vice president of education and research Myke Kudlas. “In radiography, for example, our staffing surveys showed vacancy rates of 10.3% in 2003, 7.7% in 2004, 5.4% in 2005, 4.5% in 2006, 3.7% in 2007 and 3.4% in 2008. The vacancy rate for 2009 was 2.5%, and the current rate is 2.1%.”

Vacancy rates for other medical imaging disciplines and specialties also dropped between 2003 and 2010, according to the staffing survey: 

  • Computed tomography technologists: from 8.5% in 2003 to 2.6% in 2010

  • Magnetic resonance technologists: from 9% to 3.4%

  • Mammographers: from 7.2% to 1.8%

  • ?Nuclear medicine technologists: from 10.9% to 2.1%

  • Cardiovascular-interventional technologists: from 14.6% to 3.5%

  • Sonographers: from 11.7% to 4.6%

In addition, the staffing survey showed that 54.4% of respondents are not currently recruiting technologists for their radiology departments. A total of 1654 managers and directors of U.S. hospital-based radiology departments or facilities responded to the survey in June 2010.

Other ASRT research shows that entering-class enrollments in radiologic science educational programs have declined each year since 2007. Enrollments typically decrease when staffing demand is low and increase when demand is high.

“This may indicate that programs are reducing enrollment numbers in response to the low vacancy rates,” Kudlas said. The enrollment research was performed in late 2009.

The ASRT performs staffing and enrollment surveys to provide data to managers, educational program directors, and prospective students so they can make informed decisions, Kudlas said.

“We hope that these data are used by decision makers to help to flatten out the peaks and valleys in staffing levels that have occurred in the profession during the past 20 years,” he said.

However, Kudlas noted that future demand for radiologic technologists is difficult to predict and impossible to control.

“Many variables will influence future demand for medical imaging professionals, including an aging population, the impact of healthcare legislation, exam reimbursement trends, advances in technology, and the strength of the nation’s overall economy,” he said. “Any one of these variables can dramatically shift the balance between work force supply and demand.”

Complete results of the survey are available on the ASRT website.