Mammography Technologist Programs

While all healthcare roles require empathy and sensitivity, one might argue that care and compassion are paramount during a mammogram. Like a genital exam, baring one’s private parts to strangers can leave one feeling vulnerable. Not to mention, a mammogram can be uncomfortable, embarrassing and scary. The good news is that breast cancer rates have been reduced by one-third since 1990 due to mammography.

One in eight women, or roughly 13 percent of women in the United States, will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes. It is the second leading cause of cancer deaths for women after skin cancer. This cancer also affects men which can bring its own dynamic. While rare, it often goes undetected due to a lack of awareness in the male population.

There has been much discussion about varying age and frequency guidelines for mammograms. In 2023, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force moved its recommendation back to age 40 from 50 in terms of the minimum age to start screenings every two years if at average risk.

Additionally, in 2023, new regulations were issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to combat breast cancer in higher-risk cases. This included additional preventative steps concerning breast density and more oversight of mammography facilities. Breast density makes it harder to recognize potential cancers on a mammogram, and it has also been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer. Close to 50 percent of women over the age of 40 in the United States have breast tissue that is considered dense. Therefore, new regulations recommend greater guidance by healthcare providers with these patients regarding risks.

Mammography technologists, sometimes called mammographers, play a vital role in this important patient care. They are responsible for creating images of patients’ breasts using a piece of specialized medical equipment that produces X-rays. A mammography unit is only used for breast X-rays and has special features to hold and compress the breast to take pictures of the breast from positioning at different angles.

Some breast care centers now use digital, 3D mammography units for imaging which can take x-rays simultaneously from various angles, but not all facilities have these advanced units.

In addition to the actual performance of the breast imaging, mammographers review clinical history with patients, prep for the procedure, evaluate the images for technical quality, reperform if needed, and provide interventional procedures and quality control tests.

Mammogram Tech ASRT & ARRT Certification Requirements

The American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) and the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) are both great resources for the required certifications and registrations in mammography.

To perform a mammogram, one must first be a radiologic technologist which requires the following:

  • State license or certification by an FDA-approved organization.
  • Qualification before April 1999 as a radiologic technologist under interim regulations or completion of 40 contact hours of mammography training and examination
  • Uphold continuing education requirements
  • Sustain continuing experience
  • Requalification if the above requirements are not met
  • Maintain a state license or general certification

Afterward, ARRT offers certification and registration in Mammography. This will require each of the following requirements:

Mammogram Tech Training Programs

There are many mammography programs throughout the county that can advance radiologic technologists into mammography. Below are just a few:

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC)

The mammography certificate program was designed to provide advanced instruction and career growth to be competitive in today’s market. Radiology techs who want to take their careers to the next level are encouraged to apply and can do some of the programs online including self-study courses.

Once the course requirements are complete, you will be prepared to take the ARRT exam in mammography and upon successful completion, you’ll begin a two-year work commitment at UPMC which could be at one of multiple locations of its facilities in Pittsburg, Altoona, Everett, Farrell, Greenville, New Castle, McKeesport, Somerset or Aspinwall.

  • Location: Pittsburgh, PA
  • Duration: Four months, full-time track; eight months, part-time
  • Accreditation: AART

College of DuPage

The mammography program at College of DuPage is a one-semester, seven-credit post-radiography advanced certificate program. With limited enrollment and offered once a year during the fall semester, there is a summer application deadline.

Mondays and Wednesdays classes are held at the College of DuPage campus in Glen Ellyn. Clinical rotations can be scheduled with your assigned clinical site and are 16 hours per week. Upon successful completion, students receive an advanced certificate in mammography from the College and are eligible to take the national certification exam in ,ammography administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).

Applicants who graduate from an accredited radiography program and hold or will hold ARRT certification in radiography and a current Illinois Emergency Management Association (IEMA) medical radiography license by the application deadline are eligible to apply for admission.

  • Location: Glen Ellyn, IL
  • Duration: One semester
  • Accreditation: ARRT

Bellevue College

Bellevue Colleges offers training in digital mammography and digital breast tomosynthesis, including 40 contact hours of documented mammography training under a qualified instructor’s supervision and 25 mammography examinations supervised by a MQSA-qualified individual. Eight hours of training are also included in each of the mammography modalities used to perform mammography exams, including full-field digital mammography, digital breast tomosynthesis, screen-film mammography, and xeromammography.

Students are assigned for 200 hours at a mammography facility to satisfy clinical competency requirements for eligibility and to take the ARRT exam.

  • Location: Bellevue, WA
  • Duration: One semester
  • Accreditation: ARRT

Fayetteville Technical Community College (FTCC)

The emphasis at FTCC is to produce mammogram technicians who can produce the highest quality images to make the most accurate diagnoses for patients. Procedures, instrumentation, quality assurance, and patient care are the main focuses of the program.

Once students complete the program, they should be able to perform the following: perform mammographic procedures with adaptation for patient condition and pathology, assist physicians with interventional procedures, provide emotional support and education to patients, maintain equipment, perform quality control testing, and complete extensive tracking to meet MQSA standards.

  • Location: Fayetteville, NC
  • Duration: Two semesters
  • Accreditation: ARRT

Harper College

This four-credit-hour certificate program to become a Registered Mammography Technologist includes an externship. Participants will work alongside skilled instructors who are experts in the mammography field. This is a limited enrollment program and a grade of C or better in all RAD courses is required for all students.

  • Location: Palatine, IL
  • Duration: One semester
  • Accreditation: ARRT

While various programs throughout the country offer mammogram technician certification for those who have already completed radiologic technician programs, some educational programs offer online courses for the didactic portion of the certification. Obviously the clinical part needs to be in person.

Online Mammogram Tech Training

Chattanooga State Community College

The mammography certificate program is newly redesigned and delivered fully online to accommodate working radiologic technologists during the fall semester. Following the content specification of AART, completion of both didactic courses will satisfy the structured education requirement and to be eligible for the post-primary exam offered by the ARRT.

The official mammography certificate will only be awarded to students who complete the requirements for all three courses, which include mammography patient management (4), mammography instrumentation/physics (4), and mammography clinic (8). The clinical education component is conducted at an approved clinical education center under the guidance of an approved clinical educator and includes a minimum of 120 hours of training.

  • Location: Chattanooga, TN
  • Duration: One semester
  • Accreditation: ARRT

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS)

Featuring an “advanced certificate in mammography,” MCPHS has also designed an online, part-time certificate program including a specialized computed mammography credential. Three courses include mammography imaging procedures & patient care, a clinical internship and mammography board review.

  • Location: Boston, MA
  • Duration: One to two semesters based on full-time or part-time
  • Accreditation: ARRT

Core & Elective Courses

Classes offered in mammography certification programs are typically standard and include those relative to dealing with patients, the equipment, protocols and quality assurance. The following are some examples of what to expect:

  • Patient care and management
  • Whole body cross-sectional anatomy
  • Pathology
  • Imaging procedures
  • Scanning methods
  • Digital imaging
  • Quality control
  • Equipment operation
  • Radiation protection

The clinical portion of the program is always an important part of the overall program, offering real-time experience in what to expect. It typically occurs after the classroom portion but can happen concurrently in some expedited programs.

Program Accreditation

ARRT uses accreditation agencies to evaluate educational institutions on the quality of their programs, courses, and faculty. These agencies are sometimes called “mechanisms,” and can be found here.

To be ARRT certified and registered, you must complete a program that is accredited by ARRT and then tested.

To practice asa mammogram technician, one must be certified and registered by ARRT. Previous certification in the supporting discipline as a radiologic technician by ARRT is also required. Sitting for the AART exam after completing a mammogram technician program is required and displays a command of the educational material and clinical experience. Certification also requires certain ethics requirements including reporting any criminal, regulatory, or honor code violations. Some states may also require a state license.

Career Outlook & Salart

According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics report, mammogram techs are categorized as “radiologic technologists and technicians.” They held 215,820 jobs in the United States in 2022 with the following wages (BLS May 2022):

  • Average annual salary: $70,240
  • 10th percentile: $47,760
  • 25th percentile: $57,350
  • 50th percentile (median): $65,140
  • 75th percentile: $80,050
  • 90th percentile: $97,940

Finally, between 2022 and 2032, there’s expected to be 6 percent growth in openings for radiologic techs nationwide—twice as fast as the average growth expected for all occupations.

Catherine Mosley
Catherine Mosley Writer

Catherine Chapman Mosley is a writer living in central Virginia. She’s written extensively on healthcare topics for various outlets and also works full-time in communications, marketing and community engagement. She is the proud parent of a son who is focused on a healthcare career and often seeks his editing help.