Nuclear Medicine Technologist Schools

For people with a unique combination of sociability and a love of technology, a career as a nuclear medicine technologist (NMT) may be a wise choice. This job leverages both a savviness with cutting edge medical equipment and a desire to interact with patients, counseling them through the procedures.  NMTs use equipment such as computed tomography (CT) machines, radiation-sensitive cameras, and dosage meters, helping both young and old patients get the care they need for potentially life-threatening illnesses.

While an associate of applied science degree (AAS) can get a person started in the field, most nuclear medicine technologists continue on to get a bachelor of science (BS) degree. High-profile nuclear medicine technologist schools such as Johns Hopkins University and Vanderbilt University offer students fantastic on-campus options, and there are several 100 percent online BS and certification options available for those with related medical technology experience or credentials.

Successful NMTs tend to be good with people and have a drive to continually learn about the workings of the human body. In addition to critical thinking skills and grace under pressure, a nuclear medicine technologist must be able to memorize key facts, diagnoses, and data, and then synthesize that and apply it in order to correctly administer radiologic tests and analyze results. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017) reports that these medical professionals make an average annual salary of $77,660, much higher than the average for all American occupations.

If all of this sounds enticing, read on.

Nuclear Medicine Technologist fast facts
Projected Jobs Created2,000
Projected Job Growth10%
Low Salary$54,410
Average Salary (Median)$77,660
High Salary$103,660
Entry-Level EDU Associate's Degree
Sourced from BLS, June 2018

Degree & Certification Programs

In order to begin a career as a nuclear medicine technologist, students must earn, at a minimum, an associate of applied science (AAS) degree. That said, NMTs may also go on to earn bachelor’s degrees in order to further their career prospects.

Following is a sampling of reputable universities that offer nuclear medicine technology programs:

  • Johns Hopkins University – As the number two ranked school for biomedical fields by U.S. News and World Report (2018), Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland is one of the finest institutions for studying nuclear medicine technology. The 18-month program leads to certification as an NMT and computed tomography (CT) specialist. Students of this program also have some of the most prestigious clinical experiences at hospitals like the Johns Hopkins Hospital and the University of Maryland Medical Center.

  • Oregon Institute of Technology – At the Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls, Oregon, students can pursue a bachelor of science (BS) degree in nuclear medicine technology. The OIT BS is one of the best values in the nation, with in-state tuition coming in at just $9,541 per year, including fees. In addition, graduates from this program have a 100 percent pass rate for both the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (AART) and Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB) board exams.

  • University of Iowa – Located in Iowa City, Iowa, the University of Iowa has a stellar reputation for offering students the best technology and training in the medical field. This four-year NMT program is helpful for students, as it requires them to complete the majority of another degree before being accepted. This means that, upon graduation, graduates are potentially eligible for two fields of employment instead of one.

  • Vanderbilt University – Located in Nashville, Tennessee, Vanderbilt is continually ranked as one of the best in the U.S. and the world. In fact, US News and World Report (2018) ranks Vanderbilt as the 14th best university in the country. This 12-month program is highly intensive and prepares students to be nationally certified. For this school, the exam pass rates for AART and NMTCB certification are 80 percent and 88 percent respectively, the graduation rate is 95 percent, and 57 percent of graduates between 2012 and 2016 found jobs within six months of graduation.

List of Nuclear Medicine Technologist Schools

Filter by state :
School City State Website grads (2018)
Houston Community College Houston Texas www.hccs.edu 26
Hillsborough Community College Tampa Florida www.hccfl.edu 25
Robert Morris University Moon Township Pennsylvania www.rmu.edu 19
Community College of Allegheny County Pittsburgh Pennsylvania www.ccac.edu 18
Indiana University of Pennsylvania-Main Campus Indiana Pennsylvania www.iup.edu 17
Amarillo College Amarillo Texas www.actx.edu 16
GateWay Community College Phoenix Arizona www.gatewaycc.edu 15
Molloy College Rockville Centre New York www.molloy.edu 15
Triton College River Grove Illinois www.triton.edu 15
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse La Crosse Wisconsin www.uwlax.edu 15
The University of Findlay Findlay Ohio www.findlay.edu 14
Oregon Institute of Technology Klamath Falls Oregon www.oit.edu 13
University of Nevada-Las Vegas Las Vegas Nevada www.unlv.edu 13
Cuyahoga Community College District Cleveland Ohio www.tri-c.edu 12
Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences Lancaster Pennsylvania www.pacollege.edu 12
Pitt Community College Winterville North Carolina www.pittcc.edu 12
University of Cincinnati-Main Campus Cincinnati Ohio www.uc.edu 12
AdventHealth University Orlando Florida www.ahu.edu 11
Old Dominion University Norfolk Virginia www.odu.edu 10
Bellevue College Bellevue Washington bellevuecollege.edu 9
Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale Florida www.keiseruniversity.edu 9
University at Buffalo Buffalo New York www.buffalo.edu 9
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Little Rock Arkansas www.uams.edu 9
Weber State University Ogden Utah www.weber.edu 9
Broward College Fort Lauderdale Florida www.broward.edu 8
College of DuPage Glen Ellyn Illinois www.cod.edu 8
Frederick Community College Frederick Maryland www.frederick.edu 8
Midlands Technical College West Columbia South Carolina www.midlandstech.edu 8
Saint Louis University Saint Louis Missouri www.slu.edu 8
Miami Dade College Miami Florida www.mdc.edu 7
Delgado Community College New Orleans Louisiana www.dcc.edu 7
Galveston College Galveston Texas www.gc.edu 7
Gateway Community College New Haven Connecticut www.gatewayct.edu 7
Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis Indianapolis Indiana www.iupui.edu 7
Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science Rochester Minnesota college.mayo.edu 7
University of Puerto Rico-Medical Sciences San Juan Puerto Rico www.rcm.upr.edu 7
Baptist Health College Little Rock Little Rock Arkansas www.bhclr.edu 6
Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute Hudson North Carolina www.cccti.edu 6
Manhattan College Riverdale New York www.manhattan.edu 6
University of Iowa Iowa City Iowa www.uiowa.edu 6
University of Mississippi University Mississippi www.olemiss.edu 6
University of Oklahoma-Health Sciences Center Oklahoma City Oklahoma ouhsc.edu 6
University of the Incarnate Word San Antonio Texas www.uiw.edu 6
Universidad Central Del Caribe Bayamon Puerto Rico www.uccaribe.edu 5
Forsyth Technical Community College Winston-Salem North Carolina www.forsythtech.edu 5
Prince George's Community College Largo Maryland www.pgcc.edu 5
Rowan College at Gloucester County Sewell New Jersey www.rcgc.edu 5
University of Cincinnati-Blue Ash College Blue Ash Ohio www.ucblueash.edu 5
Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences Memphis Tennessee www.bchs.edu 4
Oakland University Rochester Hills Michigan www.oakland.edu 4
Rhode Island College Providence Rhode Island www.ric.edu 4
Southeast Technical Institute Sioux Falls South Dakota www.southeasttech.edu 4
University of Alabama at Birmingham Birmingham Alabama www.uab.edu 4
University of Kansas Lawrence Kansas ku.edu 4
York College of Pennsylvania York Pennsylvania www.ycp.edu 4
Cedar Crest College Allentown Pennsylvania www.cedarcrest.edu 3
Columbia State Community College Columbia Tennessee www.columbiastate.edu 3
Delaware Technical Community College-Terry Dover Delaware www.dtcc.edu 3
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania Edinboro Pennsylvania www.edinboro.edu 3
Rutgers University-New Brunswick New Brunswick New Jersey newbrunswick.rutgers.edu 3
Saint Cloud State University Saint Cloud Minnesota www.stcloudstate.edu 3
Loma Linda University Loma Linda California home.llu.edu 2
Allen College Waterloo Iowa www.allencollege.edu 2
MCPHS University Boston Massachusetts www.mcphs.edu 2
Oakland Community College Bloomfield Hills Michigan www.oaklandcc.edu 2
University of Central Arkansas Conway Arkansas www.uca.edu 2
West Virginia University Hospital Departments of Rad Tech and Nutrition Morgantown West Virginia www.wvuhradtech.com 2
Gulf Coast State College Panama City Florida www.gulfcoast.edu 1
Del Mar College Corpus Christi Texas www.delmar.edu 1
Harrisburg Area Community College Harrisburg Pennsylvania www.hacc.edu 1
Henderson State University Arkadelphia Arkansas www.hsu.edu 1
Maine College of Health Professions Lewiston Maine www.mchp.edu 1
Mount Aloysius College Cresson Pennsylvania www.mtaloy.edu 1
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota Winona Minnesota www.smumn.edu 1
Salem State University Salem Massachusetts www.salemstate.edu 1
2017-2018 School Data from IPEDS (Sourced in November, 2019)

Hybrid & Online programs

The George Washington University
Online Healthcare MBA
HealthInformatics@GW - The George Washington University
Online Master's - Health Informatics
Johns Hopkins University
MS - Healthcare Mgmt (Online, On-Site, or Both)
*sponsored

While there are no entry-level nuclear technologist programs that can be completed entirely online due to the essentially clinical nature of the discipline, there are some options available for students seeking the flexibility and convenience of an online program. Following is a selection of these online programs: 

  • Loma Linda University – Located in Loma Linda, California, Loma Linda University offers a hybrid bachelor of science in nuclear medicine technology. The program is expected to take students between 24 and 27 months to complete. Of the 126 credits required to complete the program, 26 credits are offered in the form of online classes while the rest require on-campus attendance. The LLU program has been accredited by the JRCNMT and has also been approved by the California Department of Public Health, Radiologic Health Branch.

  • Lakeshore Technical College – Located in Cleveland, Wisconsin, Lakeshore Technical College (LTC) offers an associate’s degree in nuclear technology for which courses can be completed online. It is important to note that this program is not specific to nuclear medicine and rather provides an overview for working with nuclear materials in many settings. This online program could be used as a stepping stone to a nuclear medicine program for those that want to pursue that career. This program will not make graduates eligible for certification.

Because there is so much material including heavy clinical training involved in nuclear medicine technology training, it is impossible to offer a program entirely online. However, more programs than those listed above may have some flexibility in terms of classroom work that can be completed via distance learning.

Be sure to check program websites and course catalogues to see which schools qualify.

 

School City State Website grads (2018)
Ferris State University Big Rapids Michigan www.ferris.edu 14
Pitt Community College Winterville North Carolina www.pittcc.edu 12
Augusta University Augusta Georgia www.augusta.edu 7
Santa Fe College Gainesville Florida www.sfcollege.edu 6
University of Mississippi University Mississippi www.olemiss.edu 6
Chattanooga State Community College Chattanooga Tennessee www.chattanoogastate.edu 5
2017-2018 School Data from IPEDS (Sourced in November, 2019)

Core & Elective Courses

While course requirements may vary from school to school, most nuclear medicine technology (NMT) degree programs have the same basic structure. Some programs, such as the one at the Mayo Clinic, require students to have completed a bachelor of science degree prior to enrolling, which will mean completing basic courses such as chemistry as a prerequisite. For others, core courses such as biology, chemistry, and a math component will be included in the program. In a BS program, students may also be able to choose elective courses in a broad range of subjects in addition the the nuclear medicine requirements.

Here is an overview of the typical course structure of an accredited NMT program:

  • Positron Emission Tomography – This course covers all elements of PET, including tomography composition, scintillation crystallization, and time-of-flight imaging. Students are also taught how to use PET imaging agents and data analytics.
  • Nuclear chemistry and physics – Students learn why certain nuclides are radioactive, and discuss radiation interactions and decay models. They also discover the crucial differences between nuclear and physiological imaging.
  • Radiopharmacy – In this course, students identify the most common nuclear medicine pharmaceuticals and how they interact with patients, in addition to how to prepare and dose these medicines.
  • Radiation biology – Students explore how to identify safe and unsafe levels of radiation, as well as symptoms of radiation exposure. Courses may also discuss how cells respond to radiation and how to protect patients from overexposure.
  • Clinical procedures – In this class, students get a strong background in the various purposes and processes of radiation imaging. Clinical procedures covered generally include hematology, immunology, blood volume determination, bone densitometry, and nuclear neurology.
  • Clinical Internship/Practicum – Students work under a board-certified radiologist to complete the clinical requirement: 1,300 supervised hours. Twenty competencies are required, including cystogram, ductogram, tube injections, and barium enema. It is during this portion of the degree program that students can choose elective courses to specialize in health information management or pre-medical studies.

Accreditation

All nuclear medicine degree programs are generally approved through the Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology (JRCNMT). The JRCNMT is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) as the only organization qualified to evaluate nuclear medicine programs.

The JRCNMT provides a thorough evaluation of each college that it endorses, including several onsite visits, a curriculum review, and educator interviews. Representatives from the major radiologic fields—American College of Radiology (ACR), the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT), the Association of Educators in Imaging and Radiologic Sciences (AEIRS), Association of Medical Imaging Management (AHRA), and the American Association of Medical Dosimetrists (AAMD)—also may independently evaluate the college’s program to ensure it meets national standards.

Career Outlook

Although this is a high-paying job in a growing field, the number of positions that will be created between 2016 and 2026 is only around 2,000, according to the BLS (2017). Still, that same organization projects that growth in this field will continue to increase by 10 percent, which is somewhat faster than the national average. As the baby boomer population ages over the next decade, this will lead to an increasing need in these types of diagnostic services. However, the demand for CT, PET, or NCT imaging tests is still not high enough to propel the type of job creation as in other fields of medicine.

While job creation will be limited, pay for these jobs can be very competitive, with the lowest earners making over $54,000 per year and the highest earners making over $100,000 (BLS 2017). There are currently nearly 19,000 people employed as nuclear medicine technologists, with the majority of them employed in general medical and surgical hospitals as well as physician offices. States with the highest numbers of nuclear medicine technologists include Florida, California, Texas, New York, and Ohio.

As with other medical professions, education plays a major role in how easy it is to land one of these hard-to-find nuclear medicine technology jobs. Students who only have an associate degree may find it difficult to compete with those who have gone on to gain additional certification. Specialty certifications like positron emission technology (PET) and nuclear cardiology (NCT) can increase the likelihood of employment and higher salary (BLS 2017).

Career Facts Nuclear Medicine Technologist
Related CareersDiagnostic Medical Sonographer, MRI Technologist, Neurodiagnostic Technologist, Radiation Therapist, Radiologic Technologist, Surgical Technologist
Common Job TitlesNuclear Medicine Technologist (NMT)
Technology & EquipmentRadiation Detectors, Liquid Scintillation Counters, CT or CAT Callibration Devices, Medical Radiation Dosimeters
Sourced from BLS, June 2018

Licensing & Certification

Only those certified by the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB) can become professional nuclear medicine technologists. Many state-level licensure bodies, such as the California Department of Public Health Radiologic Health Branch, require a passing score as a key element of the certification process. In addition, some states require an additional state-level exam to meet certification standards.

In addition to the NMTCB exam, graduates must have completed a nuclear medicine degree or appropriate coursework at a school endorsed by the Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology (JRCNMT). Job applicants may be required to show their education level in core subjects such as clinical procedures, nuclear instrumentation, and radiation biology.

Finally, it is impossible to be fully licensed as an NMT without significant experience hours. Many colleges provide the required 1,300 hours of clinical experience that will qualify graduates to be certified. Graduates will also be required to produce a letter from their university program director (or supervising radiologist) verifying their experiences with core competencies such as in vitro tests, imaging studies, radioactive administration, and blood withdrawal.