(Photo Courtesy of Howard Tsujimoto)

(Photo Courtesy of Howard Tsujimoto)

Driven by an ongoing need to treat cancer and other diseases, the number of available job openings for radiation therapists is projected to increase by 24 percent in coming years. This means an estimated 4,500 additional specialists, that are licensed to administer life-saving radiation treatments to patients, will have already found sound employment by 2022.

In Los Angeles, radiation therapy technologists earn an average annual salary of more than $82,000, according to current economic data. It has become a protractible field that will continue to be domineered by jet-set technology.

“Technological advancements will dictate a radiation therapist’s role by 2022 because treatments will become more complex, requiring an aptitude to maintain clinical skills,” said Howard Tsujimoto, a radiation therapist at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center.

Due to an influx of leading-edge technology to control or kill malignant cells and remedy other non-cancerous conditions, like keloid scar growth, top health care centers must make certain their medical experts remain well-versed.

“Kaiser Permanente helps us keep pace by purchasing the latest equipment for cancer care,” said Tsujimoto. “This allows us to have the technical experience to provide the most advanced care.”

How has a therapist’s role progressed since 2010?

“Therapists now need to be well-trained in multiple technical aspects of radiation therapy, including pencil-beam scanning, which delivers a more precise dose of radiation, thereby limiting radiation to surrounding healthy organs.”

How must one plan for a sustainable vocation?

“The best way to prepare for a career as a radiation therapist is to enroll in an accredited educational program, such as the one the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) offers.”

What defines an adept therapist?

“A few key attributes that a successful radiation therapist must possess include: responsibility, efficiency, empathy and attention to detail.”

What is your pointed advice to aspiring therapists? 

“I encourage them to take advantage of the JRCERT website to locate a school in their area and speak with the program director. In some cases, being involved in clinical observation sessions will be beneficial. L.A. provides a wide range of clinical experience for a radiation therapist.”

Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist who covers topics of social interest in greater Los Angeles. Some news articles she has authored have been archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Sharon also contributes to Examiner.com.