Careers in Nuclear Medicine

What is Nuclear Medicine?

Before you can understand what to expect from a career as a nuclear medicine technologist, you must first understand what nuclear medicine is. The Society of Nuclear Medicine defines nuclear medicine as a way of documenting imaging or organ structure and function, as well as a way of gathering information to make a definitive diagnosis without the use of surgery or more expensive testing.

Nuclear medicine careers involve using radiopharmaceuticals to evoke a particular response from the body and emit a gamma ray,

What may sets nuclear medicine apart from more standard diagnostic testing is that it may detect diseases or conditions based on changes in metabolic function when combined with radiopharmaceuticals. Regular diagnostic testing only has the ability to diagnosis based on the changes in organ structure, which is not always apparent at certain stages of the disease process.

Job Duties and Daily Tasks

Most nuclear medicine careers involve working in a hospital or clinical environment; however, some professionals with large amounts of education and experience sometimes work at the scientific level of discovering new technology and new ways of making nuclear medicine more involved and effective.

Nuclear medicine schools may prepare students for all the basic functions of the job. When beginning your career you may start out working as a nuclear medicine technologist. The daily activities of your job may likely include the following:

  • Operate cameras for photographic imaging
  • Explaining procedures and risks of procedures to patients
  • Injecting radiopharmaceuticals into a patient
  • Limit the amount of exposure during imaging to both staff and patients
  • Create and document medical records
  • Document which type of radiopharmaceutical was used and at what amount
  • Safely discard excessive amounts of radiopharmaceuticals
  • Collect medical history background information on each patient
  • Intervene with CPR when a life-or-death situation arises

As you can see, your job may require a lot from you on a daily basis. You will not only be responsible for understanding and employing the physics of nuclear medicine, but you may also be responsible for attending to patient care and being able to determine any medical history factors which might alter the outcome of a particular procedure.

Laboratory Nuclear Medicine

Some nuclear medicine technologists decide after working initially with patient care and imaging that would enjoy the challenge of actually making laboratory diagnoses by mixing received specimens with radiopharmaceuticals. There is no extra nuclear medicine degree required for a position of this nature but you will most definitely need experience in the field before you will be able to advance to this level.

Specialties of Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear medicine technologists also have the option of specializing in a particular area, including nuclear cardiology and positron emission tomography (PET) scanning. Both of these specialties would be positions that could be obtained with additional education and training, such as a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree.

Nuclear cardiology stills employs the usage of radiopharmaceuticals, however it works by having a patient exercise at the time of administration and imaging so that an accurate account of the blood flow in the heart can be evaluated.

PET scanning, on the other hand, uses special equipment to produce a three-dimensional image of the body. This image can then be used to view the internal body and makes a definitive diagnosis in 96% of all cases.

Advancement in the Field

This profession holds a lot of room for individual and professional growth. There is no reason to feel that once you obtain your degree and begin working as a nuclear medicine technologist that you are limited to that position indefinitely. In fact, a good majority of technologists go on to become chief technologists, or supervisors; specialists; or institutional instructors of nuclear medicine.

Your ticket to advancement in this field will be furthering your education. If you begin by obtaining an associate’s-level nuclear medicine degree and go on to work on a bachelor’s or master’s degree, your combination of education and experience in the field will create a direct route for career advancement.


The Bureau of Labor and Statistics,

The Michener Institute,

The Society of Nuclear Medicine,

Nuclear Medicine Schools

Refine School Matches
Hide filters

    See More


    See More



    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Matching School Ads
            3 Program(s) Found
            • Designated as a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media
            • Students who qualify may earn credits from relevant work, military service training, or life experience through Credit by Examination Program (CLEP)
            • Offers 5 term start dates throughout the year
            • Class sizes are small, with an average 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Council or Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS)
            1 Program(s) Found
            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Lets undergrad students try classes before paying any tuition.
            • Has an average class sizes of 18 for undergraduate and 13 for graduate-level courses.
            • Offers numerous scholarship opportunities that can help students save up to $750 per term on their tuition.
            • Tends to educate degree-seeking online and campus-based students who are adult learners with families and students who work while pursuing higher education.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            • Financial Aid
            1 Program(s) Found
            Get allied health training with Ross Medical Education Center. We offer programs in dental assisting, medical assisting, medical insurance billing and office administration, and pharmacy tech.
            • Financial Aid
            1 Program(s) Found
            Remington College , Fort Worth
            • Dallas campus named 2013 School of the Year by the National Association for Health Professionals (NAHP).
            • Tuition covers course-required materials for campus students, including books, lab equipment, and class supplies.
            • Offers flat tuition rate to continuously enrolled students who are on track toward program completion.
            • Campus accreditation by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • 18 campuses across the United States, with online options as well.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            1 Program(s) Found
            • Students who qualify may apply for the Opportunity Scholarship, which can help lower education costs.
            • Offers career-focused, degree programs to over 70,000 students at over 140 ITT Technical Institutes in 35 states.
            • Classes are offered year-round, with day and evening course options.
            • Online courses can be accessed from anywhere, 24 hours a day.
            • Nationally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools.
            Show more [+]
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits