When I graduated from XRAY school I didn't walk on stage and get a diploma. I was in a large dingy meeting room with my other 8 classmates. We were in a hospital in downtown Baltimore. Although this sounds less prestigious it was a great opportunity. I trained in a hospital for 2 years vs. spending the majority of that 2 years in a classroom like my college based cohorts. Did one of us get a grander experience? Who knows. One thing I do know is that radiology schooling has changed a lot since I dawned my RT(R)
First of all hospital based programs are all but gone. I can vouch for my city of Baltimore that, apart from Hopkins, they are all laid to rest. But consider that 15 years ago the majority of large hospitals did have training programs. You had the option of going through one of these hospital programs for 2 years or to a college for 2 years. Either would make you eligible to take the boards and get your RT. The job opportunities were the same and pay was the same no matter the route you chose.
In today's world things work a little different. As I mentioned before hospital programs are all but gone. Additionally it takes about a year or more to acquire the number the prerequisite credits you need to enter a 2 year college based radiology program. By the time its said and done you might as well have completed a bachelors degree in radiology.
If you graduated anytime in the past few years you know that the job market is tight and competition is high. If every local college is turning out 30 students per class every year there are surely not enough jobs to soak up those new grads. When I graduated every one of our classmates had a job before they even completed the program.
If you choose to enter a radiology program now you better make sure you have a leg up on the competition to get a job. Leap head first into a bachelors degree rather than spend 3 years getting your associates in radiologic technology and going another 2 years somewhere else to finish up your degree. You will stand out from your 2 year counterparts. That was a bungle with hospital based programs; although the actual radiology schooling was the same most 4 year colleges didn't accept hospital based radiology credits. This put a wrench in my pursuit of a degree when I got out of school. If you are looking to springboard into leadership roles or go on to be an advanced practitioner, like a physicians assistant, a bachelors is extremely helpful.
Another shinny coin would be to take advantage of many 4 year college's advanced imaging programs. Many offer the last semester as an option to pursue MRI or CT. If its between you and a similarly qualified candidate an employer will always take the candidate who can do more for the company.
Additionally it is helpful to work at an imaging facility part time as a tech aid or such while you are in school. Imaging companies and hospitals will hire someone that already understands the radiology department before a fresh grad with no real radiology work experience.
Make sure you hedge your bets and put your best foot forward with you career choices if you move toward imaging. Think smart, work hard and earn your spot in the growing field of Radiology!