Sometimes, these terms are used to describe the same education and licensing. The correct term for a fully licensed x-ray tech is radiologic technologist (RT) or radiographer. A limited license tech is called a technician.
A RT can do any examination which involves radiation. This includes fluoroscopy (esophagrams, barium enemas), arthrograms (evaluation of joints), myelograms (evaluation of the spinal canal), HSGs (evaluation of the fallopian tubes for fertility issues), surgical procedures and portable exams. With additional training and licensing, a RT can do CT scans and mammography.
A limited permit technician can only do certain X-ray exams, such as chest, spine or extremity x-rays. Most limited techs work in orthopedic doctor offices, as a hospital or imaging center wants a fully licensed technologist who can do any imaging study. The education program is shorter than that of a RT, but they are paid less than a RT.
There are many schools in many states where you can get trained to be a radiologic technologist. You can attend a hospital based program (and earn a certificate), a 2 year college program (AS degree), and even a 4 year college program (BS degree). The hospital based programs are the least expensive, and honestly, I think the education received there is superior. Once you graduate and take your registry exam, no future employer is going to care what type of educational program you went through. All they care about is your license. You can find an accredited RT program at this site. Just search "radiography" and your state...links are provided which will give you additional information on each program (cost, duration of program, contact person):
Most RTs will also become proficient and licensed in other modalities, such as mammography, CT and/or MRI. The more licenses you have, the more money you can make, as you will be in higher demand. With additional schooling, you can also do ultrasound.
I work in a free standing imaging center. My office is only open M-F, 8:00-5:00. No weekends, nights or call work. In a hospital, most imaging departments are staffed 24 hours a day. You could be scheduled to work nights, PM shifts, weekends, holidays....anytime really!
I highly recommend you do an observation in both a hospital imaging department and a free standing imaging facility. Until you see what RTs do, you won't know if it is the job for you! It would also give you a wonderful opportunity to talk to RTs in your area. Best wishes.....
Oh, another good resource....check out the student area of the ASRT website:
The American Society of Radiologic Technologists just did a large salary survey. The salary varies, depending on your experience, specialties and geographical area. For example, the annual income of a RT in Alabama was $43,196. With additional training, and licensing in MRI scanning, the salary is $51,174. In California, the average RT salary is $71,063. With MRI licensing, it is $83,185. To view, the survey, and see the average salary in your state, you can go to this link: