Anthem Education Group

History of the X-ray Technician Career

The earliest x-ray was discovered not by a physician, but by a German physics professor in 1895. Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen was studying cathode tubes when he discovered a way to make transparent film images. The first “Roentgen Ray” illuminated the bones in his wife’s hand. (, 2010.)

Roentgen’s discovery made him a celebrity, and he was award the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901 among numerous other awards and honorary doctorates.

Initially, the new technology was used for entertainment purposes. People were interested in seeing “pictures” of their bones and within months, it became a popular offshoot of photography studios. Physicians, however, quickly saw a medical benefit in using the technology to diagnose and treat injuries and even disease. (ASRT, 2010.)

Initially, physicians took the x-rays (so named by Roentgen himself because of their mysterious nature) themselves. They eventually started teaching their staff, usually women who were nurses and receptionists, to assume these responsibilities. Because the dangers of radiation exposure were unacknowledged until about 1915, the early mortality rates among these assistants were alarmingly high. (ASRT, 2010.)

According to the American Society of Radiologic Technicians (ASRT), “the plight of the undereducated, overworked X-ray technician was largely ignored until the 1920s, when the persistent work of one man — Eddy C. Jerman — finally brought education, organization and legitimacy to the x-ray technician.” (ASRT, 2010.)

Ed Jerman worked in the medical supply field. He invented a kind of generator in the 1890s that powered electrical devices used by physicians and started his own company in Kansas.  In 1916, he began training personnel in the safe and proper use of electronic medical equipment, particularly x-ray machines. General Electric’s medical division, the Victor X-ray Corporation, hired Jerman to train demonstrators and other persons to train x-ray technicians. (Kansas Historical Society, 2010.)

In 1920, Jerman and 13 x-ray technicians (of whom half were women, who continued to dominate the field) established the American Association of Radiological Technicians to “[afford] technicians an opportunity for the interchange of thoughts and ideas concerned with radiologic technique.”

The organization, which eventually became ASRT, worked throughout the 1960s and 1970s to persuade the federal government to establish standards for x-ray technicians that would protect patients and technicians alike. Legislation to promote this goal was finally signed in 1981. ASRT successfully defended challenges to the federal standards in 1985. (ASRT, 2010.)

Train for a career as a limited scope x-ray technician/basic x-ray machine operator/practical technologist in radiology. Programs are offered at several Florida Career College locations. Not all programs are offered at all locations. Visit our Web site to learn more or call 866-502-2627.

For more information about our graduation rates, the median debt of students who completed the program, and other important information, please visit our website at

“Ed C. Jerman.” Kansapedia. Kansas Historical Society, 2010. Web. 16 Nov. 2010.

“History of the American Society of Radiologic Technologists.” ASRT. American Society of Radiologic Technologists, 2010. Web. 16 Nov. 2010.

“Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen – Biography.” Nobel Foundation, 2010. Web. 16 Nov. 2010.

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