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Certification vs. Registration: What’s the Difference?

The distinctions between ARRT certification and registration are many — ranging from duration to documentation, and with differing requirements for education, ethics, and examination. See the table below for comparisons.

First Comes Certification

Certification is the process of initially recognizing individuals who have satisfied certain standards within a profession. A person is certified by ARRT after meeting educational requirements (such as graduating from an approved educational program or completing clinical experience requirements), complying with ethics standards, and passing a certification exam.

Then Comes Annual Renewal of Registration

Annual renewal of registration is the procedure required to maintain registration of the certificate. ARRT annually registers the certificates of individuals who meet the following criteria: agreeing to comply with the ARRT Rules and Regulations, continuing to comply with the ARRT Standards of Ethics, and meeting the Continuing Education Requirements.

Any certifications earned in any discipline beginning January 1, 2011, are time limited to 10 years, at which time R.T.s will need to demonstrate continuing qualifications as part of the Continuing Qualifications Requirements (CQR).

Only technologists who are currently registered — which means that they have renewed within the past year — may designate themselves as ARRT Registered Technologists and use the R.T. credential (R.T.(*)(ARRT) after their names. The radiologist assistant certificate confers upon the individual the right to use the title "Registered Radiologist Assistant" and its abbreviation "R.R.A.(ARRT)" in connection with his or her name so long as the registration of the certificate is in effect.

*Individuals should also use the following initials to indicate the specific discipline or disciplines for which registration is held. The discipline designation should be listed between the "R.T." and the "(ARRT)" as:

(R) for radiography
(N) for nuclear medicine technology
(T) for radiation therapy
(MR) for magnetic resonance imaging
(S) for sonography
(M) for mammography
(CT) for computed tomography
(QM) for quality management
(BD) for bone densitometry
(CI) for cardiac-interventional radiography
(VI) for vascular-interventional radiography
(CV) for cardiovascular-interventional radiography — no longer open to new candidates
(VS) for vascular sonography
(BS) for breast sonography

Employer and State Agency Requirements Differ, Too

Some employers and state agencies may require ARRT certification, but not necessarily current registration. Unless they require current registration by ARRT, they cannot assume that the person has recently complied with the ethics or continuing education requirements. Current registration can help ensure the knowledge, skills, and ethics qualifications of a technologist.

  Certification Registration
Timing Initial Annual renewal
Meaning Individual has satisfied education, ethics, and exam standards Individual has satisfied standards for initial certification and for continued registration
Education Graduates from approved educational program or completes clinical experience requirements Meets continuing education requirements
Ethics Meets ARRT Standards of Ethics at time of initial certification Meets and agrees to comply with ARRT Standards of Ethics
Examination Passes certification exam No exam required
Fee Payment of certification application fees Annual payment of renewal fee

Permanent or time-limited unless  revoked by ARRT

Renewable each year
Documentation Certificate Current credential card
Metaphor One is "certified" to drive a car after passing a driver's test One must periodically renew one's driver's license to be "registered" to drive a car
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