How much does a radiologist make? With an average income of nearly $350,000 a year, radiology retains its spot among the three highest paid medical specialties, according to this year’s annual Medscape Physician Compensation Report. Radiologists commonly have a busy work week, often exceeding 40 hours. On-call and night shifts may be required.
A radiologist salary is even higher for those who choose a sub specialty like radiation oncology or ultrasonography. Gender also has a large influence on pay. Medscape’s latest radiologist salary data suggests that male radiologists make 16.5 percent more than their female counterparts.
Top Paying Industries
|Industry||Employment||% of industry employment||Hourly mean wage||Annual mean salary|
|Oil and Gas Extraction||19,880||10.95||$77.43||$161,050|
|Scientific Research and Development||500||.08||$70.09||$145,780|
|Machinery, Equipment, and Supplies merchant Wholesalers||40||.01||$69.49||$144,540|
Top Paying States
|State||Hourly mean Wage||Annual mean salary||# Employed||Employment/1000 jobs|
Radiologist Job Description
A radiologist is a Medical Doctor (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.) who specializes in the use of medical imaging technology and radioactivity to diagnose and treat illnesses. Radiologists are among the few doctors that have relatively little contact with patients; their work is notably focused on the technological aspects of medical care, so they are responsible for keeping up-to-date with rapid advances.
The therapeutic use of radiation for medical treatments has a long history. Ionizing radiation is dangerous, but it is also a powerful way to kill diseased cells, as can be seen in today’s use of radiation to treat certain cancers. A radiologist’s tools include X-rays, computerized axial tomography (CAT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and sound wave-based ultrasound equipment.
Radiologists are responsible for:
- Obtaining quality medical images with a technologist’s help
- Reading and analyzing images to make diagnoses
- Recording imaging data and patient records
- Communicating with other physicians
- Delivering radiation therapy as part of a treatment plan
- Prescribing medications and consulting with patients
How To Become A Radiologist
Becoming a radiologist requires the completion of an undergraduate education, medical school, a year of internship, and four years of clinical residency. For those intending to practice a sub specialty like neuroradiology or pediatric radiology, the residency is followed by a few years of specialized fellowship training.
The professional certification process begins during one’s residency and ends more than a year after its completion. Those seeking further subspecialty certification must pass another set of board exams after finishing their fellowship. Radiologists also need to earn a state-based license before they can legally practice.
How Long Does It Take To Become A Radiologist?
It takes at least 13 years of postsecondary education and clinical training to become a diagnostic radiologist. That includes a 4-year bachelor education, 4 years of medical school, a year-long internship, and 4 years of residency. Subspecialists may spend an additional year or two in a targeted fellowship for a total of 14-15 years in training.
In the United States, aspiring physicians must complete four years of undergraduate education and four years of medical school, and radiologists are no exception. Typically, at the undergraduate level, students pursue a general pre-med curriculum. This means taking courses in general and organic chemistry, biology, physics, calculus, statistics, as well as some humanities.
Students who plan to go directly to medical school after earning their bachelor’s degree should apply to their preferred programs by the end of junior year and take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) by the end of the summer before senior year. It is recommended that undergraduates take a full-time load to be competitive in medical school admissions.
Radiologists seek national certification with the American Board of Radiology (ABR). They may become ABR-certified in radiation oncology, medical physics, diagnostic radiology, or one of the latter’s subspecialties. Alternatively, radiologists may seek certification with the American Osteopathic Board of Radiology (AOBR) or American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS).
To become certified with the ABR as a basic diagnostic radiologist, physicians must complete the initial certification process while they are “board eligible”—within six years of completing training. The process includes one mid-residency ‘Core’ exam and one post-residency Certifying Exam.
State licensure is mandatory for all radiologists. Medical doctor (M.D.) licensing in the U.S. is standardized across all states and territories based on the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE). For D.O.s, the corresponding licensure exam is called the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX).
One to three years of postgraduate residency training is necessary to obtain a state medical license. Keep in mind that many states limit the number of times national qualifying exams can be taken. Every state has its own specific guidelines, so be sure to check with the relevant agency regularly to keep abreast of updates.
The employment outlook for radiologists is bright. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says demand for all physicians, including radiologists, will grow 24 percent through 2020. Although radiologists have seen Medicare cuts and outsourcing in recent years, demand remains high and the aging of the American population should sustain job growth at least through the end of the decade. Detailed Radiologist salary data is available here.
States With Highest Employment Levels
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