Becoming a Radiologist: Salary Info & Job Description

About this article
What are the pros and cons of a career as a radiologist? Get real job descriptions, career outlook and salary information to decide if a career as a radiologist is right for you.
View available schools

The Pros and Cons of a Radiologist Career

Radiologists are physicians who review and interpret the results of diagnostic imaging procedures, and they also deliver radiation treatments to patients with cancer and other illnesses. To learn more about the pros and cons of a career as a radiologist, just keep reading.

Pros of a Radiologist Career
Faster than average job growth (18% from 2012-2022)*
Good compensation (median annual salary of about $276,656)**
Job location flexibility*
Results-oriented nature of work***

Cons of a Radiologist Career
Extensive and very expensive educational requirements*
Potential for high amounts of stress***
Threat of exposure to disease or infections***

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com, ***O Net Online.

Essential Career Information

Basic Duties

Along with the primary responsibilities of reviewing and interpreting the results of diagnostic imaging procedures, the work of a radiologist can involve taking patients' medical histories, providing counseling to radiologic patients and evaluating the risk factors of certain procedures. Working as a radiologist might also require you to administer radiation-based treatments to patients with cancer and other serious illnesses. Communicating with other physicians is another key responsibility of radiologists, since radiologists must make sure to relate accurate information regarding treatments and diagnoses.

You'll need to utilize the latest technology in your work as a radiologist, both in reviewing images and preparing reports of your findings. You might work with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) systems, computed tomography (CT), positron emission tomography (PET) or ultrasound technology. You'll also use the latest medical records systems to keep accurate and detailed information about your patients and their evaluations.

Salary Information and Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected above-average job growth for all physicians and surgeons, with overall employment expected to increase by 18% from 2012-2022. As of July 2015, PayScale.com reported a median annual salary of $276,656 for radiologists.

Requirements

Extensive and demanding educational requirements exist for becoming a radiologist. Typically, you'll need to earn a bachelor's degree, then graduate from medical school and complete several years of on-the-job training. Internships and residency programs will likely provide you with the hands-on training that you'll need, and this specialized preparation may take 3-5 years. Licensure is also required to become a radiologist, and requirements vary by state. Candidates usually need to graduate from an accredited medical school, complete a residency and pass both written and practical exams to qualify for licensure. You'll also need to pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) or the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX) and earn certification through the American Board of Radiology (ABR).

To become a successful radiologist, you'll need to have good communication skills and a sharp eye for detail. You'll also need to be able to empathize with patients who are facing intensive treatments and difficult recoveries. A good amount of patience is required to work as a radiologist, especially when consulting with other physicians to determine a proper course of treatment.

What Are Employers Looking For?

If you meet the advanced educational and certification standards to become a radiologist, you might find work in a broad range of facilities across the country. Some job postings open as of November 2012 give an idea of the job market for radiologists.

  • A veteran's hospital in Des Moines, IA, looked for a licensed, board-certified radiologist to perform duties in general radiology, fluoroscopy, MRI and ultrasound. The position called for a pre-employment examination but had no experience requirements.
  • A diagnostic imaging company in New Castle, PA, sought a radiologist to work with MRI, CT, X-ray and mammography. All board-certified applicants would be considered for the position.
  • A private healthcare company looked for radiologists with 3-5 years of experience to fill positions in several locations. The position required some travel and called for full medical licensure and board certification. Proficiency in CT, ultrasound, nuclear medicine and MRI was preferred.

Standing Out in the Field

A good way to set yourself apart from other prospective radiologists is to make sure you're adept in working with the latest technologies. As more advanced digital X-ray and mammography devices become available, employers will look for candidates who are comfortable working with emerging technology. Many employers also require experience with a broad array of imaging techniques, so you'll benefit from having expertise in as many methods as possible. Keeping up to date with developments in electronic medical records systems can also help enhance your qualifications.

Alternate Career Options

Becoming a radiation therapist might be a good alternate career option if you're not interested in completing the extensive education required to become a radiologist. Radiation therapists administer radiation treatments and often work in cancer treatment centers. You can attain an entry-level position in radiation therapy with an associate's degree, and licensing is required in most states. The BLS reported a median annual salary of nearly $77,000 for radiation therapists as of May 2011, and overall employment was projected to increase by 20% from 2010-2020.

If you'd like to work on the technical side of diagnostic imaging, you might want to consider a career as a radiologic technologist. These careers involve preparing patients for imaging procedures as well as operating computerized equipment to take the images. Radiologic technologists are also responsible for maintaining and adjusting imaging equipment. An associate's degree is required for entry-level positions, and the BLS reported a median annual salary of about $55,000 for radiologic technicians and technologists as of May 2011. The BLS projected 28% job growth for radiologic technicians and technologists from 2010-2020.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • RN to BSN
      • RN to BSN
    Associate's
      • Associate of Sciences - Medical Assistant
      • Associate of Sciences - Medical Assistant
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership
    Associate's
      • Associate of Science - Medical Assisting Services
      • Associate of Science - Medical Assisting Services
    Certificate
      • Diploma: Medical Assisting
      • Diploma: Medical Assisting
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Management - Health Care Management and Leadership
      • Doctor of Management - Health Care Management and Leadership
    Master's
      • MS - Healthcare Management
      • Master of Science in Management - Healthcare Management
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Business Administration - Health Care Management
  • Online Programs Available
    4. University of the Southwest

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA Healthcare Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    6. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Healthcare Management
      • Master of Business Admin: Healthcare Admin
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Business Admin: Healthcare Management
      • Bachelor of Healthcare Management - HSA Mgt.
      • Bachelor of Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Health and Human Services Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
      • HS Diploma
      • HS Diploma with Focus in Health Care
  • Online Programs Available
    9. American University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Healthcare Management
    Certificate
      • Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
    Master's
      • MBA: Health Systems Management
      • MS in Health Care Administration
      • Master of Public Administration - Health Care Management
    Bachelor's
      • BS in Health Sciences: Professional Development & Advanced Patient Care
      • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science
      • BS in Health Care Administration

Featured Schools

Keiser University

  • RN to BSN
  • Associate of Sciences - Medical Assistant

What is your highest level of education?

Herzing University

  • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership
  • Associate of Science - Medical Assisting Services
  • Diploma: Medical Assisting

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Technical University

  • Doctor of Management - Health Care Management and Leadership
  • MS - Healthcare Management
  • BS - Business Administration - Health Care Management

Are you a US citizen?

University of the Southwest

  • MBA Healthcare Administration

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

  • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration

What is your highest level of education?

American InterContinental University

  • Master of Healthcare Management
  • Master of Business Admin: Healthcare Admin
  • Bachelor of Business Admin: Healthcare Management
  • Bachelor of Healthcare Management - HSA Mgt.

Are you a US citizen?

Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

  • Master of Arts in Health and Human Services Administration

What is your highest level of education completed?

Penn Foster High School

  • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
  • HS Diploma
  • HS Diploma with Focus in Health Care

What is your age?