How to Become a Radiologist

What Does a Radiologist Do?

radiologist and CT scan results

Radiologists are specialist physicians who utilize a wide array of advanced techniques in medical imaging to diagnose and, in certain cases, treat patients with all types of illness. These imaging modalities include X-rays, ultrasound, CT, and MRI examinations. Like all physicians, radiologists have completed medical school and have obtained their MD degrees.

To help patients and their primary care doctors arrive at the correct diagnosis in a timely fashion, radiologists correlate patient medical histories, physical exam findings, and laboratory values with their own interpretations of imaging exams. A growing subset of these specialists called interventional radiologists performs surgical procedures under imaging guidance in order to minimize damage to healthy tissue. The training to become a radiologist is long, competitive, and intense, but the payoff of helping hundreds of patients every week makes the journey well worth it.

While early radiologists had only film radiographs (“X-rays”) to work with, modern professionals have a variety of tools at their disposal.

Radiologists use a variety of imaging techniques, including:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Positron emission tomography (PET)
  • Nuclear imaging

Radiologists generally work behind the scenes analyzing studies, making diagnoses and consulting with physicians. In some cases, they get involved in the procedure in order to help prepare the patient or outline further instructions to the technician.

Interventional radiologists take imaging technology a step further by using it to treat certain diseases and conditions. These professionals create electronic maps to guide their instruments as they insert catheters, remove malignant tissue and perform other delicate procedures. This gentle approach allows patients to recover faster and with fewer complications.

If you thrive on intellectual stimulation, you may find radiology an especially rewarding area of practice. Given the constant state of flux and continued innovation in radiology, there is always something new and exciting to learn. These specialists are among the first to pilot cutting-edge imaging technologies and procedures developed in clinical and translational research laboratories. Radiologists also enjoy the challenge of interpreting complex studies and putting together medical clues to arrive at an accurate diagnosis, ultimately at the benefit of the patient.

Workplace Details

Though most radiologists still work in hospitals and outpatient diagnostic centers, advances in digital technology now allow imaging studies to be transmitted electronically. This practice, which is known as teleradiology, means radiologists can now practice in any location equipped with a computer, high-resolution monitor and Internet connectivity. Teleradiology helps emergency departments and intensive care units obtain emergency consultations after hours. Teleradiology also promotes consultation among experts around the globe.

Unlike most other physicians, radiologists have limited patient contact. In fact, some go weeks without a face-to-face consultation. Instead, these specialists spend their time analyzing image results and formulating diagnoses.

Radiologists who work in the hospital work long, irregular shifts that include nights, weekends and holidays. Those employed by outpatient centers are more likely to work regular business hours. However, depending on the specifics of a given radiologist’s employment contract, overall hours worked and length of vacation are often balanced against the amount of compensation.

Salary and Job Outlook

State
Average Wage
New York
$177330
California
$201790
Florida
$219010
Texas
$207750
Pennsylvania
$197250

Hover over any state to explore local income and job growth data.

Created with Raphaël 2.1.0 AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE DC FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY

ALABAMA
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $117,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 21%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 220

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Birmingham$158,980Over $187,200Over $187,200
Huntsville$156,350Over $187,200Over $187,200

ALASKA
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $53,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Anchorage$52,370$163,440Over $187,200

ARIZONA
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $73,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 18%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 230

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Phoenix$60,600Over $187,200Over $187,200
Tuscon$129,080Over $187,200Over $187,200

ARKANSAS
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $48,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 120

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Little Rock$46,260$78,120Over $187,200
Fort Smith$85,250Over $187,200Over $187,200

CALIFORNIA
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $58,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 20%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,120

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Los Angeles$87,480Over $187,200Over $187,200
San Francisco Bay$59,510Over $187,200Over $187,200
San Diego$98,080Over $187,200Over $187,200
Sacramento$129,880Over $187,200Over $187,200

COLORADO
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $101,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 25%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 130

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Denver$97,350Over $187,200Over $187,200
Colorado Springs$96,310Over $187,200Over $187,200

CONNECTICUT
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $59,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 270

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Hartford$55,840Over $187,200Over $187,200
Bridgeport$59,120Over $187,200Over $187,200
New Haven$71,070Over $187,200Over $187,200

DELAWARE
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $58,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 60

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wilmington$56,810Over $187,200Over $187,200
Dover$95,220Over $187,200Over $187,200

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Median Salary: 
$168,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $56,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 80

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Washington DC$70,350$174,880Over $187,200

FLORIDA
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $49,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 28%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,030

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Miami$53,920Over $187,200Over $187,200
Orlando$130,920Over $187,200Over $187,200
Tampa$47,580Over $187,200Over $187,200
Jacksonville$43,140$124,870Over $187,200

GEORGIA
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $92,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 33%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 770

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Atlanta$140,960Over $187,200Over $187,200
Augusta$45,100$88,300Over $187,200

HAWAII
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $76,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 6%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Honolulu$67,970Over $187,200Over $187,200

IDAHO
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $92,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

Job Growth Data Not Available

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boise$62,640Over $187,200Over $187,200
Idaho Falls$118,280Over $187,200Over $187,200

ILLINOIS
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $52,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 570

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Chicago$50,030$177,170Over $187,200
Rockford$61,820$174,500Over $187,200

INDIANA
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $112,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 19%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 420

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Indianapolis$95,880Over $187,200Over $187,200
South Bend$68,610Over $187,200Over $187,200
Fort Wayne$132,920Over $187,200Over $187,200

IOWA
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $101,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 100

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Des Moines$69,780Over $187,200Over $187,200
Cedar Rapids$115,170$181,940Over $187,200

KANSAS
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $46,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 140

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wichita$146,690Over $187,200Over $187,200
Kansas City$45,950Over $187,200Over $187,200

KENTUCKY
Median Salary: 
$183,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $52,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 23%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 270

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Louisville$54,790$131,970Over $187,200

LOUISIANA
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $103,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 210

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New Orleans$135,540$185,360Over $187,200
Baton Rouge$157,080Over $187,200Over $187,200
Lafayette$85,520$121,150Over $187,200

MAINE
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $58,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$54,360Over $187,200Over $187,200
Lewiston$166,570Over $187,200Over $187,200

MARYLAND
Median Salary: 
$173,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $83,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 430

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Baltimore$60,040Over $187,200Over $187,200
Frederick$84,080$132,830Over $187,200

MASSACHUSETTS
Median Salary: 
$169,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $55,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 7%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 370

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boston$54,360$79,440Over $187,200
Worcester$54,050$178,540Over $187,200
Springfield$55,170$155,220Over $187,200

MICHIGAN
Median Salary: 
$176,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $52,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 440

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Detroit$48,730$162,580Over $187,200
Grand Rapids$109,540Over $187,200Over $187,200

MINNESOTA
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $137,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 160

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Minneapolis - St. Paul$134,390Over $187,200Over $187,200
Rochester$104,470Over $187,200Over $187,200

MISSISSIPPI
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $44,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 80

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Gulfport$85,890Over $187,200Over $187,200

MISSOURI
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $82,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 140

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
St. Louis$83,530Over $187,200Over $187,200
Kansas City$45,950Over $187,200Over $187,200

MONTANA
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $136,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Billings$177,170Over $187,200Over $187,200
Missoula$117,150Over $187,200Over $187,200

NEBRASKA
Median Salary: 
$133,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $53,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Omaha$53,470$86,890Over $187,200
Lincoln$83,520Over $187,200Over $187,200

NEVADA
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $57,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 26%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Las Vegas$52,710Over $187,200Over $187,200
Reno$69,870Over $187,200Over $187,200

NEW HAMPSHIRE
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $158,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Manchester$158,400Over $187,200Over $187,200
NashuaOver $187,200Over $187,200Over $187,200

NEW JERSEY
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $56,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 11%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 580

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Newark$54,470$178,330Over $187,200
Trenton$56,120$186,780Over $187,200

NEW MEXICO
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $86,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Albuquerque$49,620Over $187,200Over $187,200
Las Cruces$28,800Over $187,200Over $187,200

NEW YORK
Median Salary: 
$170,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $60,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,880

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New York City$59,850$161,480Over $187,200
Buffalo$46,140Over $187,200Over $187,200
Rochester$52,630$133,470Over $187,200
Albany$54,820$170,340Over $187,200

NORTH CAROLINA
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $56,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 20%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 530

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Charlotte$113,770Over $187,200Over $187,200
Raleigh$149,440Over $187,200Over $187,200
Greensboro$185,510Over $187,200Over $187,200
Winston - Salem$92,590Over $187,200Over $187,200

NORTH DAKOTA
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $92,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Fargo$151,250Over $187,200Over $187,200
Bismarck$186,030Over $187,200Over $187,200

OHIO
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $54,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 710

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cleveland$55,700Over $187,200Over $187,200
Columbus$59,120Over $187,200Over $187,200
Cincinnati$53,100$170,420Over $187,200
Dayton$50,780Over $187,200Over $187,200

OKLAHOMA
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $48,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 240

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Oklahoma City$46,130Over $187,200Over $187,200
Tulsa$48,410Over $187,200Over $187,200

OREGON
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $56,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 280

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$55,270Over $187,200Over $187,200
Salem$125,120Over $187,200Over $187,200

PENNSYLVANIA
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $55,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 610

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Philadelphia$53,700$165,090Over $187,200
Pittsburgh$54,250Over $187,200Over $187,200
Harrisburg$56,210$175,570Over $187,200
Allentown$81,180Over $187,200Over $187,200

RHODE ISLAND
Median Salary: 
$168,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $54,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 3%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Providence$55,280$170,620Over $187,200

SOUTH CAROLINA
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $57,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Greenville$53,320$63,470Over $187,200
Columbia$69,390Over $187,200Over $187,200
Charleston$59,970Over $187,200Over $187,200

SOUTH DAKOTA
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $175,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 4%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Sioux Falls$172,530Over $187,200Over $187,200
Rapid City$184,970Over $187,200Over $187,200

TENNESSEE
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $130,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 24%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 340

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Nashville$124,530Over $187,200Over $187,200
Memphis$118,010Over $187,200Over $187,200
Knoxville$133,270Over $187,200Over $187,200
Chattanooga$113,250Over $187,200Over $187,200

TEXAS
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $56,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 30%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,210

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Dallas - Ft. Worth$54,600Over $187,200Over $187,200
Houston$60,090$176,240Over $187,200
San Antonio$48,060$185,970Over $187,200
Austin$172,750Over $187,200Over $187,200

UTAH
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $78,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 23%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 80

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Ogden$54,650Over $187,200Over $187,200

VERMONT
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $62,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 11%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Burlington$56,160$157,280Over $187,200

VIRGINIA
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $58,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 21%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 360

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Virginia Beach$56,320Over $187,200Over $187,200
Richmond$144,930Over $187,200Over $187,200

WASHINGTON
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $120,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 240

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Seattle$108,630Over $187,200Over $187,200
Spokane$141,830Over $187,200Over $187,200

WEST VIRGINIA
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $65,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 5%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Huntington$118,980Over $187,200Over $187,200
Charleston$54,170Over $187,200Over $187,200

WISCONSIN
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $59,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 6%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 200

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Milwaukee$149,240Over $187,200Over $187,200
Madison$53,940Over $187,200Over $187,200

WYOMING
Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $166,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cheyenne$168,640Over $187,200Over $187,200
CasperOver $187,200Over $187,200Over $187,200

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the median annual pay among specialist doctors (a group that includes radiologists) is over $187,200. Meanwhile, Medscape’s survey of doctors in 26 specialties for its 2016 Physician Compensation Report found that the average annual pay of radiologists was $375,000.

Earnings increase with experience and vary by location and subspecialty. Additional variations can be seen between employed radiologists (who work for large hospitals), versus private practice radiologists (who work for an independent radiology practice).

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for physicians in general is strong, with growth of 14% expected between 2014 and 2024. This is much faster than average growth. Radiologists in particular may find their job prospects better than other physicians as well, due to the needs of an aging U.S. population.

Compare Salaries by City

New York City NY Median Pay

$161480 Per Year

$77.63 Per Hour

Chicago IL Median Pay

$177170 Per Year

$85.17 Per Hour

Steps to Become a Radiologist

1

Get accepted into a 4-year university and obtain a bachelor's degree.

A high GPA, above average MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) scores, multiple letters of recommendation, volunteering and leadership experiences, and exposure to basic and/or clinical research are essentially required to move on to the next step.

Show Me Schools »

2

Attend medical school.

After obtaining an acceptance to a M.D. or D.O. medical school, the student must complete the rigorous 4-year curriculum while still remaining towards the top of the class. While in medical school, students will learn all of the anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, pathophysiology, and pathology that are expected of all graduating physicians. Students must also study for, take, and perform highly on the United States Medical Licensing Examinations (USMLE), Steps 1 and 2. In the final year of medical school, applicants will apply to their post-graduate residency programs in various specialties, including radiology for those who aspire to become future radiologists.

3

Complete your internship and residency.

Following graduation from medical school, you are awarded a M.D. (or D.O.) degree, you can apply for a limited medical license, and you’re considered a physician. However, the true hands-on training must now begin. Radiologists are required to spend their first year as a resident – also known as “intern year” – practicing general medicine, surgery, or a combination of both. This includes taking care of patients in the emergency department, as well as inpatient and outpatient settings.

At this point, trainees are introduced to their specialty of radiology, so beginning a 4-year training program in the field. During these four years, the radiology resident will spend many hours, both day and night, in the hospital interpreting tens of thousands of imaging studies, counseling patients on their results, communicating results with other clinicians, and performing many image-guided procedures and interventions. Toward the end of training, the residents must take and pass multiple sets of examinations.

4

Enter a fellowship program.

The vast majority of graduating residents will then apply to and accept a 1- or 2-year fellowship program in a subspecialty of radiology. These include neuroradiology, musculoskeletal radiology, and interventional radiology, among many others. During this period, the radiology fellows undergo the final steps of training, learning the most advanced imaging and procedural techniques within their subspecialty.

5

Get licensed and consider board certification.

Following the completion of fellowship, radiologists are finally ready to apply their skills and independently practice their specialty. State licensure is mandatory for all practicing physicians, including radiologists. Most employers also require radiology candidates to hold board certification, which requires passage of a two-part examination covering medicine, anatomy, imaging modalities and physics.

6

Entertain opportunities for advancement or a change in direction.

Radiologists earn excellent salaries throughout their careers. As they advance, many choose a more comfortable lifestyle over pay increases. This usually takes the form of fewer nighttime, weekend and holiday shifts.

Other radiologists advance their careers by gaining new skills and expertise. It is not uncommon for an interventional radiologist to be the only professional in the region performing certain cutting-edge procedures. This allows the person to command a higher income and may present opportunities for leadership, research and community outreach.

Experienced radiologists sometimes leave the clinical setting to pursue research opportunities, take teaching positions or move into health care administration.

Exploring Degree Paths

There are basically three essential steps to becoming a radiologist: earning an undergraduate degree, earning a medical degree, and completing a radiology residency. The majority of radiologists also complete an additional year of highly specialized training called a fellowship. (In fact, many do more than one fellowship.)

That’s a pretty long career path, requiring about 13-15 years. So let’s break it down into manageable steps:

BACHELOR'S DEGREE

4 years

To get into medical school, you first need to earn a bachelor’s degree. You can major in just about anything so long as you complete your med school prerequisites. These vary a bit by school, but usually include classes in English, biology, physics, and (especially) chemistry. For details on specific schools, talk to your pre-medicine advisor or academic advising center.

Show Me Schools »

Some classes you’ll grow to love (or hate) as a pre-medicine undergraduate:

General chemistry (I and II)

Study the building blocks of matter and interactions between atoms and molecules.

Organic chemistry (I and II)

A specific branch of chemistry dedicated to the study of carbon-containing compounds.

Biology (I and II)

Delve into the properties of living things, from the structure of plants to genetics and cell biology.

Physics (I and II)

Study the behavior of matter at the molecular and atomic level with emphasis on mechanics, energy, radiation, and atomic structure.

Undergrad is also the time when most students take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). A great score will strengthen your medical school application.

Students typically start applying to medical schools at the end of junior year. This yearlong process involves applications, recommendations, and interviews. Your academic or pre-medicine advisor can be a great resource as you navigate the process.

MEDICAL SCHOOL

4 years

American medical schools come in two flavors: allopathic and osteopathic. They cover the same subjects, but their philosophies are slightly different:

  • Allopathic medical schools award MD degrees. The curriculum focuses on diagnosing and treating conditions with medications and surgery.
  • Osteopathic schools award DO degrees. They take a whole-person approach to care that emphasizes prevention and overall well being.

Either type of program can prepare you to be radiologist — and even a radiologic subspecialist.

Medical school is divided into two parts. Years 1 and 2 are about classes, practical exercises, and simulations. Expect to spend quality time with:

Anatomy

This is the one you’ve been hearing about. You and your lab partners dissect human cadavers to learn about the three-dimensional structure of the body. (But to be fair, there’s actually a lot more to this class, including an intro to x-rays and radiologic imaging).

Biochemistry

So what’s a protein, anyway? Well, you probably already know from undergrad O-chem. But this class dives deeper into the matter that makes up humans, including amino acids, nucleic acids, carbs, and more.

Embryology

Trace human development from a ball of cells to a baby. Learn how the organs and body systems form and differentiate.

Human behavior

Learn how humans develop cognitively, socially, and emotionally across the lifespan and how biology and environment shape our behavior.

In years 3 and 4, you’ll spend most of your time in hospitals and doctors’ offices learning from experienced physicians. The curriculum is designed so that you rotate through all the major specialties as well as a few of your choice (like radiology).

One pro tip: if you’re serious about becoming a radiologist, you must work really hard in medical school. Radiology residencies are extremely competitive, so study hard for your medical licensing exams and impress during your clinical rotations.

INTERNSHIP AND RESIDENCY

5 years

Congrats! You’ve graduated from medical school and matched with a radiology residency. That’s a pretty big feat.

You’ll typically begin this phase with an intern year in which you practice general medicine under supervision. You’ll then progress to four years of specialty training in diagnostic radiology, diagnostic-interventional radiology, or radiation oncology.

A day in the life of a radiology resident usually starts with case conferences with your attending and fellow residents. Then you’ll spend the morning in practice interpreting studies and performing procedures. Classroom (didactic) sessions happen around lunchtime, followed by more clinical practice time. You’ll also be on call some nights and weekends.

Depending on your focus, you might rotate through the following subspecialty areas:

Neuroradiology

Image, diagnose, and treat disorders of the nervous system (brain, spinal cord).

Interventional radiology

Use imaging to guide minimally invasive procedures such as stent placement in a blood vessel.

Pediatric radiology

Learn to image and treat conditions affecting newborns, infants, and children.

Radiation oncology

Treat cancer and related diseases using ionizing radiation.

FELLOWSHIP

1-2 years

This isn’t technically required to practice radiology, but it’s probably worth mentioning. Among medical specialties, radiology has one of the highest rates of fellowship-trained physicians. About 90 percent of doctors who complete a diagnostic radiology residency also complete one or more fellowships.

Fellows complete clinical rotations in highly specialized areas of radiology. So for example, if you’re a pediatric radiology fellow, you might spend a few weeks practicing fetal imaging or performing interventional procedures on babies and children. You’ll also participate in lectures, interdisciplinary conferences, and scholarly activities. Many fellowships have a research component.

Keys to Success as a Radiologist

Necessary Skills and Qualities

Academic excellence

Because competition for radiology residencies is fierce, students seeking to enter this field must be top academic performers with excellent medical school grades, outstanding USMLE scores, glowing letters of recommendation, and preferably a decent amount of exposure to the field.

Keen attention to detail

Without this, radiologists would be unable to arrive at proper diagnoses.

Interpersonal skills

Radiologists must be strong communicators and team players in order to work well with patients and colleagues. They must be compassionate and empathetic to properly support patients through difficult and stressful medical situations.

Additional Credentials

Board certification is technically optional but highly desired (and often expected) by employers, hospitals, and patients. The following organizations offer board certification in radiology. Not all states recognize all organizations, so check specific requirements in your area:

To achieve primary board certification, you need to be licensed, complete an approved residency program, and pass oral and written exams. Primary certification is available in the following areas:

  • Diagnostic radiology (AOBR, ABR, ABPS)
  • Radiation oncology (AOBR, ABR, ABPS)
  • Interventional radiology (ABR)
  • Diagnostic-interventional radiology (ABR)

Board certification in a subspecialty requires primary certification, completion of a fellowship, and passage of an exam. Some subspecialties have additional experience requirements.

Subspecialties of diagnostic radiology include:

  • Hospice and palliative medicine (ABR)
  • Neuroradiology (ABR, AOBR)
  • Nuclear radiology (ABR)
  • Pain medicine (ABR)
  • Pediatric radiology (ABR, AOBR)
  • Vascular/interventional radiology (ABR, AOBR)

Subspecialties of radiation oncology include:

  • Hospice and palliative medicine (ABR)
  • Pain medicine (ABR)
Andrew T. Colucci, MD

Andrew T. Colucci, MD is a senior radiology resident at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA, and a Clinical Instructor at Harvard Medical School. He is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society, and a graduate from Boston University School of Medicine and Boston College. His professional interests are quite varied and include clinical research, medical education, healthcare economics, and health policy.

x