What Is the Average Annual Income for a Radiologist?

Explore the career requirements for radiologists. Get the facts about salary, job outlook and education and licensure requirements to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Cardiovascular Sonography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Radiologist?

Radiologists are medical doctors who have completed a residency in the field of radiology. They must also be board certified in radiology. They use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment and other equipment to diagnose patients. They can use the equipment to produce internal images of a patient and then interpret those images to diagnose the patient's condition. Radiologists are involved in taking patient histories before the tests are performed, and may discuss the results with the patients afterwards. They may also recommend treatment for the patient.

Degree Required Doctorate
Education Field of Study Medicine
Key Responsibilities Interpreting x-rays, scans, ultrasounds and mammograms; recommending and providing treatments; working with radiology technicians; performing minor procedures
Licensure and Certification Medical license required; certification also expected
Job Growth (2014-2024) 14% (for all physicians and surgeons)*
Median Salary (2016) $286,992**

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

What Does a Radiologist Do?

Radiologists specialize in imaging technology used to diagnose, treat and prevent diseases. They interpret x-rays, CT and CAT scans, ultrasounds and mammograms. They identify foreign growths, bone breakage and other ailments beneath human soft tissues. Radiologists also perform minor invasive procedures such as arthrograms (x-rays of a patient's joint using a contrasting material like water or dye) and hysterosalpingograms (x-rays of the female reproductive organs).

What Kind of Training Do I Need?

Like all doctors, radiologists need to complete a minimum of four years of medical school. This means you need a Doctor of Medicine degree (M.D.) that includes 3-4 years residency or internship experience before you can qualify for a license in radiology. During your residency program you will have a chance to work side-by-side with acclaimed diagnostic and clinical radiologists.

If you want to specialize in a particular area such as pediatric, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal radiology, you need to complete additional internships or courses that prepare you for you the intended field. Radiology specialists who complete additional years of training typically earn higher salaries than general diagnosis radiologists.

What Kind of License Do I Need?

All doctors need a medical license to practice. The American Board of Radiology (ABR) certifies new radiologists. Radiologists progress through the certification process during their residency years. General radiologists usually have a certificate in diagnostic radiology. General radiology includes a variety of diagnostic and image-guided therapeutic techniques such as ultrasounds, mammograms, CAT scans, and other computed tomography methods. If you wish to specialize in a subfield of radiology, ABR offers certificates in fields that include pediatric, vascular and interventional, nuclear radiology and neuroradiology.

How Much Will I Make?

From 2014-2024, job growth for physicians and surgeons was expected to be faster than the average for all occupations, reported the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, (www.bls.gov); information specific to radiologists was not available. Salary information for radiologists can vary depending on experience and field of specialty. General or diagnostic radiologists typically earn less than specialists in the field. Due to the wide spectrum of educational requirements between general radiologists and specialized radiologists, the gap in wages can be very wide. According to PayScale.com, in October 2016, most radiologists, the 10th to 90th percentiles, earned between $100,772 and $415,781 a year.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners all perform some tasks that are comparable to the tasks of radiologists. They may all be involved in taking a patient's medical history and updating their chart. They may all perform tests or assist with medical tests that will be used to diagnose patients. As part of that process they may discuss the test with the patient, and physicians and physician assistants may relay the results to patients after tests are completed. Like radiologists, physicians need a medical degree, although they will complete a different residency. Physician assistants and nurse practitioners need a master's degree.

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