A radiologist is a medical doctor who diagnoses and treats diseases with x-rays and radioactive substances. They treat benign and malignant growths using radiation from x-rays or radioisotopes that are directed or implanted in the affected areas.

A radiologist may specialize in radiation oncology, diagnostic radiology or nuclear medicine. While a radiologist must complete all of the medical training needed to become a doctor in order to practice, you can start a career in radiology with an associate degree program and meeting licensing requirements to become a radiologic technician.

A radiologist must complete 4 years of undergraduate studies, then attend medical school and complete a residency. They are usually board certified from the American Board of Radiology. While much of the education required to become a radiologist must be taken in a physical classroom, much of the core coursework can be completed online

An entry-level position as a radiologic technician usually requires an associate or bachelor’s degree in a related field. Training programs may be offered in hospitals, colleges or vocational schools.

Radiologist Job Description

A radiologist works in a hospital or other medical setting using x-ray images to diagnose and treat diseases or injuries. They are often on the cutting edge of medical technology, using computer imaging techniques and nuclear medicine to advance accepted treatments. Radiological specialties include:

  • Emergency radiologist-specializes in working with trauma victims in the emergency room.
  • Mammographer-studies images to determine the best course of breast disease treatment.
  • Cardiovascular radiologist-works with cardiac patients and diseases of the vascular system.
  • Computed tomographer-uses computerized radiology equipment to diagnose problems with organs and bones.
  • Diagnostic radiologist-specializes in the diagnosis of disease using radiologic techniques.

A radiologist will often consult with other medical specialists to determine the best course of treatment for a patient’s illness or injury.

Radiologist Salary

According to a survey by, the median salary for a radiologist in the United States is $354,686 per year. Interviews with working radiologists put the salary for a private practice radiologist much higher, with the head of a radiology department at a large hospital earning over $500,000 per year.

Salaries for radiologists may vary with the size of the facility where they work. A larger hospital or medical facility will often pay more than a smaller clinic. Because of the aging population and advancing technology, job prospects for radiologists are expected to grow at an above average rate for the next decade.

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