Radiologists are medical doctors who are experts in using medical imaging tools to diagnose and treat diseases/ailments/injuries. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and X-ray are two common medical imaging techniques used widely in the healthcare sector.

In 2019, the number of Physicians and Ophthalmologists (Except Pediatric) working in the United States stood at 390,680. This will surely grow in the coming years. If you plan on joining the healthcare sector, then you might want to consider becoming a Radiologist. This piece has all the details.

Should I Become a Radiologist?

Education Doctor of Medicine (MD)/Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO)/Combined Program (Medical and PhD)
Area of Study/Major Requirement Medicine (Radiology)
License/Certification Required
Experience/Training Required
Key Skills Use of Radiology Equipment, Problem Sensitivity, Near Vision, Communication, Medicine and Dentistry.
Annual Mean Salary (2019) $203,450 (Physicians and Ophthalmologists, Except Pediatric)
Job Outlook (2018-2028) 7% (Physicians and Surgeons)

Sources: O*Net Online and US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Radiologists support healing in patients through the use of various medical imaging tools. The techniques utilized belong to one of the following categories.

  • Diagnostic Radiology
  • Interventional Radiology
  • Medical Physics
  • Radiation Oncology

Long hours and weekends at work are frequent occurrences for radiologists.

Career Outlook

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a 7% increase in Physicians and Surgeons jobs from 2018 to 2028. This is slightly higher than the expected employment growth in other fields. The rise will be due to a growing and ageing population.

Steps to Become a Radiologist in the US

To become a Radiologist in the US, you have to first become a medical doctor. Here are all the steps.

  1. Bachelor’s Degree
  2. Begin your journey by enrolling in an undergraduate degree program. You can pick a major of your choice but should ideally take some mathematics and science courses (biology, physics, chemistry, psychology, etc.) because many medical schools have them as entry prerequisites. A specific pre-medical stream (optional) is also available in many colleges.

  1. Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
  2. Next up is the Medical College Admission Test. It is typically taken during the last 2 years of the Bachelor’s degree program. You must do really well on this exam to get into an excellent medical school.

  1. Medical School
  2. Medical school usually takes 4 years and you will graduate with either a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) or a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree. Some medical schools also offer a third option. This is a combined program through which you can earn both an MD and a PhD degree. Graduates of this program can pursue a career as both medical doctors and scientists.

  1. Grab Your Medical License
  2. After medical school is done and dusted, you can apply for your license. All states have their own requirements for licensing medical professionals. There is usually a standardized exam like the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX) or the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) among other criteria. This will complete the process of becoming a medical doctor.

  1. Radiology Residency
  2. Now that you are a doctor, it is time to join a radiology residency program. It usually takes 4 to 5 years to complete. If you decide to go for a sub-specialty on top of it, then another few years of training and clinical work is needed. The following sub-specialty options will be available to you.

    • Pediatric Radiology
    • Nuclear Radiology
    • Vascular and Interventional Radiology
    • Neuroradiology
    • Radiation Oncology

  1. Board Certification
  2. When your radiology residency is over, you can apply for certification from the American Board of Radiology. Becoming a certified radiologist will guarantee a long and prosperous career in the field.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Radiologist?

The total timeframe includes 4 years of Bachelor’s studies, 4 years of medical school and 4 to 6 years of residency. This comes to about 12 to 15 years.

What Are the Requirements for Becoming a Radiologist

To become a Radiologist, you need to come up to the following requirements.

  • Acquiring an undergraduate education.
  • Graduating from a medical school with a DO or an MD degree.
  • Earning the state license.
  • Completing radiology residency.
  • Getting certified by the American Board of Radiology.

How Much Can I Make After Becoming a Radiologist?

As per information gathered by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Physicians and Ophthalmologists (Except Pediatric) in the country made $203,450 in annual mean wage in 2019.