How to Become a Radiologist: Career Advice & Information

Overview & Salaries


Radiology is a specialist field of medicine which uses radiation and imaging to help doctors diagnose and treat medical conditions. A diagnostic radiologist is a physician who interprets the results of x-rays, ultrasound, CT scans, nuclear medicine, and MRIs, in order to diagnose illnesses. Clinical radiologists are also physicians, and use radiation to treat certain conditions, such as cancer.

Radiologists are assisted by radiological technologists, who are skilled in using imaging equipment to produce scans. Radiological technologists usually physically perform the scans, under a radiologist’s direction, ensuing the imaging is done accurately and safety.


Annual salaries for radiologists and radiologic technologists will vary depending on your experience, education level, and expertise.

In 2013, the average annual salary for miscellaneous physicians and surgeons working in the U.S. was $187,200 per year, but it isn’t clear how many of these physicians and surgeons were radiologists.

In 2013, the average annual salary for radiologic technologists in the U.S. was $56,760 per year.

For more information on what parts of the country have the most opportunities in radiology, click through to our Best Places to Work tab for information on the number of people employed and the average salary in each state.

Discover the Best Cities and States to Work in Radiology

California leads the nation in employment for radiological technologists, where 14,740 are currently working statewide, and earning an annual average salary of $72,030. Texas is second in employment with 13,520 radiological technologists occupying positions in various industries, who earn an average salary of $53,490. Separate career numbers for radiologists are harder to come by.

The metro areas employing the most radiological technologists are:

  • New York-White Plains (13,570)
  • Chicago-Joliet (10,370)
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach (9,620)

The metro areas employing the highest concentration of radiological technologists are:

  • Santa Fe, NM (6.01 jobs per thousand)
  • Jefferson City, MO (5.82 jobs per thousand)

The metro areas employing the best-paid radiological technologists are:

  • Vineland-Melville, NJ (average annual salary $123,760)
  • New York-White Plains (average annual salary $123,440)

Employment and Salary Information for Radiologists

Use our interactive map below to find out which areas of the United States are currently experiencing the greatest amount of growth and job availability for graduates looking for a career in radiology. The associated information has been gathered from Bureau of Labor statistics, representing data collected in 2012.

Why Become A Radiologist?

It’s hard to understate the importance of radiology to patients, but it has benefits as a career as well. Here are some of them:

  • Growing professions. The number of radiological technology jobs is projected to increase 21% between 2012 and 2022. Like much of healthcare, the field is growing much faster than the U.S. economy in general. Job growth for physicians and surgeons is expected to be 18%.
  • Save lives. Skilled technologists and sharp-eyed radiologists help catch patients’ problems before it’s too late to treat them.
  • Use futuristic equipment. From X-rays to nuclear medicine to MRIs—which align all the hydrogen atoms in your body—the science behind the equipment is pretty amazing.
  • Good pay. As specialist physicians, radiologists obviously require much education and training and are paid accordingly. Radiological technology is a little more accessible, but pays well: $56,760 per year was the average salary.
  • (Radiological Technicians) Accessible way to enter the healthcare profession. Radiological technicians need as associate’s degree (see the Degree Options page) but not as much training as some other healthcare professionals. So it’s a good job if you want to start making a difference quickly.

Radiology: What You Need To Know

Good-quality scans and careful examination of the resulting images is vital—it can save lives. It requires great skill and care. A working knowledge of these skill sets will help to set you apart from other candidates.

  • Use of Imaging Equipment
  • Patient Management
  • Understanding of Imaging Techniques
  • Attention to Detail
  • (for radiologists) Diagnostic Skill

Feel like you’ve got a lot to learn? Get more information about radiology careers, degrees, and applicable courses from one of the schools below.

Degree Options for Radiology Careers

Associate’s degree

For radiological technologists, the usual qualification is an associate’s degree in the subject through a college, technical school, or vocational school. Coursework includes anatomy and physiology, radiation physics and protection, pathology, and image evaluation.

Radiologists must also become licensed in most states. Requirements vary, but the license usually requires an exam.

Medical degree

For radiologists, many more years of study are needed. First, radiologists need to obtain a bachelor’s degree, and then to attend medical school, getting either a medical degree (MD) or doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO).

During the four years of medical school, radiology candidates will go through two years of study, followed by two years of supervised rotations inside of a hospital or other healthcare facility. Afterward, radiologists must then complete four years of a radiology residency, giving them hands-on experience performing radiology procedures on patients.