What is a Radiologist

A radiologist is a specialized physician who uses diagnostic imaging tests and interventional procedures that involve the use of X-ray, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging equipment to diagnose and treat diseases and other assorted bodily issues. This is done through a variety of imaging technologies such as X-Ray radiography, CT (computed tomography), PET (positron emission tomography), MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), and ultrasound. A radiologic technologist (or radiographer) performs the imaging while the radiologist interprets the images and use them to aid other physicians.

Read more: Radiologist Job Description

Where do Radiologists Work

The majority of radiologists work in public or private hospitals, outpatient centers and private radiology practices, however digital advancements have allowed them to work in a variety of settings, provided they have access to the Internet and a high-resolution screen. They generally have limited patient contact, instead analyzing and interpreting images to formulate possible diagnoses.

Work Schedule

The typical work schedule for a radiologist runs from 8:00am to 5:00pm, though this varies based on the practice and specialties. They will have a list of cases to perform through the day, and will need to clear it before the day is finished. Often, a radiologist will work on several different types of cases, depending on the needs of the practice; this requires flexibility, and gives a great variety to the job. Additionally, a radiologist will occasionally be required to be on call.

Mean Annual Radiologist Salary

The average annual radiologist salary is $379,790. The lowest 10% of  radiologist salaries are less than $276,427. The top 10% of radiologist salaries reach more than $496,323.

Radiologist Salary: Quick Summary

2014 Mean Salary$379,790 per year
$182.59 per hour
Top 10% Salary$496,323 per year
$238.62 per hour
Bottom 10% Salary
$276,427 per year
$132.90 per hour
Number of Jobs, 2012691,400 (All Physicians)

Radiologist Job Outlook and Prospects

Radiology is in the midst of an upheaval. While there is a general shortage of radiologists, much of the work is being outsourced to telemedical companies, both nationally and internationally. This has led to a depression in wages since 2006, and a reduced demand for Radiologists in general. While the wages still top the list of specialties, it is waning, with the mean income having dropped by 10% between 2010 and 2011. There are also questions surrounding the use of radiation, and the concerns of over-use of tests.

What Affects The Radiologist Salary

Radiologists are a necessary part of the health care system, offering essential insight into the inner workings of a patient’s issues. They help fellow physicians to paint a greater picture of the problem and treatment involved, and require highly specialized training to do this. However, continued refinement of the field, as well as its method of delivery, has led to a decrease in salary in recent years. Despite this, radiologists retain some of the highest salaries in health care, with a mean income in 2014 of approximately $379,790.

As mentioned above, concerns regarding redundant or unnecessary tests, and their side effects, have led to concern over radiology. Radiology is also being out-sourced to more cost-effective companies. A further challenge is presented by gender; Medscape.com has recently revealed a gender gap in U.S. Radiologists, with male radiologists making an average of 16.5% more than females.

Education and Specialization

Radiologists require a bachelor’s degree, which may be in any subject. However, prerequisites must be met in chemistry (organic and inorganic), biology, physics, math, and humanities. This is followed by a medical degree. Radiology is a competitive specialty, requiring academic excellence. A four-year residency, working an average of 60 hours per week as well as nights on call, will follow this. Some candidates then pursue a fellowship in a subspecialty lasting an average of 1 to 3 years. Finally, licensing is required to practice, involved a two-part examination in medicine, anatomy, and imagining modalities.

Experience and Position

Due to radiology’s fierce competition, radiologists with more experience will be more likely to earn a higher salary, as well as receiving a more desirable position. All radiologists require residencies, and subspecialty fellowships are an additional benefit to this, as they allow further specialization skills. However, specialization must be balanced with skill mutability to ensure a lucrative position.


Recently certified radiologists can anticipate potential jobs either in rural areas, where demand is high, or with teleradiology companies. While teleradiology may lead to a less lucrative salary, it may be a required entrance level in the coming years, as the industry itself grows and changes to market forces. Otherwise, hospital and individual practice settings are the strongest areas of demand.


While needed in most clinical settings, radiology can essentially be practiced from any location through telemedicine. With the proper equipment, a radiologist can effectively work through a teleradiology company such as Nighthawk, or even from home, under the right circumstances.

States with higher populations have higher demands; as such, radiologists are currently in highest demand in California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania.

More often than not, rural areas especially in the Midwest and central Southern US have some of the highest wages for radiologist.