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At a Glance

  • Usually work at least 40 hours a week
  • Must be licensed
  • Training lasts about ten years after high school
  • Work as part of a team
  • Are exposed to radiation, diseases, and infections daily

Career summary

Radiologists are doctors who interpret x-rays and other medical images. They also treat disease with radiation.

Medical imaging allows doctors to diagnose problems more quickly and accurately using less invasive treatments. Radiologists use a variety of techniques for diagnosing diseases and injuries, including:

Radiologists supervise radiologic technicians who take the images requested by a patient's doctor or health care provider. Radiologists make sure images are of high quality and that all safety procedures are followed. After the images and tests are complete, they interpret the images.

Radiologists do not usually talk with patients. Instead they confer with the doctor who ordered the tests and images. Based on their findings, radiologists may recommend further exams or treatments to the doctor.

Radiologists may specialize in one area of medical imaging, such as:

With two years of additional training, radiologists can also specialize in interventional radiology which uses radiation or minimally invasive procedures to treat diseases. This area also includes image-guided surgery. In this area, radiologists work directly with patients.

Related careers

This career is part of the Health Science cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Military careers

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to radiologists.

Common work activities

Radiologists perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, radiologists:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Radiologists frequently:

It is important for radiologists to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for radiologists to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Radiologists need to:


Reason and problem solve

Use math and science

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Work with things

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a radiologist, you typically need to:

Education after high school

To become a radiologist, you need to complete medical school. Medical schools grant a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DOM) degree. You spend the first two years of medical school in classrooms and labs studying anatomy, biochemistry, advanced physics, and medicines. You also learn how to take medical history, examine patients, and make a diagnosis. During the next two years, you work in hospitals and clinics under the supervision of experienced physicians.

You need a bachelor's degree to get into medical school. While you do not need to be a pre-medicine or science major, these programs are good preparation. If you earn a liberal arts degree, be sure to take courses in anatomy, biology, chemistry, physics, and writing.

On-the-job training

While in medical school, you spend two years working as an intern in a hospital or clinic. As an intern, you rotate through different medical specialties. These include internal medicine, family medicine, obstetrics, oncology, and other hospital departments.

After medical school, you complete a residency program in radiology that lasts four to five years. Residents usually work in hospitals. The first year of your residence is a preliminary year, and remaining years will be focused on radiology. During this time you'll become familiar with different types of imaging and radiology, interact with patients, and learn how to diagnose and treat all types of diseases. After your residency, you'll take additional exams to become board certified. If you want to specialize in a specific type of radiology, you'll need an additional fellowship after residency. This takes one to two years.

Military training

The military provides advanced training for doctors. However, it does not provide the initial training to become a doctor. Scholarships for advanced medical training are available in return for a required period of military service.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum (external link) may be different from your state's graduation requirements (external link).

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups (PDF file) that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Many radiologists begin work in a group practice or clinic. Some go to work for the hospital where they complete their residency.

Employers look for applicants who are inquisitive, compassionate, and patient. It is important to have good communication skills and be an effective decision-maker. Strong analytical and problem-solving skills are also important. In addition, radiologists spend a lot of time talking with patients, nurses, and other doctors, so good communication skills are important.

Costs to workers

Radiologists who join professional associations may pay membership fees and annual dues. They may also attend courses, seminars, and workshops to update their knowledge and keep up to date on changes in their field.

Radiologists who have borrowed money to pay school expenses have large debt payments for the first few years after graduation. The average debt for medical students who graduated in 2018 was $196,520 with 83% percent owing at least $100,000. Malpractice insurance is expensive. To enter private practice, practitioners must invest in equipment, office space, and staffing costs. Estimated costs range from $75,000 to $100,000 or more.

#data from Carol added 3/20/14 lh. Updated from pdf LH found  https://www.aamc.org/download/152968/data/debtfactcard.pdf, 3/24/15 cj. updated 3/16 lh

#Updated debt info from AAMC First 2016 debt card linked to from this page https://students-residents.aamc.org/financial-aid/ 1/10/17 cj. Updated debt from Oct 2018 AAMC Fact card 3/19/19 cj.


You must be licensed by the Washington State Board of Medical Examiners as either a medical or osteopathic physician. You also need to take specific tests from the American Board of Radiology or the American Osteopathic College of Radiology. State licensing requirements include:

For more information on the US Medical Licensing Exam, call 215.590.9500 or go to the National Board of Medical Examiners (external link) website.

Osteopathic doctors must complete 150 hours of continuing education every three years and medical doctors must complete 200 hours of continuing education every four years.

Licensing fees vary ranging from $491 (medical physicians) to $391 (osteopathic physicians) for the application. The annual renewal fee for osteopathic physicians is $441 and the biannual renewal fee for medical physicians is $657. The combined fee for an application and state exam for osteopathic practitioners is $516. The licensing and the renewal fees generally include an access fee for health-related online library journals and publications and a Washington physician health program surcharge.

For more information on medical doctors, contact:

Washington Medical Commission (external link)
PO Box 47866
Olympia, WA 98504-7866

For information on osteopathic doctors, contact:

Washington State Board of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery (external link)
PO Box 47877
Olympia, WA 98504-7865

#Checked licensing info, added CTW content, no changes to licensing fees, 3/8/11, cj updated fees 3/20/12 lh. No change from what is in tag insert file, 4/24/13, 3/24/15, 1/10/17 cj 3.14.18 lh, 3/19/19 cj.


Currently, there is no specific statewide wage information available for radiologists. However, this occupation is part of the larger group called "all other physicians and surgeons."

Physicians and surgeons, all other (SOC 29-1069)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $48.36 $79.36 (1) (1) (1)
Monthly $8,381 $13,753 (1) (1) (1)
Yearly $100,600 $165,060 (1) (1) (1)
    Bellingham Hourly $72.55 (2) (2) (2) (2)
Monthly $12,573 (2) (2) (2) (2)
Yearly $150,899 (2) (2) (2) (2)
    Bremerton-Silverdale Hourly $71.33 $84.43 $99.42 (2) (2)
Monthly $12,361 $14,632 $17,229 (2) (2)
Yearly $148,372 $175,633 $206,801 (2) (2)
    Clarkston-Lewiston Hourly $53.58 $97.51 (2) (2) (2)
Monthly $9,285 $16,898 (2) (2) (2)
Yearly $111,434 $202,811 (2) (2) (2)
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $41.79 $60.88 (2) (2) (2)
Monthly $7,242 $10,551 (2) (2) (2)
Yearly $86,905 $126,626 (2) (2) (2)
    Longview Hourly $82.07 (2) (2) (2) (2)
Monthly $14,223 (2) (2) (2) (2)
Yearly $170,709 (2) (2) (2) (2)
    Mount Vernon-Anacortes Hourly $25.58 $47.63 (2) (2) (2)
Monthly $4,433 $8,254 (2) (2) (2)
Yearly $53,211 $99,052 (2) (2) (2)
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $18.27 $31.23 $98.25 (2) (2)
Monthly $3,166 $5,412 $17,027 (2) (2)
Yearly $38,002 $64,966 $204,361 (2) (2)
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $53.73 $86.69 (2) (2) (2)
Monthly $9,311 $15,023 (2) (2) (2)
Yearly $111,749 $180,323 (2) (2) (2)
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $28.29 $48.86 $93.56 (2) (2)
Monthly $4,903 $8,467 $16,214 (2) (2)
Yearly $58,850 $101,628 $194,605 (2) (2)
    Vancouver Hourly $28.12 $37.37 $73.86 (2) (2)
Monthly $4,873 $6,476 $12,800 (2) (2)
Yearly $58,485 $77,735 $153,643 (2) (2)
    Walla Walla Hourly $37.55 $56.33 $60.19 $72.58 (2)
Monthly $6,507 $9,762 $10,431 $12,578 (2)
Yearly $78,115 $117,177 $125,194 $150,965 (2)
    Wenatchee Hourly $58.09 $92.04 (2) (2) (2)
Monthly $10,067 $15,951 (2) (2) (2)
Yearly $120,826 $191,441 (2) (2) (2)
    Yakima Hourly $80.87 $96.36 (2) (2) (2)
Monthly $14,015 $16,699 (2) (2) (2)
Yearly $168,219 $200,420 (2) (2) (2)
United States Hourly $28.98 $53.58 $96.58 (1) (1)
Monthly $5,022 $9,285 $16,737 (1) (1)
Yearly $60,280 $111,440 $200,890 (1) (1)

(1) Wages are greater than $90/hour or $187,200/year.
(2) Wage estimate is not available.

Wages vary by employer, years of experience, and hours worked. The doctor's skill, personality, and professional reputation also affect wages. Self-employed radiologists generally earn more than those who are not self-employed.

Radiologists usually receive benefits. Typical benefits include sick leave, paid vacation, health insurance, and a retirement plan. Radiologists who are self-employed must provide their own insurance and retirement plan.

National wage information is not available specifically for radiologists. However, they are part of the larger group of "all other physicians and surgeons."

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

#Currently, there is no specific statewide outlook information available for radiologists. However, this occupation is part of the larger group called "all other physicians and surgeons."

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Physicians and Surgeons, All Other (SOC 29-1069)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 9,109 19.9% 16.1% 620
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 151 -4.6% 13.4% 3
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 109 15.6% 8.6% 6
    Benton and Franklin Counties 267 26.6% 15.0% 22
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 264 24.2% 11.9% 20
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 547 21.4% 15.2% 38
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 338 17.2% 14.1% 21
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 364 20.3% 14.6% 25
    King County 4,362 19.6% 19.6% 294
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 243 18.9% 13.8% 16
    Pierce County 678 20.1% 15.2% 46
    Snohomish County 973 21.7% 12.4% 70
    Spokane County 669 18.7% 13.9% 43
United States 433,700 7.8% 5.2% 16,500

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand will grow significantly for radiologists. Much of the demand for radiologists will be the result of a growing population. As the population grows, the number of people in need of care from radiologists will increase. In addition, an aging population will increase the number of people with conditions that require treatment from radiologists. New federal health care laws mean that more people will have access to medical treatment.

Job prospects are best for those who are board certified.

Employment and outlook information is not available specifically for radiologists. However, they are part of the larger group of "all other physicians and surgeons."

Other resources

American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (external link)
5550 Friendship Boulevard, Suite 310
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
American College of Radiology (external link)
1891 Preston White Drive
Reston, VA 20191
American Medical Association (external link)
American Medical Association - Medical Student Section (external link)
American Osteopathic Association (external link)
142 East Ontario Street
Chicago, IL 60611
American Osteopathic College of Radiology (external link)
119 East Second Street
Milan, MO 63556
American Society for Radiology Oncology (external link)
251 - 18th Street South, 8th Floor
Arlington, VA 22202
Aspiring Docs Website from the American Association of Medical Colleges (external link)
Nuclear Medicine Physicists (external link)
Radiological Society of North America (external link)
820 Jorie Boulevard
Oak Brook, IL 60523
The American Board of Radiology (external link)
5441 East Williams Circle
Tucson, AZ 85711
The Student Doctor Network (external link)
Washington Osteopathic Medical Association (external link)
PO Box 1187
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
Washington State Medical Association (external link)
2001 Sixth Avenue, Suite 2700
Seattle, WA 98121


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupation

Strong Interest Inventory

Holland occupational cluster