Job Description

Radiologists are physicians who specialize in obtaining and interpreting diagnostic images of patients (such as x-rays). They are also tasked with documenting their findings in comprehensive reports.

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Intellectually stimulating tasks and problem-solving challenges
  • A sense of meaningful achievement through helping to improve a patient’s quality of life
The Inside Scoop
Job Responsibilities
  • Compile and study information about the patient’s medical history (e.g. from electronic records, patient appointments, or from referring physicians)
  • Conduct diagnostic imaging procedures (e.g. MRIs, CT scans, etc.)
  • Interpret the images to detect abnormalities that account for the patient’s symptoms
  • Record information (e.g. entering data and storing images) from appointments and relay examination results to referring physicians, patients, or families in comprehensive interpretive reports
  • Radiologists may also recommend further lines of investigation (e.g. blood testing)
  • Apart from diagnosis, scans may also be performed as part of follow-up treatment (e.g. to determine if prescribed therapy is working)
  • Radiologists may also be asked to consult with other physicians in multidisciplinary meetings to give their perspective on how scans correlate to the patient’s other diagnostics
  • Radiologists may also be expected to supervise trainees; an especially important task since radiology is a highly specialized field
Skills Needed

Soft Skills

  • Problem-solving
  • Decision-making
  • Inductive and Deductive reasoning
  • Communication (written and oral)

Technical Skills

  • Medical software: E.g. Bizmatics PrognoCIS EMR, Greenway Medical Technologies PrimeSUITE, Vitera Healthcare Solutions Vitera Intergy RIS
  • Data management: Microsoft Excel
  • Knowledge of medicine, science disciplines, and how to operate related medical equipment
Different Types of Organizations
  • Public/Private hospital
  • Private Radiology practice
Expectations/Sacrifices Necessary
  • Highly demanding education and training
  • Long shifts and shifts at odd hours
  • Expectation to work quickly and accurately can be stress-inducing at times
Current Industry Trends
  • Mitigating radiation doses: there is an ongoing discussion regarding the risk of radiation exposure during medical imaging processes. While technologies and precautions exist to protect radiologists and their teams, there is great interest in allocating time and money toward developing protocols that will generally decrease radiation doses.
  • Using 3D printing and other forms of computer-aided design: 3D models can be very useful for diagnosing patients or instructing surgeons
What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were young...
  • Reading complicated texts that develop perseverance and critical thinking
  • A passion for science subjects, demonstrated by taking challenging science courses, participating in science fairs and other science competitions
2016 Employment
2026 Projected Employment
Education and Training Needed

Basic Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree which should include the prerequisite courses for admission to medical school
  • Doctor of Medicine degree (four years of medical school)
  • Specialized radiology residency (four years)
  • Fellowship program in a subspecialty of radiology (one-two years)
  • Throughout a radiologist’s career he/she will require extra training to keep up with the emergence of new medical technologies

Requirements for Licensure:

  • Pass the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE)
  • Or pass the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Exam (COMLEX)
  • Different states may require additional licensure

Requirements for Career Advancement:

  • Board certification is optional and requires periodic retraining to maintain, but is a good way of enhancing a radiologist’s professional profile
  • American Board of Radiology (ABR)
  • American Osteopathic Board of Radiology (AOBR)
  • Additional fellowship training allows a radiologist to further specialize to obtain rare and in-demand skills such as interventional radiology
Things to do during high school/college
  • Take as many biology and chemistry courses as possible, perhaps going further to work in a lab doing research
  • Try to shadow a radiologist, volunteer in a hospital, become a trained EMT or any such experience that acquaints you with the healthcare industry
Some Related Scholarship

Medical School and Pre-Med Scholarships:

Typical Roadmap
Radiologist roadmap gif
How to land your 1st job
  • Approach hospitals in areas where you want to live and offer your services to them
  • Jobs may also be posted/advertised on the websites of professional associations
What it really takes to make it and succeed
  • The ability to work efficiently and accurately under stressful conditions and for long hours
  • Excellent communication skills (verbal and written)
  • Superior critical thinking abilities
Plan B
  • Consulting
  • Research: work in/lead a research department in a pharmaceutical company
  • Entrepreneur: research, develop, and market new medical imaging technology
  • Academic: Teach at a college/university


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Source: Interviews, Bureau of Labor Statistics, LifeHacker

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