Exploring Careers in Radiology

May 20, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

Click here for 2021 shadowing opportunities

Mentors teaching students new skillsDid you ever break your arm or twist your ankle when you were younger?  To confirm the extent of the break, your doctor ordered an x-ray.  The person who helped you during this time is known as a Radiologist or Radiology Technician.  If you are interested in a career that involves making diagnoses and medical technology, then this might be the perfect medical profession for you!






Education and Training

There are two pathways to become a certified Radiologist or Radiology Technician.  One involves medical school; the other does not. 

Radiologist:  To become a radiologist, you must first become a physician.  This involves the standard course of study.  Earn your undergraduate degree and enter medical school.  Obtain your medical degree, and then complete a four-year residency in radiology.  At that point, you’ll have the option to specialize in specific medical imaging technologies or on different parts of the body, like the brain. The best radiologists are board certified, so you’ll need to pass those high stakes tests to bring in a top dollar salary.

Radiology Technician:  The educational requirements and training are significantly shorter for radiology technicians.  To enter this field, your minimum educational requirement is an Associate’s Degree and a passing score on state certification exams.  You can go on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree if you want or specialized certifications (in such medical imaging areas like MRI), and these additional trainings will increase your overall earning potential and make you more employable. 

Duties and Responsibilities

The Radiology Technician is the first line of interaction that many patients have when they require medical imaging services.  As a Radiology Technician, you’ll operate the medical imaging machines that patients will enter to determine the extent of their problems.  These machines include x-ray, computer tomography, and MRI.  You’ll take patient medical histories, interpret physician medical imaging instructions, assist patients in the imaging machines, and make sure that the images are perfectly captured for interpretation.  

This is where the Radiologist takes over.  Radiologists are trained to interpret the images captured by the technician.  Radiologist makes diagnoses and recommendations for further testing or treatments.  Radiologists have very little patient interaction, but they make a tremendous difference in their lives.

Salary and Career Outlook

Because of the significant differences in training and job responsibilities, there is a wide gap between the salaries and working conditions of Radiologists and Radiology Technicians.  As board certified physicians, Radiologists earn one of the highest salaries in the medical professions, over $400,000 per year.  They also have a flexible work schedule and can work from home, reading and interpreting medical images through hospital computer networks. Because Radiologists do not need to see patients in person, they have greater opportunity for vacations. 

Radiology Technicians can increase their salary through education and training.  Those without MRI certification earn up to $50,000 per year.  With MRI training, you can expect to earn over $65,000 per year.  You’ll work in a number of environments, including hospitals, private practice, and for-profit companies. 

Both Radiologists and Radiology Technicians can expect to have a high rate of employment opportunities as medical imaging technologies advance.  If helping patients through the use of high tech machinery interests you, there are many options in the field of radiology available!