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Radiologists: The Different Types, What They Do, and How Much They Earn

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What is a radiologist?

Radiologists are the medical professionals that use medical imaging techniques to diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries. They use ultrasound, x-rays, computed tomography (CT), positron emission tomography (PET), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to diagnose and radiation or image-guided surgery to treat diseases.

What are the different types of radiologists?

Radiation Oncologist

This type of radiologist usually treats cancer patients. To treat cancer, they use various radiation-type treatments, including radiotherapy, immunotherapy, and chemotherapy. Not only do they treat their patients, but they also follow up with patients after their treatment.

Working alongside radiation oncologists, radiation therapists are the ones who plan and administer the radiation doses to patients and continue with patient care for the duration of treatments. Radiation oncologists can also be physicists that monitor the amount of radiotherapy that patients receive.

Diagnostic Radiologist

Diagnostic radiologists, like the name, suggests, use medical imaging techniques to diagnose diseases. This specialization within radiology has a number of specializations in itself, including:

  • Breast imaging
  • Cardiovascular & Chest Radiology
  • Gastrointestinal Radiology
  • Hospice & Palliative Medicine
  • Musculoskeletal Radiology
  • Neuroradiology
  • Nuclear Radiology
  • Pain Medicine
  • Pediatric Radiology
  • Reproductive & Urinary Radiology

Interventional Radiologist

While the name may sound invasive, interventional radiologists use the least invasive techniques to diagnose and treat conditions. In contrast to traditional surgery, interventional radiology offers less pain and risk and a quicker recovery period. In addition to treating cancer, interventional radiologists treat uterine fibroids, heart disease, and strokes.

How much do radiologists earn?

On average, radiologists, in general, make around $27,000 per month. That’s what many people make in an entire year. Interventional radiologists make slightly more than the other types. Still, it also depends on where you live to gain a better understanding of how much one could earn as a radiologist. Radiologists in California, specifically San Jose, Oakland, Hayward, Vallejo, and Concord, see some of the highest salaries at over $30,000 per month. 

How to Become a Radiologist

Like many jobs in healthcare, becoming a fully licensed radiologist can take a while— up to fourteen years, to be exact. This includes earning a Bachelor’s degree at a four-year university, attending medical school for another four years, completing a four-year radiology residency program, and finally, two years studying a specialization (oncology, diagnostic, or interventional).

Once you have completed all of your schooling and training, you may be able to work for whichever medical institution in which you received your training. However, the best way to find the perfect job match for you is to conduct searches on job sites catered to healthcare professionals. By doing this, you’ll be more likely to find jobs that are suited to your specialization/sub-specialization.

Pros and Cons of Working as a Radiologist

One of the most obvious benefits of working as a radiologist is the rewards you receive by working as a doctor in general. You get to help people every day, and on top of that, you get paid extremely well. Radiologists are also in high demand, so this job is not likely to go away. It’s also not a typical “nine to five” job, as your work schedule can be very flexible.

On the other hand, a more flexible schedule can mean unpredictable hours. As mentioned before, it also takes several years of schooling and training that can be stressful, and once you become a radiologist, you won’t be free of stress. But if you love learning and are passionate about helping people (and don’t mind being compensated with a generous yearly salary), then the rewards of the job can outweigh the stress.

Radiology is a very fascinating part of the field of medicine. A lot of the work that radiologists do is “behind the scenes,” but they are no less important than any other type of medical professional.

Featured Photo by Owen Beard on Unsplash