How to Become a Radiologist (With Salary, Duties and Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 15 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A radiologist is a licensed medical professional who specialises in medical imaging, like X-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans and MRIs to detect, diagnose and treat health problems. Becoming a radiologist may require many years of education, experience and training. If you have an interest in analysing medical images and providing insights on your findings, you may benefit by knowing what this career path entails and what you can expect from the job.

In this article, we explore a step-by-step guide to understand how to become a radiologist, explore their typical duties and average salary and discover the skills required to become a successful radiologist.

How to become a radiologist

To understand how to become a radiologist, follow these steps:

1. Complete your 10+2

Completing your 10+2 is the bare minimum requirement of becoming a radiologist. To start a career in radiology, a candidate requires physics, chemistry and biology as mandatory subjects in 10+2. This helps in forming a strong base and allows the candidates to pass different radiology related entrance examinations.

2. Earn your bachelor's degree

The next step towards becoming a radiologist is completing your Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Medicine (MBBS) degree. To gain admission to a reputed medical institution, a candidate appears for different entrance exams. Various colleges and universities conduct their entrance examination on state and national levels. After getting admission to a reputed medical college, you complete your MBBS degree in five and half years and become a physician.

Related: How to Become a Doctor (With 6 Steps You Can Follow)

3. Complete your residency

For becoming a radiologist, a physician enrols in a three-year radiology residency program. A residency program is like an internship where you receive hands-on experience in the hospital setting. Usually, radiologists spend the first year of their residency practising general medicine and surgery, and their remaining two years focus on radiology. This residency program provides experience before joining full time as a radiologist.

During the residency program, you gain experience counselling patients, interpreting imaging studies' results and learning how to perform various image-guided procedures on ailing patients. Also, you can get a state license to start your career as a radiologist.

4. Enrol for a postgraduate course

After pursuing your MBBS degree and completing your residency, candidates can opt for a postgraduate course. You can choose any one from:

  • Diplomat of national board (DNB), which is a three-year course

  • Doctor of Medicine (MD), which is a three-year course

  • Diploma in medical radiodiagnosis (DMRD), which is a two-year course

Candidates can gain entry to these courses after clearing different entrance examinations. A postgraduate degree can help you advance your career, ensure you have in-depth knowledge about radiology and can ensure you earn a higher salary.

5. Enter a fellowship program

Often, candidates want to learn more about subspecialty in radiology. Some of these are diagnostic radiology, breast imaging radiology, radiation oncology, gastrointestinal radiology or cardiovascular radiology. During a fellowship program, candidates advance their imaging knowledge by getting trained in one of the subspecialties of radiology. Typically, a fellowship program may last anywhere between one to two years.

What does a radiologist do?

A radiologist is a doctor specialising in treating patients using medical imaging called radiology. Apart from medical imaging, a radiologist may perform these day-to-day duties:

  • determine the type of imaging for a patient based on their health problem

  • evaluate a patient's medical history

  • perform medical imaging procedures with or without help from an imaging specialist

  • review and interpret medical images from their examination

  • provide treatment recommendations and advocate further testing based on imaging results

  • offer medical advice to physicians and other medical specialists

  • supervise imaging techniques

Types of radiologists

When planning to become a radiologist, you can choose from these specialities:

Diagnostic radiology

These radiologists use different imaging procedures to diagnose and treat diseases. They use imaging techniques, like electromagnetic radiation, ultrasound, X-rays and radionuclides. Interestingly, diagnostic radiology provides many subspecialties such as paediatric, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and chest radiology.

Radiation oncology

A radiation oncologist uses radiation therapies to treat cancer. In this therapy, the radiologist uses high energy radiation to damage cancer cells and stop them from spreading further. They also ensure that their treatment plan is working and the patients respond to their treatment without facing any abnormal side effects.

Interventional radiology

Interventional radiology uses imaging procedures to provide therapy to people with noncancerous conditions. This interventional radiology involves minimally invasive procedures to diagnose illness or injuries. Interestingly, interventional radiology ensures surgical procedures are safe and it results in faster recovery time.

Average salary of a radiologist

The average salary of a radiologist is ₹64,513 per month. The exact salary may depend on certain factors, like experience, employer and location. Some cities pay a higher salary than others. For instance, the average salary of a radiologist in Mumbai is ₹1,08,375 per month, whereas the average salary in Delhi is ₹98,080 per month. Radiologists can specialise in various fields that can affect their salary. For instance, the average salary of an X-Ray technician is ₹14,844 per month.

Related: Salary Negotiation Tips and Examples

Skills of a radiologist

Here are a few skills to master for a rewarding and fulfilling career as a radiologist:

Technical skills

Radiologists require excellent technical skills to operate various radiological equipment like CT scanners, X-ray machines and MRI scanners. As a radiologist, you use equipment to identify a patient's ailment. You are responsible for maintaining and calibrating the machines to ensure they deliver accurate results. Having knowledge of imaging and radiology techniques is essential for a fruitful career.

Knowledge of human anatomy

As radiologists spend a significant part of their workday looking over scans of a human body, they require excellent knowledge of human anatomy. This knowledge helps them understand the abnormalities in the scans that can identify the cause of an existing ailment. You cannot perform scans and imaging without prior knowledge of human anatomy.

Communication skills

A radiologist job requires a great deal of communication with patients, doctors and colleagues. These professionals receive instruction from physicians, provide a logical interpretation of their imaging and explain the interpretation to the patient and their family members. This requires excellent communication skills because a radiologist conveys complex information in an understandable manner. For becoming a successful radiologist, you require proficiency in both written and verbal communication skills.

Related: A Guide to the 7 C's of Communication

Stress-management

Often, radiologists work in a high-pressure and fast-paced environment. Based on the number of patients, their work-life balance may suffer, resulting in frustration and stress. So, it is essential for the radiologist to manage their stress levels and deescalate their patients' stress.

Attention to details

These professionals require a strong attention to detail for reading a patient's chart, take notes from the scan and identify potential ailments from the imaging. Due to the complexity of the human body, keen observation skills can result in accurate examination and interpretation of an ailing patient.

Analytical thinking

Often, radiologists use their analytical skills to consult with physicians and patients, identify health problems and evaluate the effectiveness of a treatment plan. They use their analytical thinking to determine a proper diagnosis for a health problem. The ability to analyse what they see and process the information to reach logical conclusions is a desirable skill for this job role.

Dexterity

A radiologist requires dexterity because it helps them use their hands skilfully when operating imaging machines. The equipment these professionals uses require careful operation of small parts such as knobs, buttons and other controls. Some of the imaging processes may require injection into the human body. So, employers prefer candidates with a steady hand to operate the machinery correctly and safely.

Organisational abilities

Excellent organisational abilities help radiologists keep accurate patient records, keep up with appointments and manage their time to ensure they conduct imaging on every customer. As these professionals meet multiple patients, radiologists require maintaining records of every appointment. Also, using their time-management skills, these professionals can schedule and arrive at their appointments without making the patients wait.

Work environment of a radiologist

Most radiologists work in medical centres likes hospitals, nursing homes and private clinics. Others may prefer working in private practices and even in private sectors. They can even work in diagnostic labs. Some radiologists can pursue a non-practising position as academic researchers. Typically, the work schedule of a radiologist is challenging because they may work for long hours in irregular shifts. They may also work on weekends, holidays and night shifts.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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