What Are the Education Requirements to be a Radiologist?

Are you interested in radiology and want to pursue a career as a radiologist? In this article, we aim to answer how long does it take to become a radiologist and what are the educational requirements. In addition, this article also delves into the career aspects and prospects of a radiologist.

Updated by Sreelekha RK on 13th April 2020

Technically, in order to be eligible to work as a radiologist, you will require some important educational qualifications which include your diploma or school transcripts, an undergraduate degree, residency, training, certificates which indicates that you have cleared a few necessary tests which are discussed further in detail.

Here is an article that gives you a clear idea of what is essentially required to be a good radiologist and also the career aspects are discussed.

Let us begin by knowing who exactly is a radiologist.


Who Is a Radiologist?

They are the medical doctors that practice to be experts in diagnosing and treating injuries and diseases using medical imaging procedures which comes under the discipline of radiology such as X-rays, computed tomography CT scanning, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear medicine, positron emission tomography (PET) and ultrasound.

They finish at least 13 years of training that includes a four-year traditional college, medical school,  and most frequently, an additional one or two-year organizations of very functional training, such as radiation oncology, pediatric radiology, or interventional radiology. 

They are certified by the American Board of Radiology, and they have critical requirements for continuing medical education during their practicing years.

Radiologists use a variety of imaging techniques such as X-ray radiography, Fluoroscopy, Ultrasound, Computerized tomography (CT), Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Positron emission tomography, (PET)Nuclear imaging


What are the educational requirements to be a Radiologist?

Here, we have discussed certain important needs with respect to your academics which are to be considered in order to be a radiologist.

Undergraduate Requirements

  • Before joining a professional school, the student will have to compulsorily complete a four-year bachelor's degree that includes premedical classes. 

  • It is not required to pursue a selective major and the specific course qualifications depend on the choice you make with respect to medical school. 

  • Though, the requirements usually include English, Maths, Biology, Physics and two years of Chemistry, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. 

  • A few colleges will also recommend you to take up humanity and social science courses. 

  • Along with all these requirements, a candidate must take the Medical College Admissions Test without any exception during the spring of their junior year.

Educational School required to be Professional

  • Students who are aiming to be a radiologist will have to complete four years of medical or osteopathic school without any exceptional reasons in order to be qualified as general practitioners. 

  • During the first two academic years, students will have to focus keenly on coursework and effective skills related to medical and medicine. The students will also have to complete clinical rotations during the third and fourth academic years. 

  • For instance, students take classes such as biochemistry and cell structure during the first and second years whereas, during the third year and fourth years, students work under supervision in hospitals, clinics, completing clinical rotations in several specialties that include internal medicine, surgery, and radiology.

Licensing

  • A radiologist must be licensed to practice medicine, and licenses must be renewed periodically. 

  • Radiologists will have to compulsorily fulfill the medical licensing requirements of their state, which usually vary and it depends on the state board. 

  • In general, doctors must graduate from an accredited medical or osteopathic program, complete a residency and pass necessary national exams that include both practical and written portions.

  • In order to earn the license, medical college graduates will have to pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) and Osteopathic physicians will take up the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX), either way, it should be passed and also should meet all the state requirements proposed by the state itself. 

Residency

  • For those of you who want to be radiologists, you will have to complete a minimum of four years of residency after medical school, leading to the total education of yours to at least 12 years in total.

  • Residencies provide exceptional instruction and practice in taking scans, representing images, understanding the effects of radiation and following safe practices. 

  • After residency, radiologists can complete an optional one to two years of assistantship training in order to qualify in a sub-specialty, such as radiation oncology or pediatric radiology. 

  • In order to qualify as board-certified, radiologists must pass examinations from the American Board of Radiology or the American Osteopathic Board of Radiology. 

  • Certification in a sub-specialty requires an additional exam.

Certification

  • Many radiologists are certified through the American Board of Radiology (ABR) or the American Osteopathic Board of Radiology (AOBR). 

  • Board certification is optional but requires continuing education to be maintained.

Skill Development and On Job Training

  • After graduating from medical school, an aspiring radiologist must complete four years of a radiology residency, which is considered to be a combination of master's medical education and paid on the job training. 

  • They complete clinical rotations in different subspecialties of radiology, attend lectures and conduct research. Some of the radiologists then go on to complete additional training so they can further specialize. 

  • 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.

  • The continuous development of new technologies requires extra training so that devices can be used safely and perfectly. It is very common for even superior radiologists with many years of practice to take part in specialized training programs.


Career Aspects

A radiologist's day-to-day job duties that may include reflecting the information gathered through imaging techniques, communicating results with doctors and patients, writing medical reports, and explaining treatment risks, benefits, and alternatives to patients.

A majority of Radiologists’ will work with the designations which are as mentioned below.

  • Diagnostic Radiologists

  • Interventional Radiologists

  • Radiology Technician

  • Radiation Oncologists

A radiologist is required to stay up to date about the latest developments in radiology which can be done through continuing education including online classes and other training programs.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that the employment of all physicians and surgeons is expected to increase by 7% in the decade crossing 2018-2028. The annual average income for a radiologist ranges between $100,000 and $448,000 and it is based on their experience levels.