How Do You Become a Radiologist?


Quick Answer

Becoming a radiologist requires completing a four-year residency in radiology and passing state licensure and board certification exams. Employment in certain subspecialties, such as neuroradiology or interventional radiology, requires an additional 1 to 3 year fellowship. Only top students succeed in gaining a radiology residency because of fierce competition. Success in radiology requires an intense interest and understanding of math and physics.

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Radiologists are in high demand and receive salaries in excess of most doctors. Radiologists in certain subspecialties, such as interventional radiology, are often the only doctor in a region with expertise for certain specialized procedures and command exceptionally lucrative compensation. Interventional radiologists perform surgical procedures under imaging guidance to minimize damage to healthy tissue.

The path to becoming a radiologist begins in undergraduate school. Pre-med students can major in any subject but must complete prerequisites in math, biology, organic and inorganic chemistry, physics and the humanities. Undergraduate students can enhance their chances of being accepted into medical school by receiving high scores on the Medical College Admissions Test, earning academic honors and completing volunteer work related to medicine. During the final year of medical school, students interested in radiology must apply for the four-year diagnostic radiology residency against fierce competition. Residents generally work about 60 hours a week. Completion of the residency qualifies a doctor to take the board certification exam for radiology.

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