Radiologist Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Radiologist, or Radiographer, is responsible for using specialized medical imaging equipment to determine a patient’s internal injuries or illnesses. Their duties include meeting with patients and talking with them about the types of tests they’ll complete like MRIs or CT scans, operating medical imaging equipment and communicating with Physicians about their findings to determine patient needs.d

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Radiologist duties and responsibilities

Radiologists are specialists who use medical imaging techniques to diagnose and treat injuries and diseases. They are responsible for the following day-to-day duties:

  • Reviewing and interpreting medical images to determine patient status and future medical care
  • Determining the exact images required for diagnosis and delivering orders to Radiological Technicians
  • Administering trace amounts of radioactive substances to create and enhance diagnostic images
  • Performing minimally invasive surgical techniques such as embolization, angioplasty and ablation with image guidance 
  • Working with Primary Care Doctors, Nurses and Radiology Technicians to administer treatment and manage pain
  • Monitoring patient progress and adjusting treatment plans as necessary
  • Creating a radiation treatment plan for patients with cancer
  • Managing radiation side effects in cancer patients
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Radiologist Job Description Examples

What does a Radiologist do?

Radiologists typically work for hospitals, specialty care clinics and other healthcare facilities to assist other Medical Doctors in diagnosing patient conditions. They work closely with other radiology professionals and Equipment Technicians to complete x-rays in a timely manner. Their job is to calibrate medical imaging equipment, clean surfaces after each appointment, send images and videos to the patient’s Physician and make sure patients feel comfortable before and during x-rays. They may also be responsible for identifying mishaps with equipment and scheduling equipment repairs.

Radiologist skills and qualifications

In order to excel on the job and handle the necessary daily responsibilities, Radiologists should have a strong set of skills, including the following:

  • Advanced medical and anatomical skills
  • Knowledge of general surgery practices
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills
  • Strong motor skills and manual dexterity
  • Ability to work long and irregular hours
  • Advanced analytical skills and attention to detail
  • Ability to remain calm and focused in stressful situations
  • Organizational and time management skills

Radiologist salary expectations

The average Radiologist salary in the United States is $227,818 per year. This salary may vary based on a candidate’s years of experience, board certification, completion of specialty fellowships and educational background.

Radiologist education and training requirements

Radiologists must have a bachelor’s degree in pre-medicine, biology or a related field and a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DOM) degree from a four-year medical school. They must pass multiple licensing examinations and complete a residency in radiology to practice medicine in your specific state. Many employers also look for candidates who have taken examinations to become board certified in radiology by the American Board of Medical Specialists. Radiologists who practice radiology subspecialties such as nuclear medicine must also complete fellowships in their chosen subspecialties.

Radiologist experience requirements

Radiologists can be hired after earning their license to practice medicine and completing their residency programs. Many employers prefer that candidates have several years of work experience before they are hired, though some believe that the on-the-job experience they gained in their residency is enough. Applicants who have specialized in a certain area of radiology should have extensive training and experience in that subspecialty.

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Frequently asked questions about Radiologists


What is the difference between a Radiologist and a Sonographer?

The difference between a Radiologist and a Sonographer is the methods they use to create images and the types of patients they see. For example, Radiologists use equipment and other technology that permeates electromagnetic radiation. The radiation helps reflect internal bodily structures that allow Radiologists to create medical images. In contrast, Sonographers use equipment that produces sound waves at high frequencies. The sound waves bounce off of internal structures, creating images without the need for radiation. 

Both Radiologists and Sonographers can help diagnose or check on the progress of cancerous activities, fractures or other illnesses. However, Radiologists are more likely to examine head conditions and Sonographers are more likely to conduct ultrasounds for pregnant women.


What are the daily duties of a Radiologist?

On a typical day, a Radiologist starts by reviewing their appointment schedule. They turn on x-ray equipment and review Physician reports to learn more about each patient and their needs. Throughout the day, they greet patients and speak with them about what to expect during the x-ray. Radiologists conduct MRIs, CT scans and other procedures to produce a variety of images for further analysis. 

After each appointment, Radiologists review images and write reports to highlight their recommended diagnoses. They then send these reports to the patient’s Physician and make themselves available to speak with them about the images in more detail.


What qualities make a good Radiologist?

A good Radiologist has a personable nature and empathy for others, allowing them to help patients feel relaxed and well cared for when getting x-rayed for unknown conditions. They value continued education and practice using equipment or new x-ray technologies to enhance their professional capabilities. Further, a good Radiologist has excellent attention to detail. This quality helps them identify hairline fractures, tumors, blood cots, concussions and other conditions that could harm a patient if left unnoticed. 

A good Radiologist also has excellent written and verbal communication, enabling them to write comprehensive reports and engage in frequent communications with Physicians and other medical personnel.


Who does a Radiologist report to?

A Radiologist usually reports to one or more Physicians at their workplace. This is because they have to provide them with a written report and x-ray images to help them make decisions about their patients’ health. Physicians typically request a Radiologist to perform an x-ray or ultrasound for their patient. Radiologists can also report to the Chief Radiologist, or Senior Radiologist, to get their opinion on a patient’s x-ray results.

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