The average radiologist salary is $419,000, according to Medscape’s 2019 Compensation Report.
Radiologists are amongst the highest-paid medical specialists. Your salary as a radiologist can vary based on your education, where you live, and the industry in which you work.
Top-Paying Industries for Radiologists
The highest-paying industries for physicians in the category that includes radiologists (BLS)—and their relative average salaries—are below:
- Offices of Dentists – $267,830
- Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing – $258,920
- Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories – $253,610
- Employment Services – $248,910
- Residential Intellectual and Developmental Disability, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse Facilities – $239,190
Top Employers for Radiologists
If you’re a physician who falls into this designation, you’re most likely to find employment in the following industries, according to the BLS:
- Offices of Physicians
- General Medical and Surgical Hospitals
- Federal Executive Branch
- Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools
- Outpatient Care Centers
According to the Medscape Compensation Report, the top employers of radiologists (by a wide margin) are hospitals. It breaks down the top industries in which radiologists work by percentage:
- Hospital – 55%
- Office-Based Single-Specialty Group Practice – 15%
- Academic (nonhospital), Research, Military, Government – 8%
- Healthcare Organization – 7%
- Office-Based Solo Practice – 3%
- Outpatient Clinic – 2%
Top-Paying States for Radiologists
The states that pay physicians in the OES category that includes radiologists are below, along with their respective average physician salaries:
- New Hampshire – $275,840
- North Dakota – $266,510
- Maine – $257,550
- Montana – $247,260
- Minnesota – $245,040
Self-Employed vs. Employed Radiologists
As with other medical specialties, radiologists have the option to work for themselves or work as an employee. Similar to most other medical specialties, self-employed radiologists earn higher salaries, on average:
- Self-Employed Average Radiologist Salary: $451,000
- Employed Average Radiologist Salary: $391,000
Medscape found that self-employed radiologists were older on average than employed radiologists. Because these older physicians have had more time to establish themselves in their careers, their overall higher age may account in part for their higher average salary.
Self-employed radiologists include radiologists who own and operate solo practices, as well as those who own group practices, and those who are partners or co-owners.
Self-Employed Radiologist Overhead Costs
As a self-employed radiologist, you’re tasked with the responsibilities of a business owner, as well as those of a physician. One of those responsibilities is paying overhead costs, like rent and supplies, which can eat into your personal salary:
- Radiologists who owned their own solo practice reported that 32% of their revenue went towards overhead expenses (not included in salary).
- Those who owned group practices reported overhead expenses that accounted for 27% of their revenue.
- Partners (co-owners) reported that 15% of their total revenue went towards overhead expenses.
However, the costs of operating a practice still allow for a higher average salary than that of an employed radiologist.
Average Radiologist Salary vs. Radiology Tech Salary
If you want to go into radiology, you have two choices: become a radiologist or become a radiology tech. While the two may sound similar, they actually require very different education and result in vastly different salaries.
While the average radiologist salary is well into six figures, the BLS reports an average radiologic technologist salary of $61,540. This salary is still above the national average salary for all occupations ($51,960), but it’s well below what their radiologist counterparts can expect to earn.
Radiologic Technologist Duties and Education
If you’ve ever required medical imaging, the person you interacted with was probably a radiologic technologist. Radiologic techs are trained to operate medical imaging machines, including x-ray, MRI, and CT.
As a radiologic technologist, you would take patient histories and administer any necessary pre-treatments. You would then conduct the ordered scans, making sure the images came out perfectly.
To become a radiologic technologist, you need the following education and experience:
- Earn an associate’s degree.
- Earn a passing score on state certification exams.
- Optionally, go on to earn a bachelor’s degree to specialize in specific imaging technologies (like MRI).
Radiologist Duties and Education
After the radiologic technologist interacts with the patient and captures the required images, a radiologist steps in to examine the data and prescribe next steps.
Radiologists have the training and education necessary to interpret the complex images provided by the radiologic tech.
As a radiologist, you would also diagnose the patient and recommend possible modes of treatment based on the imaging results.
To become a radiologist (and to get paid as one of the highest-earning medical specialists in the field), you must complete the following education and training:
- Earn your undergraduate degree.
- Enter medical school.
- Obtain your medical degree.
- Complete a four-year residency in radiology.
- Optionally, specialize in specific medical imaging technologies or specific body systems, like the brain.
- Become board certified.
Average Radiologist Salary vs. Other Medical Specialties
A useful tool for understanding the average radiologist salary is comparing it to different medical specialty salaries. We can also look at specialists’ average net worth to gain insight into who is best able to overcome medical school debt to earn more significant take-home pay.
Richest Medical Specialists: Average Annual Salaries
Specialist physicians, including radiologists, earn higher salaries than primary care physicians. The average specialist physician salary is $284,000, according to Medscape’s Physician Compensation Report 2019. The average primary physician salary is $195,000.
Some specialists earn more than others. Radiology came in sixth place out of the 29 specialties Below is a detailed look at how the average radiologist salary stacks up to other specialist salaries:
- Orthopedics – $482,000
- Plastic Surgery – $471, 000
- Otolaryngology – $461,000
- Cardiology – $430,000
- Dermatology – $419,000
- Radiology – $419,000
- Gastroenterology – $417,000
- Urology – $408,000
- Anesthesiology – $392,000
- Ophthalmology – $366,000
- Surgery, General – $362,000
- Oncology – $359,000
- Emergency Medicine – $353,000
- Critical Care – $349,000
- Pulmonary Medicine – $331,000
Richest Medical Specialists: Highest and Lowest Specialist Net Worths
Radiologists are amongst the highest-earning physicians in the United States. This reflected in the average radiologist salary discussed above, as well as in the self-reported net worth of radiologists nation-wide.
In its Wealth and Debt Report for 2019, Medscape reports the percentage of physicians in each field whose net worths were over $5 million and those whose net worths were under $500,000. Again, radiologists came in near the top of the list.
Radiologists were also the least likely have net worths under $500,000, with only 10% of radiologists stating their net worth as lower than half a million.
Medical Specialist Net Worth
Net worth over $5 million – 20% | Net worth under $500K -16%
Net worth over $5 million – 19% | Net worth under $500K – 28%
- Plastic Surgery
Net worth over $5 million – 18% | Net worth under $500K – 21%
Net worth over $5 million – 18% | Net worth under $500K – 18%
Net worth over $5 million – 17% | Net worth under $500K – 26%
Net worth over $5 million – 16% | Net worth under $500K – 16%
Net worth over $5 million – 14% | Net worth under $500K – 20%
Net worth over $5 million – 13% | Net worth under $500K -18%
Net worth over $5 million – 11% | Net worth under $500K – 25%
- Allergy & Immunology
Net worth over $5 million – 10% | Net worth under $500K – 25%
Net worth over $5 million – 10% | Net worth under $500K – 25%
Net worth over $5 million – 10% | Net worth under $500K – 22%
Net worth over $5 million – 10% | Net worth under $500K – 26%
Net worth over $5 million – 10% | Net worth under $500K – 25%
- Surgery, General
Net worth over $5 million – 8% | Net worth under $500K – 24%
Radiologist Career Satisfaction
A high salary is a critical deciding factor for physicians who are choosing a specialty. But it’s essential to weigh your earning potential against your career satisfaction in the specialty you choose. Luckily for radiologists, the two appear to go hand-in-hand.
For the Medscape Compensation Report, radiologists were asked about how many hours they worked each week, how much time they spent with patients vs. doing paperwork, and what they found most rewarding or challenging about their careers.
Overall, radiologists were highly satisfied with their choice of career: 74% responded that they would choose medicine as a career if they had the decision to make over again, and 92% said they would choose the same specialty again.
Of all 30 specialties covered in the report, radiologists tied for third place (alongside dermatology and pathology) for the providers who most answered “yes” when asked if they felt fairly compensated for their work.
- Radiologist Job Challenges
The highest percentage of radiologists (25%) responded that the most challenging part of their job was “having so many rules and regulations.”
Tied for second place (both with 20% of responses) were “having to work long hours” and “worrying about being sued.”
- Radiologist Job Rewards
The highest percentage of radiologists (49%) answered that the most rewarding part of their job was “being very good at what I do/finding answers, diagnoses.”
In second place (with 20% of responses) was “making good money at a job that I like.”
Is the Average Radiologist Salary Worth the Medical School Debt?
One of the biggest obstacles to becoming a radiologist is the prospect of paying for college and taking on a significant amount of medical school debt.
The average medical school debt is in the hundreds of thousands, which can deter even those who plan to enter a high-paying specialty like radiology.
The good news is, radiologist are amongst the specialists who can pay off their debt more quickly.
Of Medscape respondents for the 2019 Wealth and Debt Report, just 19% stated that they were still paying down their student debt from medical school.
Compare this to the 33% of emergency physicians who were still paying their debt.
The specialty with the lowest percentage of respondents still working on med school debt was gastroenterology at 14%.
As mentioned above, radiologists had one of the highest percentages of respondents whose net worths were over $5 million and the lowest percentage of respondents whose net worths were under $500,000.
Because net worth accounts for assets minus debts, this speaks to the relative ease with which radiologists pay back their medical school debt compared to other medical specialties.
Radiologist Career Outlook
The medical career as a whole is projected to grow steadily over the coming years, due to the aging Baby Boomer population.
The BLS estimates a job growth of 13% for physicians and surgeons, which is faster than the average growth for all occupations. Between 2016 and 2026, the BLS estimates an increase of about 91,400 new jobs for physicians and surgeons in the U.S.
The average radiologist salary has also increased in recent years, and it is expected to continue to do so. In just the past year, the average radiologist salary has increased from $401,000 to $419,000, according to Medscape data.
Average Radiologist Salary Bottom Line
If you’re interested in a tech-centered career in healthcare that offers one of the highest salaries available, radiology is one of your best options.
While you’re required to invest significantly—both financially and in terms of your time—the rewarding field of radiology is one of the specialties that can offer the best return on your investment.
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