Radiology Careers

Learn more about the many career paths of radiology! Begin your journey here.
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Tyler Epps
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Tyler Epps is an editor for BestColleges. He writes and edits content about higher education, specializing in degree planning and college rankings. He is passionate about helping students prepare for college and navigate their educational journey. He...
Updated on April 3, 2024
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Rebecca Long is a copy editor for BestColleges. She has nearly a decade of editorial experience, including writing and editing. As a freelance journalist, her work has been published in The Boston Globe, The Guardian, Slate, and others. She has also ...
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Considering stepping into the world of radiology? A career in radiology can offer you a stable and rewarding profession in healthcare, with many avenues for advancement.

Whether you're drawn to the technical aspects of the work or the opportunity to make a difference in patient care, a career in radiology can be a fulfilling choice. But what exactly is radiology, and what do these professionals do?

An allied health profession, radiology is a field that involves medical imaging and diagnostic tests. Radiologic technologists, for example, operate X-rays, prepare patients for procedures, and work closely with physicians and other technologists.

Many entry-level radiology careers only require an associate degree and offer attractive salaries exceeding $60,000 per year.

This guide provides insight into a dozen radiology careers, including their educational requirements and typical salaries.

Featured Online Radiology Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

How to Start Your Career in Radiology

Starting a radiology career looks different depending on the specific role you're aiming for. If you're considering a career as a radiologic technologist, an associate degree in radiologic technology is usually sufficient for most positions.

Upon finishing an educational program accredited by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), you become eligible to take the certification exam.

If your goal is to become a radiologist assistant, you'll first need to acquire your bachelor's and master's degrees through ARRT-accredited programs. These programs include clinical experiences and prepare you to take the certification exam required to become a registered radiologist assistant (RRA). If you're striving to become a radiologist, which is a medical position, you'll need to complete a pre-medical undergraduate program, attend medical school, pass your medical licensing exams, complete a residency, and take your certification exams.

12 Radiology Careers You Can Pursue

Below are 12 career paths you can pursue after completing a radiology program, along with their education requirements and salary information.

Associate Degree in Radiology

An associate degree in radiology, or radiologic sciences, is a two-year educational pathway that trains you to operate diagnostic imaging equipment like X-rays, MRI machines, and other specialized medical equipment. Associate programs typically require students to complete 60 credits.

Upon completing an associate program, you'll be prepared for a career in various healthcare environments, such as hospitals and clinics, where you can work as a radiographer, nuclear medicine technologist, diagnostic medical sonographer, and more.

MRI Technologist

As an MRI technologist, you'll be operating MRI scanners to create diagnostic images per physicians' directions. You'll interact with patients, explain the procedure, and ensure their comfort during scans.

You'll also prepare and administer contrast dyes, perform equipment inspections, schedule maintenance, and position patients for scans.

  • Median Salary (May 2022): $80,090

X-Ray Technologist

As an X-ray technologist, your role involves examining patients using various medical imaging technologies, applying safety protocols to minimize radiation exposure, and maintaining and calibrating radiologic equipment.

You'll need to have strong communication skills to relay procedure information and have a good understanding of medical terminology and anatomy.

  • Median Salary (May 2022): $65,140

Nuclear Medicine Technologist

As a nuclear medicine technologist, you'll perform tests for diagnosis and medical research.

Your duties will include preparing and administering radioactive drugs for patients, operating high-level imaging equipment to capture images of radioactive materials in the body, and administering doses of radiation internally to treat conditions.

  • Median Salary (May 2022): $85,300

Radiation Therapist

As a radiation therapist, you'll administer radiation treatments to patients with cancer and other diseases.

You typically work under the guidance of oncologists, handling the radiation equipment, pinpointing treatment areas, and monitoring patients' conditions. Radiation therapists usually work in settings like hospitals and outpatient centers.

  • Median Salary (May 2022): $89,530

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

As a diagnostic medical sonographer, you'll use specialized imaging equipment, like ultrasounds, to create images of various parts of the body. These images are crucial in helping doctors diagnose and treat medical conditions.

You'll be responsible for operating imaging equipment, reviewing images for quality, and summarizing your findings to physicians or other health professionals.

  • Median Salary (May 2022): $81,350
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Bachelor's Degree in Radiology

A bachelor's degree in radiology takes four years to earn and provides you with advanced skills in the field of medical imaging. Throughout the program, you'll receive comprehensive training in a variety of imaging modalities, including general radiography, vascular imaging, computerized tomography (CT), MRI, and sonography.

The program is designed to equip you to thrive in diverse healthcare settings and promotes the development of critical thinking and communication skills. You may also have the option to focus on specific areas, such as MRI, CT, mammography, or leadership in radiology.

Most programs require 120 credits and require four years of full-time study to complete the degree requirements. Upon graduation, you'll be eligible to sit for national certification exams and may choose to pursue careers in radiology management, education, or advanced clinical practice.

Radiology Manager

Radiology managers oversee and synchronize the operations and functions of the radiology department. They implement policies and procedures, monitor department activities for performance improvement, and ensure compliance with healthcare regulations.

Moreover, as a radiology manager, you'll have supervisory responsibilities over staff, handling tasks such as interviewing, hiring, and training.

Ultrasound Supervisor

As an ultrasound supervisor, you'll operate under the guidance of a physician, overseeing the daily operations of the sonography department. Your role will encompass monitoring the performance of technicians, hiring and training staff members, and maintaining schedules.

This role provides an excellent opportunity to apply your leadership skills within a clinical setting, ensuring the delivery of high-quality patient care.

Source: Payscale

Master's Degree in Radiology

Master's degree programs in radiology prepare students for specialist roles in the radiology field. A master's program in radiology typically requires completing 30-60 credit hours and includes a combination of didactic courses and practical experience.

With this degree, you're set on the path to becoming a clinical educator or a radiology assistant. Licensure and registration requirements for radiology assistants vary by state, but certification through ARRT is common and often necessary for practice.

Clinical Educator

As a clinical educator in radiology, you play a pivotal role in supporting students in their learning, ensuring they gain the necessary experience and skills. You'll be expected to maintain high-quality clinical training and stay up to date with advancements in the field.

Moreover, you'll offer academic support to students, provide guidance and feedback, and encourage learning from mistakes. It's a challenging role, but as a clinical educator, you become an essential link in bridging the gap between theory and practice.

Radiologist Assistant

Stepping into a role as a Radiologist Assistant (RA), you'll be an advanced practice radiologic technologist who enhances patient care. This is done by assisting radiologists with patient assessment, patient management, and performing select clinical procedures.

As an RA, you make initial observations of diagnostic images, but you don't provide official written interpretations. To become an RA, you need to be an ARRT-certified radiographer and have completed a master's program along with a radiologist-directed clinical preceptorship.

Source: Payscale

Doctoral Degree in Radiology

A doctoral degree in radiology is the most advanced credential available in the radiology field. Ph.D.s in radiology are research-intensive programs, and you can expect to delve deep into the study of radiation, ultrasound, and other imaging techniques used in the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses. Other students may choose to apply to medical school to pursue an MD to become a radiologist.

Most doctoral programs take between 4-8 years of full-time study to complete. And those who want to become physicians must also participate in internships and residency and take licensing exams, adding years to that timeline. Upon graduating, you'll be prepared for careers in scientific research, education, or advanced clinical practice.


As a radiologist, you'll be a medical professional who specializes in diagnosing and treating injuries and diseases using various medical imaging techniques. Your day-to-day activities will involve using tools like X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and nuclear tests to capture accurate images of the body's organs and tissues for precise diagnosis.

You'll work closely with other doctors and medical specialists, providing advice and interpretation of imaging results to help in creating effective treatment plans.

Postsecondary Teacher (Health)

As a postsecondary teacher, you'll have the rewarding task of teaching aspiring health or radiology technologists both the practical and theoretical aspects of medical equipment. This may include X-ray machines, MRI machines, and CT scanners.

You'll design curricula to prepare students for the practical aspects of their future roles, ensuring they understand proper laboratory procedures and safety precautions with equipment.

  • Median Salary (May 2022): $80,840

Radiation Oncologist

As a radiation oncologist, you'll specialize in treating cancer patients using radiation therapy. Your role will involve confirming cancer diagnoses and determining suitable treatments. You'll develop comprehensive care plans, monitor patients' progress, and provide pharmacological treatments.

This role requires a medical degree, a completed residency in radiation oncology, and board certification. You'll need to have a deep understanding of radiation therapy procedures and techniques.

Source: BLS and Payscale

Radiology Concentrations

Radiology programs often offer concentrations that allow you to choose a specific radiology career path. For example, two-year colleges may prepare you for careers where you perform MRIs, CAT scans, and X-rays.

Bachelor's programs may allow you to pursue specializations like nuclear medicine and medical imaging. If you decide to pursue a master's degree in radiology, you can choose from more concentrations in areas like education, management, and specific patient populations.

Below are four areas of radiology that you can specialize in.

  1. 1

    Medical Imaging

    Undergraduate programs may offer concentrations in specific types of medical imaging. You learn how to operate MRI, CT, ultrasound, X-ray, and/or radiation therapy equipment. These programs prepare you to work as a technician or continue on to graduate programs.
  2. 2

    Nuclear Medicine

    Nuclear medicine represents the cutting edge of radiology. In this field, you can apply for nuclear radiation technologist or assistant positions, depending on your degree level.
  3. 3

    Radiology Education

    Graduate programs sometimes provide radiology education concentrations to fill the need for radiology educators across the country.
  4. 4

    Radiology Leadership

    Radiology professionals seeking leadership positions can choose this concentration in some graduate programs. In these programs, you study financial management, resource management, evidence-based administration, and information management.

    You can work as a manager, chief technologist, and administrator within radiology organizations.

Why Pursue a Career in Radiology?

Choosing a career in radiology can open up many opportunities for personal and professional growth. With the rising healthcare needs of an aging population, the job outlook for radiologic technologists is promising. This career path can offer you competitive salaries, particularly if you specialize in areas such as nuclear medicine.

Starting a career in radiology doesn't require an extensive educational journey; a two-year associate degree is sufficient for many entry-level positions. The possibilities for professional development in this field are diverse, allowing you to work in various settings, from hospitals to private clinics, and even mobile imaging services.

And if variety is what you're after, radiology delivers. No two days are the same in this field. You'll constantly face new challenges and tasks, keeping your work both interesting and rewarding. The fast-paced nature of the healthcare environment offers you the chance to stay active and engaged while performing essential services that directly benefit patients.

Radiology Career Outlook

According to the BLS, job opportunities for radiation therapists and radiologic technologists are expected to increase by 2% and 6%, respectively, from 2022-2032.

Radiation therapists, in particular, earned a very competitive median salary of $89,530 in 2022, which is nearly double the median salary of all other occupations during the same period ($46,310).

Those who choose to pursue the highest level of education and become radiologists can anticipate high salaries. These medical professionals earned a median annual salary of $239,200 in 2022, according to the BLS.

How to Advance Your Career in Radiology

Professional certifications and continuing education provide pathways to career advancement in radiology. If you already possess an undergraduate degree, you may consider continuing on to graduate-level study.

Getting a graduate degree isn't the only option, though. You can also earn additional credentials through regulatory bodies and field-specific organizations. Training and certification programs in specialized areas of radiology can lead to career growth.

And don't underestimate the importance of getting practical job experience. Gaining experience in the field can facilitate professional advancement, increase your salary, and expand your network.

Continuing Education

Earning professional certificates is one form of continuing education, as is returning to school to earn an advanced degree in radiology. To become a radiologist, for example, you must attend medical school.

The American Society for Radiologic Technologists offers continuing education resources designed to meet the continuing qualifications requirements established by ARRT. The Advanced Health Education Center is a leading provider of healthcare-related continuing education programs, providing online and in-person resources.

Another continuing education option is free online courses provided through websites like Coursera and edX. Coursera classes, provided in conjunction with colleges and universities, can help you stay up-to-date on the latest technological advancements.

Certification and Licensure

State licensure requirements for radiology professionals vary, but earning a degree from a program accredited by an organization like ARRT is crucial. Additional accrediting organizations include the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) and the American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists (ARMRIT).

As the main certifying body in radiology, ARRT offers credentials in 15 different radiology subfields, including mammography and radiation therapy. The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography also offers radiology certifications. The registry's offerings include general credentials in diagnostic medical sonography, cardiac sonography, and musculoskeletal sonography.

The American Board of Radiology also certifies radiologists and medical physicists in diagnostic radiology, interventional radiology, medical physics, and radiation oncology.

Get an Advanced Degree

Earning an advanced degree in radiology can help propel your career and raise your salary. With a master's degree, you could step into radiology assistant (RA) roles. A master's can also position you to lead clinical research, where you can coordinate studies and support radiologists.

Moreover, a master's degree can also prepare you for doctoral study, which can open up even more career possibilities for you. With an MD, you can become a radiologist or radiation oncologist.

Ph.D. programs, on the other hand, can pave the way for opportunities in academia, research, and director roles in the healthcare industry. So, if you're ready to take your radiology career to the next level, an advanced degree in radiology could be your ticket to success.

How to Switch Your Career to Radiology

To transition into a career in radiology, professionals must earn a degree accredited by ARRT, JRCERT, or ARMRIT. Depending on their educational and professional backgrounds, practicing healthcare workers may be able to switch careers by earning a certification in a specific aspect of radiology.

Information technologists, engineers, and computer professionals can also transition to a career in radiology by completing specialized coursework and gaining practical experience.

Featured Online Radiology Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Frequently Asked Questions About Radiology Careers

Where do most radiologic technologists work?

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Radiologic technologists typically work in hospitals, medical labs, doctors' offices, outpatient centers, and private healthcare facilities, where they perform diagnostic imaging exams and support patient care teams.

According to the BLS, the majority (58%) of radiologic technologists are employed by hospitals.

What is the highest-paying job in radiology with an associate degree?

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According to the BLS, radiation therapists hold the highest-paying position in radiology for those with an associate degree, earning a median annual salary of $89,530 in 2022. The top 10% of radiation therapists earned more than $133,000 in 2022.

What skills do you need to be a radiologic technologist?

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Radiologic technologists must have a range of skills, including strong communication for patient care, technical skills for using and maintaining equipment, and computer skills for operating software. As a radiologic technologist, you must also have an understanding of safety protocols to minimize radiation exposure and medical knowledge to produce quality images.

Additionally, stress management, time efficiency, and basic life support skills are important. Education and practical abilities like physical stamina and equipment operation are also key components for success in the field.

Is radiology a good career?

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Yes. The field of radiology offers professionals with all education levels competitive salaries. Diagnostic medical sonographers and radiation therapists are particularly in demand, and these roles only require two years of education.

If you're interested in becoming a radiologist or doctor, you'll need considerably more education but will make a much higher salary. Overall, the work in the field can be rewarding and lucrative but may include long hours and exposure to radiation. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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