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Diagnostic radiologists diagnose diseases of the human body using x-rays, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), nuclear medicine and radioactive solutions.
Trainee diagnostic radiologists usually earn
$70K-$175K per year
Qualified diagnostic radiologists usually earn
$175K-$600K per year
Source: Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, 2017
Pay for diagnostic radiologists varies depending on experience, hours, location and frequency of on-call or emergency cover.
- Trainee diagnostic radiologists (registrars) usually earn between $70,000 and $175,000 a year.
- Qualified diagnostic radiologists can earn between $175,000 and $216,000.
- Diagnostic radiologists working in the private sector can earn more than this. Those at the top level can earn up to $600,000.
Source: Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS), '2013 to 2016 National DHB Collective Agreement (MECA)', 2017.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
What you will do
Diagnostic radiologists may do some or all of the following:
- advise doctors on the best examination to perform on a patient
- explain examination procedures to patients and discuss the results with them
- supervise medical radiation technologists when they perform examinations
- interpret images from radiographic examinations
- perform biopsies (taking tissue for diagnosis) from areas such as breasts, liver and kidneys
- teach medical students and trainee radiologists
- carry out research.
Skills and knowledge
Diagnostic radiologists need to have knowledge of:
- anatomy and how the human body works
- different diseases and illnesses
- medicines and treatments, and the effect these have on patients
- how to do minor surgical procedures, such as putting in stitches
- radiographic theory and methods, and the safe handling of unsealed radioactive sources
- research, treatments and practices
- medical ethics and law.
- usually work 40 to 60 hours a week, which may include on-call work during evenings, nights and weekends
- work in hospitals, clinics and private practices, using x-rays, chemicals and radioactive materials
- may travel nationally or overseas for conferences and seminars.
What's the job really like?
Lisa Sweetman finds that radiology suits her perfectly. "My mind works in concrete ways. In radiology you have an x-ray or a CT scan in front of you, so you can see that there's either something abnormal in the film, or there's not," she says.
Radiology is about solving puzzles
"We consider the patient's history and their x-rays to find the cause of a patient's problem, but it's always important to keep an open mind about the patient's condition. You have to be able to think laterally and solve puzzles. There are lots of weird things that happen to the human body but we now have the technology to see these things. You can be amazed at the size of tumours. One man had an extremely large testicular tumour that was invading over the abdominal wall."
Almost every speciality needs to use radiological imaging, says Lisa, so all kinds of specialists will ring up and ask for advice about scans or x-rays. "In the hospital the vast majority of the work is cancer-related and we deal with patients of all ages."
A medical job you can create a life around
Lisa enjoys the lifestyle that working in radiology offers. "It's definitely very easy to have children and work in radiology. You can work part time and you don't have to come in after hours unless you're on call."
To become a diagnostic radiologist you need to:
- complete the Health Sciences First Year programme at Otago University, or the first year of either the Bachelor of Health Sciences or Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science at Auckland University
- complete a five-year Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) degree at Otago or Auckland University
- work for two years as a house officer (supervised junior doctor) in a hospital
- complete another six years as a registrar with specialist training and examinations to become a Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists.
You also need to be registered with the Medical Council of New Zealand.
- University of Otago website - information about the Health Sciences First Year programme
- University of Otago website - information about the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery
- University of Auckland website - information about the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery
- Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists website - information about diagnostic radiology training
- Medical Council of New Zealand website - information about training
The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 means that if you have certain serious convictions, you can’t be employed in a role where you are responsible for, or work alone with, children.
A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training. Useful subjects include biology, chemistry, English, maths and physics.
Diagnostic radiologists need to be:
- accurate and careful, with an eye for detail
- motivated and disciplined
- able to work well under pressure
- able to make good decisions, and solve problems
- excellent at analysis and interpretation
- good at communicating and inspiring confidence in others
- good at report writing
- understanding of other cultures' attitudes to medical procedures.
Useful experience for diagnostic radiologists includes:
- work as a medical radiation technologist
- work in hospitals or other health-related work, such as nursing
- work caring for people.
Diagnostic radiologists need to have good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses). They also need to have excellent hand-eye co-ordination as they often use images on a screen to guide catheters (narrow tubes) through the body.
Diagnostic radiologists need to be registered with the Medical Council of New Zealand.
Find out more about training
- Medical Council of New Zealand
- 0800 286 801 - www.mcnz.org.nz
- Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists
- (04) 472 6470 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.ranzcr.edu.au
What are the chances of getting a job?
Chances of getting a job as a diagnostic radiologist are good because there is a shortage of workers due to:
- not enough diagnostic radiologists being trained
- an ageing population with more health problems
- diagnostic radiologists moving to overseas positions.
Diagnostic radiologist appears on Immigration New Zealand's long-term skill shortage list. This means the Government is actively encouraging skilled diagnostic radiologists from overseas to work in New Zealand.
According to the Census, 435 diagnostic radiologists worked in New Zealand in 2018.
Diagnostic radiologists work for public and private hospitals
Most diagnostic radiologists work in public or private hospitals. Some work in university medical schools.
- Careerforce, 'Young People Needed to Combat Health Sector Shortage', 5 May 2017, (www.careerforce.org.nz).
- Chambers, C, Dr., 'Burnout in New Zealand's Senior Medical Profession', October 2016, (www.asms.org.nz).
- Immigration New Zealand, 'Long Term Skill Shortage List', 19 February 2018, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
- Keene, L, 'International Medical Migration: How Can New Zealand Compete as Specialist Shortages Intensify?', 2017, (www.asms.org.nz).
- Medical Council of New Zealand, 'The New Zealand Medical Workforce', 2014, accessed March 2017, (www.mcnz.org.nz).
- Ministry of Health, 'Health of the Health Workforce 2015', 15 February 2016, (www.health.govt.nz).
- Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
- The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists, Faculty of Radiation Oncology, 'The Radiation Oncology Workforce in New Zealand: Projecting Supply and Demand 2012-2022', 21 February 2013, (www.ranzcr.edu.au).
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
Progression and specialisations
Diagnostic radiologists may progress to teach students and trainee diagnostic radiologists. They can also become a senior consultant with responsibility for their department, or combine their duties with research or teaching.
Diagnostic radiologists may also specialise in an area such as:
- Cardiovascular Radiologist
- Cardiovascular radiologists specialise in heart and blood vessel imaging.
- Mammographers specialise in breast imaging.
- Musculoskeletal Radiologist
- Musculoskeletal radiologists specialise in imaging muscles and bones.
- Neuroradiologists specialise in brain imaging.
- Paediatric Radiologist
- Paediatric radiologists specialise in imaging for children and babies.
Last updated 15 September 2020