How to Become a Pediatric Radiologist

Jan 02, 2019

Learn how to become a pediatric radiologist. Research the career requirements, training and licensure information, and experience required for starting a career in pediatric radiology. View article »

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Video Transcript

Could I Be a Pediatric Radiologist?

Pediatric radiologists use X-rays, computer tomography, and other radioactive methods to diagnose and treat diseases, illnesses, and injuries in young children. The majority of pediatric radiologists work full-time. Those that are employed by 24-hour care centers, like hospitals, may work evenings, nights, and/or weekends. Radiologists must wear protective gear and clothing in order to prevent themselves from being exposed to radiation. They work long hours on their feet and may be exposed to unrelated infectious diseases due to patient contact. Pediatric radiologists usually undergo 14 years of training, including undergraduate, medical school, clinical, residency, and fellowship training.

Career Requirements

Degree Level M.D.
Degree Field(s) Medicine
License and/or Certification Medical license and voluntary certification in diagnostic radiology and pediatric radiology
Experience Five or more years of clinical training/residency/fellowship
Key Skills Communication, compassion, problem solving, good judgement, needs experience with medical records, medical imaging and communication software, must have understanding of diagnostic imaging machines and results
Median Salary (2016)* $286,902 (for radiologists)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Board of Radiology, O*Net Online, *

Steps to Become a Pediatric Radiologist

Step 1: Earn an Undergraduate Degree

To qualify for a medical school program, a student typically needs a bachelor's degree. Though most schools don't require a specific major, a program that includes courses in biology, organic chemistry, physics, and mathematics could prove beneficial.

It is important to keep your grades high. Medical school admissions boards are very selective. Among chief considerations for admission are your undergraduate transcripts; thus, having a high grade point average could help you stand out to board members.

You will also want to engage in extracurricular activities. Medical schools seek students who have a strong record of extracurricular activities and who exhibit leadership qualities. Taking part in campus clubs and other organizations and assuming top positions in those groups could also give you a leg up on your medical school competition.

Step 2: Take the MCAT

All medical schools require candidates to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). This standardized exam measures students' science knowledge, critical-thinking, and problem-solving skills, in addition to their writing abilities.

Step 3: Complete Medical School

Prospective pediatric radiologists must complete four years of medical school to be eligible for licensure. In addition to classroom work, students go through several clinical rotations to gain practical experience in the medical field. You'll want to look for a program that offers clinical opportunities in diagnostic radiology or pediatrics. Acquiring hands-on experience in either field can be useful for a prospective pediatric radiologist and may aid in finding future job opportunities.

Step 4: Acquire Medical License

To practice as a physician, an individual must acquire a medical license. Licensing requirements vary by state, but all medical doctors must pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination or a similar exam as part of the licensing procedure.

Step 5: Complete Clinical Training and a Diagnostic Radiology Residency

Students who eventually plan to seek voluntary certification in diagnostic radiology through the American Board of Radiology (ABR) must complete a year of clinical training followed by an approved 4-year residency program. The residency must include at least four months of study in nuclear medicine and 12 months of study in mammography. Additionally, residents can only spend 16 months studying any one discipline during this 4-year period.

Step 6: Earn Board Certification in Diagnostic Radiology

Residents can begin testing for initial certification in diagnostic radiology while in the midst of their residency program. This includes taking computer-based cognitive exams, a physics exam, and a clinical exam. The final test, which is an oral exam, is completed after the residency. Certification candidates also must be licensed physicians, have cardiac life support certification, and demonstrate moral and ethical standards.

Step 7: Complete a Fellowship Program and Gain Experience

Those who wish to go on to earn ABR subspecialty certification in pediatric radiology must complete an approved 1-year fellowship program in pediatric radiology. They also must gain a year of experience, at least 1/3 of which must be spent practicing pediatric radiology.

Step 8: Earn Board Certification in Pediatric Radiology

In addition to meeting fellowship and experience requirements, those applying for subspecialty certification in pediatric radiology must hold a valid medical license and ABR certification in diagnostic radiology. They also must pass an exam.

Step 9: Consider Further Career Advancement

Pediatric radiologists are already at an advanced level in their field, but may still have some opportunities for advancement. Those with solid experience may take a job with a university or teaching hospitals where they may teach radiology students and also work more on the research side of radiology.

Pediatric radiologists use radioactive methods to diagnose and treat young children. They have 14 years of training, which includes earning their doctorate degrees in medicine. They are compassionate, with good judgement and problem-solving abilities, and they earn a median annual salary of $286,902.

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