The steps you need to take to become a radiologist can be divided into three stages.
Stage 1: The Pre-medical School Program
Your quest to become a radiologist begins with the completion of a four year pre-medical program, which is a bachelor’s degree covering a variety of courses including mathematics, physics, biochemistry, inorganic and organic chemistry. You should ask for advice from the college or university of your choice on the best way to take a pre-medical program – many four-year colleges actually have career counselors who help students with that.
In the second year of your pre-medical school program, you will sit for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) for a place in the medical school. Notice that competition for admission into medical school is very high and so you need to score highly in MCAT to be considered.
Also, you need to boost your chances of admission into medical school by coming out of the pre-medical program with academic honors; conducting medical research, and doing some volunteer work.
Stage 2: The Medical School Program
Having completed the pre-medical program and gained admission into medical school, you are on the right part to becoming a radiologist.
The medical school is a four year program in general medicine. This is not where you become a radiologist, but a step to it. Radiology is a specialist area of medicine (that’s why radiologists are also referred to as physicians), it is after medical school that you can go further to specialize in radiology.
It is important to state here again that becoming a radiologist is highly competitive; therefore, you need to excel academically in your medical school program to get a place for specialist training in residency program.
Making an excellent performance in medical school will also allow you to benefit from top scores on Steps I and II of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).
In the final year of medical school, you will apply to the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) for admission into a four-year diagnostic radiology residency program.
Stage 3: Diagnostic Radiology Residency Program
The third and final stage in the training to become a radiologist is getting admitted into a four year residency program. As a resident radiologist, you will be working under the training and supervision of qualified and experienced radiologists.
Resident radiologists work 60 hours a week on the average and spend some nights on call; and earn $42,000 to $58,000 a year.
At the completion of the program you will become a qualified diagnostic radiologist, which is the first level position for freshly qualified radiologists. You will begin from here to start gathering experience on the job and advancing your career. You can decide to further pursue a 1 to 3 year fellowship in a specialized area such as interventional radiology or neuroradiology.
Licensing and/or Certification
In addition to the educational training needed to qualify as radiologist, most employers also require radiologists to hold board certification to be given job positions.
This video explains how to become a radiologist further.