How to Become a Radiologist

Many times, students are well aware that they want to be a part of the medical field. The question is what part of the medical field do they want to go into?

There’s a large range of things that you can do within the medical field and it may take you a while to pinpoint exactly what you want to do.

You do have a great deal of time in college to figure out what you are interested in which can carry on to graduate, professional, or medical school.

A lot of times students know they do not want to be a nurse or a doctor and they are not sure where to go from there.

Those seem to be the two main focuses for most people. If they don’t want to be a doctor than they’re going to be a nurse.

However, there are actually many other parts of the medical field and many other jobs like a radiologist. You may be wondering how do you become a radiologist? You are in luck we discuss how to become a radiologist in this article.

It is important to do your research and shadow medical professionals to figure out which area of the medical field you are interested in.

There are so many jobs that people don’t even think about or realize that they could have.


Radiology is a booming field in the medical community.

Many people who go to college realize that they really want to get into radiology and maybe even become a radiologist.

Students who don’t want to go to all of the schoolings to become a radiologist can even become a radiology tech.

There are so many great opportunities within this field. It is a perfect opportunity if you want to work in the medical field without being a doctor, nurse, anesthesiologist, etc.

Anytime that you were going to go to any sort of graduate, professional, or medical school, there are many requirements to go along with it.

Although I said that you have a lot of time to figure out what you want to do.

You still have to make sure that you are fufilling all of your requirements during your undergraduate education.

Many jobs within the medical field including radiology are careers that do require you to have more than just an undergraduate career.

Unless you’re going to be a radiologist technician, you are going to need to go to more schooling than just your undergraduate schooling.

This means you’re going to have to fill these requirements during your four years of undergraduate.

I’m going to talk a little bit about what radiologists do and how to become one. 

What is the role of a Radiologist and what do they do

A radiologist is going to be someone who studies radiology.

Radiology is the discipline within medicine that focuses on using medical imaging to treat and diagnose different diseases within human or animal bodies.

A radiologist is a type of medical doctor that can use radiology to treat not only diseases but also injuries using x-rays.

There are many different types of radiologists. The first type to focus on is a diagnostic radiologist.

This is usually the type of radiologist that comes to mind when you think about this field.

They’re focusing on imaging and using different procedures to see the inside of a body to assess a patient’s condition.

They are an expert consultant to your current physician or doctor that you see. The therapist is able to interpret and report the results to come up with a treatment.

These types of a radiologist can also specialize in certain things.

The main things that diagnostic radiologists specialize in our emergency radiology, chest radiology, breast radiology, cardiovascular radiology, and pediatric radiology.

There are definitely many more types of specializations within diagnostic radiologist send this, but these just happen to be the most popular ones.

The next type of radiologist is an interventional radiologist.

These are the types of radiologist have to focus on using x-rays and MRIs to diagnose and treat patients.

The whole point is to use minimally invasive techniques to get patients where they need to be.

A therapist is also certified to guide instruments through small incisions within a human or animal body to reach the source of any sort of issue.

They can also do this to deliver targeted treatments to the body.


The main conditions that these radiologists deal with our cancer, strokes, heart diseases, and recovery.

The final main type of radiologist as a radiation oncologist. These are the types of radiologists who deal with cancer patients specifically.

They are highly trained and they can prescribe and oversee each individual cancer treatment for each individual patient.

Their main focus is to use radiation therapy to try to treat cancer and then monitor each patient and their progress.

Throughout the time with each patient, they are also able to adjust their different treatment plans using radiology.

They are trained excessively in cancer medicine and see if the use of radiation.

How to become a radiologist and what qualifications do you need?

It is very important that you feel strongly about becoming a radiologist. The path to get into this career is very long.

Although the job is very rewarding, you definitely need to have the want and need to dedicate your life to radiology for quite a while.

The requirements are:

  • You need to have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • An undergraduate degree is needed
  • Graduate from medical school
  • Complete an internship
  • Pass a state licensing exam
  • Complete a residency program within radiology
  • Then pass the boards to become certified as a radiologist

If you were interested in specializing in a specific radiology department, then you need to also complete a specialization fellowship as well.

As you can tell this is quite a long path. The first step to the path of a radiologist is to go to school for your undergraduate degree.


During your undergraduate career, you are going to pick a major that interests you and helps you to fill all of the requirements for medical school.

What this means is that you’re going to have to do a lot of volunteering hours, join a lot of clubs, and take specific classes that are required of you for medical school.


While doing this you’re also going to have to take your MCAT at some point in order to actually get into medical school.

This is a very rigorous test and takes months and months of hardcore studying in order to pass.

You are technically allowed to retake the MCAT many times, although many people advise you not to retake it.

How many times can I take the MCAT

  • You are allowed to take the MCAT up to three times in one year
  • Four times in a two year period
  • Your entire lifetime, you were allowed to take it seven times.

That is why there is so much pressure on the very first time that you take it.

Many people take off work or quit their jobs to study for this test full time before they actually take it.

Some students even take a semester off of school because it is that intense of a test. 

Volunteer/service hours and an MCAT score are required to get into any medical school in the United States.


After this, once you get into medical school, which is a rigorous and competitive process, you’re going to have to complete an internship.

This is basically just you working in the field of radiology as a graduate from medical school.

Once you complete this internship you are going to be required to pass a state licensing exam.

This means you’re going to have to take the time and effort to study and pass his exam.


After this exam is passed, you’re going to complete a residency program in radiology.

A residency is what you do after your postgraduate school or graduate medical education.

You can only participate in a residency if you are a qualified physician of some sort who practices medicine.

It allows you to perform as a licensed practitioner of what you studied under the supervision of an experienced person.

Basically, instead of just hopping right into the field, you are able to with a seasoned doctor.

After you successfully complete this program you are then going to have to study and pass the boards to become a certified radiologist.

Remember that you also need to factor in studying and passing the certifying exam.

What should I major in to become a radiologist?

Like any other graduate or professional school, there is technically no specific major that you have to have in order to be able to get this degree.

You can technically major in whatever you would like in order to get into medical school.

The reason why most people choose science majors is that there are a lot of required science classes that you have to take in order to get into medical school.

These required science classes often times align with required classes from your college or university for specific science majors.

If you take classes for a major that isn’t within these fields, you may have to take some extra time at school in order to finish all the classes that you must take.

With that being said, there are some majors that are more popular than others when it comes to becoming a radiologist.

Many medical professional schools will appreciate students who take a different route.

If you decided to major in something that is different than everyone else it may help you stand out.

This shows that you took the time to learn about something completely new while also taking many science classes on top of that.

This obviously only recommends it if you actually have an interest in another major.

You’re going to be spending four years dedicating your life to a subject. You want to make sure that it is something that you want to do.

Don’t simply major in something just so that you can get a medical school or become a radiologist.

If something happens down the road, you want to be OK with whatever major you are stuck with.

You never know what is going to come up in life, and you may end up deciding that you don’t want to go to medical school after all.

This is why it is so important to make sure that you major in something that you can pivot with career-wise.

Majors to pivot

  • Biochemistry 
  • Chemistry
  • Neuroscience
  • Biology
  • Biomedical engineering
  • Physics
  • Nuclear engineering
  • Mathematics
  • Statistics

Usually, medical school students choose undergraduate majors that tend to be harder.

The classes tend to have a heavy course load. This is to weed out people from the program to see who is serious.

It shows how determined they are and that they can be good students no matter how are the classes or how heavy the course load.

What classes are required for a radiologist?

You have to go to medical school to become a radiologist. The classes will be similar to those students who go to medical school.

Different medical schools are obviously going to require different courses to be taken during your undergraduate career.

This is why it is super important to check out the medical schools that you are interested in when taking undergraduate classes. This way you can make sure that you take all the classes that may be required.

Getting into medical school is very competitive, so you’re definitely going to be applying to many different schools.

The main classes that are required at most medical schools are:

  • General chemistry including a lab
  • Organic chemistry including a lab
  • One year of English
  • Physics including a lab
  • One semester of biochemistry

When a class says that it requires one year that means that you are going to take two semesters of this class.

Basically, if you were going to be taking biology for medical school, you were going to be taking biology one and two.

 This is a lot of required courses, especially if you are not a science major.

So once again, take into consideration that you have all of these for classes that you have to take.

If you look at semester wise, there are at least 11 classes that you have to take to apply to medical school. 

Technically, medical schools do not require you to have volunteer service hours. However, most if not every single applicant has a multitude of volunteer and service hours.

If you want to be able to meet with them and actually get into medical school, then you are going to have to have a lot of volunteer and service hours.

Having any sort of job in the medical field will also help your case as well.

The medical schools suggest that you have no less than 10 to 15 volunteer hours per month while you were an undergraduate student.

This also includes during the summer months when you’re not actually in school.

Medical schools assume that you will be volunteering more during the summers because you should not have classes.

They want you to have given at least six months to any given organization as a volunteer. Schools love to see a long-term commitment to service or volunteering.

It is also recommended to have at least 40 to 50 hours of shadowing before you go to medical school.

This is just a rough estimate of some schools have different requirements and recommendations.

You can always check their website to see what they recommend. Some schools may even say up to 100 hours what other schools may even stay as low as 12 hours.

Look and see which schools you want to go to and what they recommend.


Overall, becoming a radiologist is a great career. However, it takes a very long path and a lot of dedication.

Make sure that you are up to this challenge if you actually start taking the different pads to become a radiologist.

Especially during your undergraduate career, you have a lot of time to figure yourself out.

Many people change their minds, but many people are also driven and stick with their gut to get to the career that they want.

Imagine how exhilarating it has to feel to finish all of that schooling and effort to finally become a radiologist.

You may also like: How to become a radiation therapist

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