Challenging and gratifying, radiology technology is a noble career choice for those looking to work in the health care field. It is ranked as the 22nd best job in the health care industry by U.S. News. The United States will see an increase of radiologists in the next five years, with the need for technologists rising by nearly 10 percent.

There are many ways to become a radiology technician. A standard bachelor’s degree, radiology certificate, master’s program and associate’s degree in radiology or applied sciences can each provide a path to working in this fascinating medical field. The best schools for radiology provide many ways to receive hands-on experience as well as a well-rounded curriculum.

What Is a Radiologist?

A radiologist is a critical member of the health care team. They are required to use X-ray machines as well as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed technology (CT) generators. A radiology technologist assists the physicians and fellow radiologists who read the image to diagnose injury or serious illness.

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There are many areas where a radiologist can flourish. Medical niches that use a radiology technician include

  • cardiovascular radiology 
  • breast imaging
  • neuroradiology
  • musculoskeletal radiology 
  • emergency radiology

As the industry and technology grow, a radiologist will need to keep up with the latest changes in order to stay relevant in the field. Radiation oncologists are considered medical doctors if they have an advanced degree in radiology. Aside from assisting with diagnosis, a radiation oncologist can also treat a diagnosed disease or cancer with radiation.

What a Radiology Degree Does

After graduation, a radiology degree can help the student find a position in a number of areas. A graduate from one of the best colleges for radiology is ready to apply for ultrasound technician, MRI tech, X-Ray tech and CT tech jobs. Some radiologists are ready to specialize in diagnostic imaging techniques, such as ultrasound or mammography, depending on the course of study they choose while attending school.

How Much Do Radiologists Earn?

With the advancement of radiologic technology, there will be a greater need for those who can perform the task and discern the results. This will make the field more lucrative. There is an immediate demand for educated radiologic technologists in clinics, private physician’s offices and hospitals, as well as urgent care medical centers and stand-alone medical facilities. A radiologist can expand outside of the medical office place to equipment sales because of the experience.

Currently, educated entry-level radiology technicians can expect to make $200,000 annually. As the demand for radiologists grows, so will the yearly income. An average hourly wage of approximately $100 can be expected for new graduates and more if they have earned a master’s degree in radiology.

How Many Years of College Do You Need?

A qualified program at one of the best radiology schools can put you firmly on the path to becoming a radiologist in the shortest amount of time. A radiologist needs a lot of formal education. While earning a bachelor’s degree, many hopeful radiologists volunteer in a medical setting to gain experience. Most radiologists need:

  • A degree from a four-year college, preferably in pre-med
  • A medical school degree 
  • A completed residency in radiology, which typically take four years

Best Colleges for Radiology

The best colleges for radiology can provide a solid foundation to complete the required certification to work in the state you reside in or medical facility you have set your sights on. The minimum to work in the growing field is a four-year medical school degree, a radiology residency program and a one-year internship. Often, the internship needs to be completed before the residency.

Harvard Medical School

It is consistently named one of the best colleges for radiology. Harvard Medical School has a 715-count medical student body and enrolls the largest group of medical school applicants annually. This makes it competitive and costly. The grueling course load can run $60,000 a year.

It has associations with hospitals that have top radiology residency rankings. Harvard Medical School trains students just entering the radiology field as well as doctors and nurses who want to add a radiology degree to their training. The school covers a wide swath of radiology technology, from the complicated nuclear medicine to X-ray technology.

School of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University

With less than 500 students enrolled full-time, the School of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University has a favorable faculty to student ratio of 4.7 to one. The school, which is consistently rated as number two in the country, uses the Genes to Society Curriculum. This pairs the student’s class studies with real-time clinical experience on a quarterly basis, which students say is a great benefit to their course work.

The four colleges, Nathans, Taussig, Thomas and Sabin, work in tandem to create a strong community among the students. An annual College Bowl is at the center of the annual activities to strengthen the bond among the students working so hard to achieve a degree. There are more than 40 groups that students can join that can double as real-life medical experience at area community service facilities.

Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania

The Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania has long been one of the best schools for radiology. It holds the distinction of being the first medical school in the country as well as the first school hospital. The School of medicine continues to be a top medical school and is currently affiliated with Pennsylvania Hospital, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian medical Center.

There are six modules for medical students to take in small groups. They focus on teamwork and effective leadership among medical professionals. Simulation facilities offer students practical experience. There are more than 50 institutes and centers where students can get hands-on experience as well. Students gain much from joining one of the nearly 100 student organizations that offer experience in many areas that can help them in their studies and future career.

Duke University Medical Center

This school of medicine prides itself on creating critical thinkers who focus on hands-on experience. Students study basic science for one year compared to other medical school’s two-year requirement. They are put in positions to care for patients a year before their counterparts at other major medical institutions. A full year is spent on independent scholarship rather than a summer or semester.

The Duke University Medical Center is one of the country’s largest clinical and biomedical research institutions. It has a health system that covers 32 counties. The sprawling 210-acre campus has 88 buildings and employs more than 16,000 people with roughly 10 percent of them top faculty physicians and researchers. It has a faculty to student ratio of three to one.

College of Medicine at Mayo Clinic School of Medicine

The College of Medicine at Mayo Clinic School of Medicine offers many avenues to gain real-life experience at one of its many facilities. The teaching arm of the Mayo Clinic offers students the opportunity to complete rotations and study at the Mayo Clinic campuses in both Jacksonville, Florida and Phoenix. There are an abundance of affiliated Mayo Clinic Health System facilities where medical students can also gain hands-on experience and conduct research.

By their sophomore year, students are allowed to focus on selectives, which are shorter, streamlined classes of the student’s choice. Third-year students must write a scientific paper based on their chosen research project. The school has reported that approximately 80 percent of these papers go on to be published manuscripts.

About the Author

Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing about education, jobs, business trends and more for The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Today’s Parent and other publications. She graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from UNLV. Her full bio and clips can be seen at www.vegaswriter.com.