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Medical Physicist vs. Dosimetrist: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

A medical physicist is a professional who uses physics principles to diagnose and treat patients. A dosimetrist is a professional who works with a medical physicist to develop a treatment plan that will deliver the correct amount of radiation to the patient. Both medical physicists and dosimetrists work in the field of radiation oncology.

In this article, we compare and contrast the job duties of medical physicists and dosimetrists. We also provide information on the education and training required for each profession, as well as the job outlook and average salary.

What is a Medical Physicist?

Medical Physicists work in the field of healthcare to ensure that medical equipment is functioning properly and safely. They often work with radiation therapy equipment to make sure it’s calibrated correctly and that patients are properly protected from harmful radiation exposure. Medical Physicists also develop new medical technologies and treatments, such as cancer-detection devices or radiation-based cancer treatments. They typically have a PhD in physics or a related field, and many Medical Physicists are certified by the American Board of Radiology. Medical Physicists typically work in hospitals, clinics or private practices, but some may work for government agencies or research institutions.

What is a Dosimetrist?

Dosimetrists are medical professionals who develop and deliver radiation therapy treatment plans for cancer patients. They use sophisticated computer software to design individualized treatment plans that target cancerous cells while sparing healthy tissue. Dosimetrists work closely with radiation oncologists, medical physicists and radiation therapists to ensure that patients receive the most effective and safe treatment possible. They also educate patients and their families about the risks and benefits of radiation therapy.

Medical Physicist vs. Dosimetrist

Here are the main differences between a medical physicist and a dosimetrist.

Job Duties

Medical physicists and dosimetrists share some of their job duties. These include developing plans for patient care, performing diagnostic tests and evaluating the effectiveness of radiation therapy. However, their other job responsibilities differ.

A medical physicist’s primary job duty is to ensure that the radiation treatments patients receive are safe and effective. This involves performing calculations and running simulations to determine the best type of radiation treatment for each patient. They also oversee the operation of radiotherapy equipment and analyze data from scans to ensure that patients receive the right doses of radiation. Additionally, medical physicists perform quality assurance testing on radiotherapy equipment and monitor the performance of staff who use this equipment.

Job Requirements

Medical physicists typically need a bachelor’s degree in physics, engineering or another related field. They also must complete a medical physics residency program that lasts two to three years. Some medical physicists pursue a doctoral degree as well.

Dosimetrists usually need an associate degree from an accredited dosimetry program. These programs often last two years and include coursework on topics like radiation safety, physics and biology.

Work Environment

Medical physicists and dosimetrists typically work in different environments. Medical physicists often work in hospitals, clinics or private practices. They may also work for research institutions or pharmaceutical companies. Dosimetrists usually work in radiation therapy centers. These professionals may travel to patients’ homes or workplaces to administer treatments.


Both medical physicists and dosimetrists need to have excellent problem-solving skills. Medical physicists often are responsible for developing new treatments or improving existing ones, so they need to be able to identify problems and develop creative solutions. Dosimetrists also need to be able to solve problems, but their focus is on ensuring that patients receive the correct dose of radiation therapy.

Both medical physicists and dosimetrists need to have strong math skills. Medical physicists use math when they are performing research and developing models to simulate how different treatments will affect patients. Dosimetrists use math when they are calculating the amount of radiation a patient needs to receive.

Medical physicists typically need to have a higher level of education than dosimetrists. Most medical physicists have a doctorate in physics, while dosimetrists usually have a bachelor’s degree. Medical physicists also may need to have specialized skills, such as experience with computer programming or experience working with certain types of equipment.


Medical physicists earn an average salary of $141,657 per year, while dosimetrists earn an average salary of $111,830 per year. Both of these salaries may vary depending on the location of the job, the size of the company and the level of experience the professional has.


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