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Radiographer vs. Radiologist: What Are the Differences?

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

Radiographers and radiologists are both important members of the medical field. They use imaging technology to diagnose and treat patients. While their roles are similar, there are several key differences between these two positions. In this article, we discuss the similarities and differences between radiographers and radiologists, and we offer helpful tips for choosing the right career path.

What is a Radiographer?

Radiographers are medical professionals who specialize in using imaging technology to diagnose and treat patients. They use X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and ultrasound to create images of the inside of the human body. Radiographers work in hospitals, clinics and private practices. They may also work in research facilities or government agencies. Radiographers typically work with a team of other medical professionals, such as doctors and nurses, to provide comprehensive patient care.

What is a Radiologist?

Radiologists are medical doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating diseases and injuries using medical imaging techniques such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Radiologists work with other physicians and health care professionals to develop treatment plans for patients. They also may provide guidance to patients on how to reduce their risk of developing diseases or injuries. Radiologists typically work in hospitals, clinics or private practices.

Radiographer vs. Radiologist

Here are the main differences between a radiographer and a radiologist.

Job Duties

Radiographers perform many of the same tasks as radiologists, but they do so while an imaging procedure is taking place. This can include preparing a patient for an exam and operating machinery to capture images. Radiographers may also manage radiation exposure risks and communicate with patients about upcoming procedures.

In contrast, radiology professionals carry out several duties after an imaging procedure has taken place. These roles can include reading and interpreting medical scans and communicating results with other healthcare providers. A radiologist may also advise patients on treatment options or plan future care strategies.

Job Requirements

Radiographers typically need an associate degree from a radiography program accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). These programs usually take two years to complete and include coursework on topics like medical ethics, patient care and radiographic procedures. Some states also require radiographers to be licensed.

Radiologists must first earn a bachelor’s degree before attending medical school. They then complete a four-year residency program in radiology. After completing their training, radiologists must obtain licensure from the state they plan to practice and pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination.

Work Environment

Radiographers work in hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities. They may travel to different locations on a daily basis or only visit one location for the duration of their employment. Radiographers typically work full time during regular business hours, but they may also work overtime when necessary.

Radiologists usually work in private practices, medical imaging centers or hospitals. They may work part-time or full-time depending on their preference and employer requirements. Most radiologists work during normal business hours, but some may work overnight shifts or weekends.

Skills

Both radiographers and radiologists use critical thinking skills to analyze images and make diagnoses. They also need to be able to follow safety protocols as they work with dangerous materials.

Radiographers benefit from having strong interpersonal skills when working with patients. They need to be able to explain procedures, answer questions and provide emotional support. Radiologists typically do not interact with patients directly but may need to communicate their findings to other physicians or surgeons.

Radiographers need to have excellent manual dexterity as they position patients and equipment. They also need to be able to lift and move heavy equipment. Radiologists do not need to have the same level of physical strength and dexterity as radiographers. However, they do need to be able to sit for long periods of time and have good eye-hand coordination to perform their job effectively.

Salary

Radiographers earn an average salary of $65,890 per year, while radiologists earn an average salary of $275,060 per year. The average salary for both positions may vary depending on the type of facility in which you work, your level of experience and your location.

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